Thursday, 3 March 2011

The Mint Revolution: The Mojito & The Mint Julep

"Minty" drinks seem to have a knack of finding there way on to almost every cocktail menu. Rightly so too, they have proved to have such popularity and have lasted the test of time. It all started with the mint julep, back in 1803. Although no one is 100% sure, the mint julep was seen for the first time in print in a London publication written by John Davies.  Back then, the spirit used was not specified, but it had to have mint soaked through the drink.  Later in the 18th century, in the southern United States,  a US Senator introduced this drink to the people of Kentucky and in particular the bartenders at the "Willard Hotel".  From then on the tradition of Kentucky bourbon mixed with limes and sugar has long been know as the famous classic, the mint Julep.

Like most of these famous classic cocktails, there origins are never certain. The mojito is one drink that has many different stories. We know that is was invented in Cuba, but no one can be sure when. Some say that it was invented by the African slaves that worked in the sugar cane fields back in the 19th century. Mixing rum, sugar, mint and lime was a popular and refreshing drink amongst the slaves.  One story that i find quite amusing, is that the mojito was actually invented by American bartenders. The story goes, in the 1930's when prohibition hit the US, the bartenders at the time were all out of a job, so a lot of them travelled to Cuba to work. With the mint julep being so popular in the US, the bartenders simply replaced the bourbon with the Cuban spirit, rum.  I could go on with many other stories on how the mint julep and the mojito came about, but at the end of the day, there is no definitive answer.

I'm sure by now you have a pretty good idea of what is in these drinks. Start with long glass, add lime wedges (about 3 - 4) and sugar. I find brown sugar works quite well and gives the drink a nice caramel flavour, but white sugar will still work just fine. Muddle and crush these together extracting as much juice from the lime as you can.  Next, tear off and generous handful of mint leaves. Slap them in your hands, the idea being the heat and the friction in your hands will help release the flavours and aromas of the mint. Add this to your limes and sugar. Many bartenders believe that you should muddle the mint, i don't believe this is the best way of extracting flavour. If you put a mint leaf in your mouth and chew down on in vigorously, you'll understand why you shouldn't muddle the mint. The mint becomes sour and extremely bitter when muddled.  Now for your spirit, add 60ml of bourbon for the "julep" or rum for the "mojito". Fill your glass with ice and stir. Stir as long as you need to dilute the ice with the spirit. You can top up with soda if you'd like, but this is optional.

There you have it, 2 of probably the most famous mint drinks of all time. Enjoy!!

In a Glass add:
3 - 4 Lime Wedges
1 teaspoon of sugar
Muddle Together
A Handful of mint
60ml Spirit ( Bourbon = Mint Julep) (Rum = Mojito)
Add ice and stir
Top up with soda water (optional)

1 comment:

  1. really enjoying the blog Dave...some terrific background information and great recipes! Your enthusiasm for a good cocktail certainly comes through!