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I am not a subtle person.  I describe myself as incisive.  Other people might use other adjectives.  I can be intense and I cook and make drinks that way.  A teaspoon of cinnamon?  Oh, no, two is better.  I can draw a very evil stare from Suzen when I’ve overdone it.

Still, she likes my drink concoctions.  She knows that first sip will be strong.  Which is why I just surprised her.  I made a mojito and I followed the classical recipe: I put in club soda. 

Jessica Strand has written a lovely drink book, Margaritas, Mojitos and More.  Her Classic Mojito recipe, given below, has that club soda that I’ve always heard goes into a real mojito.  I always left the club soda out, opting for an intense hit of just mint, rum, and sugar syrup.  What interested me about Jessica’s recipe was the relative balance of ingredients: not too much mint, nor too much rum, and just a little sugar instead of my usual heavy splash of sugar syrup.images[3]

So, I experimented and followed her recipe exactly.  Not one extra teaspoon of sugar.  The result?  Very interesting.  It tastes like a mojito, but it is subtle.  There is no overpowering “wham” in your mouth.  That distinctive mojito flavor is there, but it just resonates instead of blaring away.

The book has a bevy of mojito-like recipes.  I tried the mango, which was good, and the kiwi, which was like a smoothie with rum.  For that one, I did add some extra sugar but then again my kiwis were a tad less than ripe.  As with many fruit cocktails, you do need to adjust sugar AND tartness based on your fruit.  If you do add sugar, then some additional lemon or lime juice provides the right counterpoint and maintains the liquidity. You really don’t want a thick cocktail that you have to chew.

Try this mojito with a soft, low intensity cheese and you have beginnings for perfect party.


Classic Mojito

½ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice

1 teaspoon superfine sugar

5 mint leaves, plus 1 sprig for garnish

Crushed ice

2 ounces white rum

1 ounce club soda


Put the lime juice and sugar in a highball or other glass.  Stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Add the mint leaves and crush or muddle them against the glass with the back of a spoon or muddler.  Fill the glass with crushed ice.  Add the rum and club soda, and stir gently.  Garnish with a mint sprig.