Almost every time I entertain friends and family visiting Miami, I will inevitably get asked at some point during their stay, “where can I get a good mojito?”
The iconic Cuban cocktail is made with rum, sugar, lime, soda water, and tons of muddled mint. It initially rose to popularity thanks to Ernest Hemingway, who made it his drink of choice during the early 20th century during his stays in Florida and Cuba. Many don’t know that the drink was actually first created as a concoction meant to cover the flavor of “crude spirits,” as more refined, better-tasting spirits weren’t readily available. As times and tastes evolved and the Cuban community expanded here in South Florida, the cocktail became a “signature” Miami drink found on menus citywide and is still the most popular cocktail served in Cuba today.
But the issue with mojitos is with their execution, which, more often than not, is poor, resulting in a cocktail that is overly sweet and loaded with barely muddled mint, making it nearly impossible to drink. And I’m not the only person annoyed by this cocktail that is so tied to the 305. I’m about to let you in on a little secret: Bartenders absolutely loathe making mojitos as it is a labor and time-intensive process.
So what to sip on in its place? Opt for another classic Cuban cocktail: the daiquiri made with good Cuban rum, sugar, and lime juice that’s shaken — not frozen — and strained into a chilled coupe glass.
The great thing about the daiquiri is its simplicity (bonus: it’s hard to mess up) and its adaptability. It’s refreshing when made in its traditional form with three ingredients, or it can be morphed into a clever drink variation by adding one or two more items.
For those that are seeking the bright mint flavor sans the annoying mint-stuck-in-your-teeth feeling Mojitos often bring? Then order an Old Cuban, which muddles together the familiar Mojito flavors of rum, mint, and lime, then adds in two dashes of Angostura bitters before shaking the cocktail and then — and this is key — strains the drink, removing those pesky mint leaves but keeping the flavor. The cocktail is then topped with two ounces of champagne to complete the drink. Old Cubans can be found all around town, including stand-out versions at Cafe La Trova and Phuc Yea.
Or give a nod to ‘Papa’ with the Hemingway Daiquiri, which adds grapefruit juice and maraschino liqueur to the classic rum drink. Channel your inner legendary writer and sip one at Swizzle or La Canita.
Either way, next time you’re tempted to order a mojito give a daiquiri a shot instead. If anything, your bartender will thank you for it.