Who doesn't know the mojito? This refreshing cocktail is actually quite simple, but never goes out of fashion and is loved by a large and mixed audience. But how did the mojito get its name and which secret tricks give an even better result? Time to take a closer look at the mojito.
History: from farmer's drink to cocktail in secret bar
You say mojito, you say Cuba. The mojito was used as a medicine in 1650. The rum used to be called "burning water made of sugar cane" and that worked antibacterial. The lime protected against scurvy because of the high content of vitamin C. At the time, the rum was not of such quality because that was not the focus. Mint and sugar were added to mask that taste. And that's how the base of the mojito was created.
Did you know that the mojito wasn't as premium in the past as it is now? It was a "farmer's drink" that was drunk by the poor! In the nineteenth century there were many American slaves in Cuba, for whom this drink was intended at the time. Ice cream wasn't available at the time.
Several theories about the pedigree of the name "mojito" are circulating. One theory is that the word comes from "mojo", which is a Cuban lime based seasoning. Others say that it is based on "moja dito", which means "a little wet". But the mojito first appeared in a secret Cuban bar under a different name, the bar of Juan A. Laza. Then the cocktail was called "libero de cocktail". And 10 years later under another name, "sloppy joes mojito".
The classic recipe & variations
And then we arrive at the cocktail as we know it now. But there are many different varieties of mojito and there are several ways to make the cocktail. It depends on what matters most to you. If you want a simple and clean version, you can shake the ingredients (except the mint). If you have a prominent bar, you can build the mojito in the glass.
With the basic mojito you start by muddling 6 lime slices in a glass with 20ml sugar syrup, 5ml lime juice and a little bit of sugar. Crush 10 mint leaves to release the aromas of the mint. There is no need to hit hard; research shows that this is superfluous and the leaves look better when they are even bigger. Add crushed ice to half the glass, with 40ml of white rum. This rum has a classic taste, unlike the dark rum that we will add later. By stirring well now, you let the flavours mix with each other. Then add crushed ice just below the edge of the glass and top with soda water and very dark rum. Use real soda water and no sparkling water, because this has a different minerality. The dark rum makes the cocktail a little sweeter and brings the flavours in balance. We recommend the Gosling Black Seal. Make the "finishing touch" with a lime slice, mint leaf or top and a straw (e.g. spaghetti, bamboo, iron or biodegradable paper).
Some nice variations on the mojto:
- Mexico: with 100% agave tequila instead of rum. The tequila goes well with the lime. Works much better than gin, because tequila has a fuller taste. It's a long drink, so that makes it a herbal-like cocktail
- PeruGrapefruit or passion fruit instead of lime. Makes it slightly sweeter and more bitter instead of acidic, but is still acidic enough and well balanced.
- The Cocktail Agency twist: For Momo in Amsterdam we made a flavoured mojito with spicy mango syrup instead of sugar syrup, ginger beer instead of soda water and brown rum instead of white rum. This makes the cocktail a little fresher and gives a special twist to the classic.
- Alcohol-free: ginger beer instead of rum or just soda water or with London Essence ginger bear. So you still have one strong taste and serve a refreshing cocktail.
- Other ice cream: simpler and tighter variant where you do not use crushed ice but 1 large block of ice, a bar block. You serve the cocktail in a long drink and use fresh lime juice and no wedges.
Tips for Mojito
Finally, we have some tips for you to make the most delicious mojito.
- Always use fresh lime juice. After 12 hours the fresh lime juice is removed and you can taste it. It'll be a lot less tasty and that's a waste of your cocktail.
- If you use lime wedges, stamp the muddle with cane sugar syrup and half a teaspoon of cane sugar in a long drink glass. You make the cane sugar syrup by adding 2 parts cane sugar to 1 part mineral water.
- Do you pick all the leaves of the mint beforehand? Then store them without water in a tupperware. Don't put a lid on it, because then the leaves will immediately get cool air if you keep them in the fridge.
- Don't you pick the mint leaves in advance? Then wrap them in a damp piece of kitchen paper and store them in the refrigerator in a tupperware with a lid. That's when they stay fresher.
- You can also keep a van of mint outside the refrigerator. Then put them in a glass like a bunch of flowers. It is important that they are not completely submerged. This is often done, but with it you lose taste. Then put a biodegradable bag over it.
A timeless cocktail with a rich history and that never goes out of fashion. That's the Manhattan. This cocktail has only a few ingredients and many variants. Today we put the Manhattan cocktail in the limelight.
History Manhattan cocktail
The Manhattan has been popular for centuries, as it was invented in 1874 by a bartender of the Manhattan club. The Manhattan made its appearance when Jenny Churchill threw a party for Samuel James Tilden in honor of his election as Governor of New York. An iconic moment, celebrated with an equally iconic drink.
The cocktail immediately became very popular, especially as New York was really a rye whiskey city. The early Manhattan recipes always used this alcohol as their main ingredient. That changed with the draining, where alcohol was banned. The only alcohol that was drunk at the time came from Canada, as that was the only whiskey that could be smuggled in.
It wasn't until 1950 that the Manhattan cocktail became popular again, because it could then be made in the original way. Slowly the cocktail reappeared on the market. To this day, the Manhattan is a worldwide favourite and is always one of the top 10 most popular cocktails in America.
Manhattan cocktail recipe
The Manhattan has many variants, but the original Manhattan cocktail recipe consists of 60ml rye whiskey, 25ml Italian sweet vermouth (such as Martini Rosso or Carpano Antica Formula), 2-3 dashes Angostura bitter and a garnish of Maraschino cherry. The strong whisky flavor makes it a real cocktail for whisky lovers, but the sweet red Vermouth makes it a lot rounder again. The Angostura bitter gives it an extra layer of depth in taste and the Maraschino cherry gives the cocktail a sweet final touch. Stir this cocktail in a mixing glass with ice and sieve it in a chilled Martini glass or coupe.
There are many variations on the Manhattan cocktail including:
- Manhattan east: with bourbon, Domain de Canton, ginger, saké and orange bitter
- Perfect Manhattan: whiskey with equal parts of red vermouth + dry vermouth.
- Variant also with only dry Vermouth
- Garnish with orange peel or Maraschino cherry. Can also be used for both garnishes at the same time
O.H. Byron's Modern Bartender's Guide is a classic 1884 cocktail book. This book contains two variants of the Manhattan cocktail:
- #1: french vermouth + whiskey + angostura bitters + gum syrup
- #2: curacao + angostura bitter + whiskey + italian vermouth
Tips for making
- Measure the recipe precisely with a measuring cup. So you always have the right proportions and always the same drink, over and over again. Just like a lot of French dishes, which work on exactly the right measured ingredients.
- Stir well so you can keep the flavors. This cocktail consists mainly of alcoholic beverages. Shaking makes it very different, this is what you do when there is a cloudy ingredient in your cocktail such as juice or puree. It's a robust drink. With stirren you can guarantee the original flavours. Use your watch to start counting how many seconds your stirt, 20-25 seconds. Or better use even: a temperature gauge like some bars do like TwentySeven bar, because measuring is knowing!
- Use the best quality products. There are only a few ingredients, so they have to be of good quality. Whiskey is the most important with the biggest proportion, you have to use a good one. Examples of good whiskeys for a Manhattan are Buffalo Traces or Woodfort Reserve.
- Use fresh ice blocks. You can really taste "old" ice blocks in the cocktail, because it tastes like the freezer itself with all the other food products that have been in it. The dilution during mixing also plays an important role. It opens up flavours. Take whiskey - if you add a few drops of water to it, it will open up many flavours you wouldn't normally taste.
- Use an ice-cold glass to keep the cocktail nice and cold for as long as possible. So you could put your glasses in a freezer, which would freeze your glasses nicely. Moreover, this also looks very nice when you have guests at the bar. Gram's cooling systems are recommended for this purpose.
When is the Manhattan suitable?
Due to the large proportions of alcohol, the Manhattan is particularly suitable as an aperitif. Whiskey as well as red Vermouth and Angostura are real aperitifs. It's a strong cocktail that improves your appetite.
Unique cocktail flavors combinations
Cocktails are all about taste. Which can be influenced by a dish, temperature or of course a particular ingredient. Some ingredients fit well together, others don't. It's a matter of trying and continuing to experiment. And once in a while you come across a special combination of flavours. We'll list four of them here.
#1: Liquorice + passion fruit (or other yellow fruits)
Liquorice is sweet, while passion fruit is both sweet and sour. These two go very well together. Think of other yellow fruits such as oranges or mango. Other variations on this: mango and chili - delicious for a cocktail without alcohol. Or liquorice with a pinch of salt!
#2: Cardamom + passion fruit + white chocolate + ginger
This was a great success during the Jenever Festival in Amsterdam. In combination with the gin of Baker's Best we developed a prebatch cocktail for their stand at this festival. The gin is made of old bread, which turned out to be a perfect base for the gin. Chris the baker and Nico the chemist made a beautiful product together. The four distinct and strong flavours in the brebatch cocktail are all intertwined like a puzzle.
#3: Alcohol + lavender
Cocktails with lavender may sound strange, but can be very interesting. This proves Super Lyan, a new cocktail bar in Amsterdam. The "Panacea" is a cool lavender cocktail made from Johnnie Walker Black (smoky), a blended Scotch (with 40 types of whiskey, including Cardhu, Coal Ila & Talisker whiskey) and a homemade honey-lavendelshrub, lemon and sage. This is a delicious thirst-quenching cocktail with light tones of peat, mandarin and raisins. The lavender gives it just that refreshing twist and lets the other ingredients come into their own.
#4: Octopus + kiwi
Last but not least, a combination you would never think of yourself: octopus and kiwi. Kiwi tenderizes the octopus. The former Little Buddha Amsterdam dared to take the plunge and bring this cocktail outside. Very special and definitely worth a try!