Personal reflections on urbanism, urban life and sustainable urban design in Wellington, New Zealand.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Mojito roundup

File under: , ,

Mojito at Plate, Holidy Inn, WellingtonNow that January is at an end, it's time to sum up the results of my mojito-sipping month. The weather was relatively kind to my quest, and if it wasn't quite as sunny as we would have hoped for, the humidity often demanded something long, cold and refreshing. Most of the bartenders were either too polite to turn up their noses at my request, or didn't realise that it's a deeply unfashionable drink.

While it has a very simple recipe, it's by no means a "safe" cocktail to order, as it depends very much on the freshness and quality of the ingredients, the skill of the maker, and a subtle balance of flavours. I haven't attempted the sort of numerical rating that I gave to Martinis, but instead I'll just share some of the highlights and lowlights of the month.

There were no really stunning examples, and that might have something to do with the subordinate role played by the rum. Most of the time they tasted like minty lime and sodas, perhaps with a subtle alcoholic kick, and on a hot day there's nothing wrong with that. Nevertheless, a few places stood out, and Plate (yes, that was the mystery bar), Imbibe, Sandwiches and the Tasting Room all delivered the goods. The key seems to be the quality and treatment of the mint, ensuring that it's not too shredded or bruised, and that it doesn't overpower the lime. There was a variety of sweetening methods uses, from raw crushed sugar through standard table sugar to sugar syrups, and while the raw sugar may have added a subtle richness of flavour, overall I was suprised to find that the type of sweetening didn't make as much of a difference as the amount.

Mojito with Elephant! Harem, Manners MallHarem and Vintage both departed from tradition by serving them in a short glass, which seems to miss the point of a mojito. Vintage's one still tasted delicious, but Harem's version had very little ice, just a token mint leaf and a single slice of lime. On the other hand, it came garnished with an orange plastic elephant perched on the side of the glass, and that's got to count for something! Restaurant 88 made it way too sweet, using what seems to have been lime cordial rather than fresh limes, and while Havana used real lime juice, the fact that it was squeezed out of a bottle detracted from the experience somewhat. I guess they've had to streamline their technique to deal with high volumes.

The Southern Cross and Matterhorn both made delicious mojitos, neither too sweet nor too sour, but were let down by filling the glass with shredded mint: it was like drinking pesto! The Lanes and Concrete both suffered from poor quality mint, and after a while there was a distinct, unpleasant vegetal aroma.

Overall, there were some delicious experiences, but I can understand why it's going out of favour. There are a lot of other, better summer drinks out there, so stay tuned for February's drink of the month.


At 5:43 pm, January 31, 2007, Blogger Edward Sargisson said...

Alright, explain something to me, what's so bad about Mojito's? They're a lovely summery drink which aren't all sweet and girly while being not so heavily alcoholic as to be unpalatable.

What else are we supposed to drink, my friend?

At 10:43 pm, January 31, 2007, Blogger Baz said...

Me, I like 'em. They're my favourite kind of soft tortilla with a spicy filling.

At 8:54 am, February 01, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

Jo: touché. You know who else used to correct people's punctuation?

Sarge: there's nothing wrong with the mojito per se, it's just got a bit overexposed and it's time for a bit more variety. In summer, one could also drink a Moscow mule, a Pimms No 1 Cup, a mint julep, a Tom Collins or just a good old fashioned G&T.

One reason why bartenders are so sick of the mojito is that they go to great lengths to come up with their own concoctions, only to have people order the same-old same-old again. Instead, try Matterhorn's Falling Water or Jerry Collins, Boulot's Rude Boy, Vintage's Red Lotus, or any number of variationas around town. Plus, there's always this month's drink-of-the-month...

At 10:20 am, February 01, 2007, Blogger s. said...


At 10:20 am, February 01, 2007, Blogger s. said...


At 3:26 pm, February 01, 2007, Blogger Edward Sargisson said...

Mrph, Jo...
For the record I do know how to use apostrophes and am normal completely anal about their use.

I was just too busy thinking about alcohol...

I also like to use ellipses. They add a useful amount of humourous indeterminancy to my writing...

I've been busily working up a personal favourite mojito recipe in preparation for a BBQ I'm planning.
Of course, this involved a lot of trial runs.

I might try a mint julep for variety. According to most references I read the mojito was actually a version of the mint julep which the Cuban bartenders developed for their American clients.


Post a Comment

<< Home