Toronto’s most authentic mojitos
Torontonians are willing to slap the label “mojito” on just about any rum-based beverage containing mint. Cubans tell a different story, though. Making an authentic mojito requires properly muddling the lime juice, sugar and mint leaves to blend the flavours before adding aged rum, ice and soda water. That’s how they do it at La Bodeguita del Medio, where Ernest Hemingway frequently drowned his sorrows. Using their recipe as our guide, we set out to learn how some of Toronto’s tastiest mojitos measure up in terms of authenticity.
1. The Mambo Lounge
At our choice for the bar with the most authentic mojito, proprietor Andres Gonzalez hasn’t strayed much from La Bodeguita’s original recipe. Correct measurements of ingredients added in the proper order and just the right amount of muddling help the aged Havana Club blend with the mint. The only deviation is a splash of Perrier. Don’t be surprised to see pitcher José Contreras reminiscing about Havana on the patio out back. $8. 120 Danforth Ave., 416-778-7004, mambolounge.ca.
2. Julie’s Cuban
Self-professed “mojito queen” Sylvia and her husband, Jesus, have been slinging straightforward mojito Cubanos since long before the Ossington crowd discovered their quaint cantina. Locavores will appreciate the freshness of the mint, which is grown behind the restaurant. And if mean girl Rachel McAdams is nice enough to wait in line for a table here, these mojitos must be good. $8.50. 202 Dovercourt Rd., 416-532-7397, juliescuban.com.
It may look swampy, but Brassaii’s mojito tastes as pure as the Caribbean. The bar uses plenty of soda water to subdue the simple sugar. Barkeep Adam Graham ensures his staff practise proper muddling. The result is consistently tart and savoury, making this patio-ready mojito a refreshing choice for the King West crowd. $9. 461 King St. W., 416-598-4730, brassaii.com.
Bartender Bill Sweet has been perfecting his Badass mojito for years now, adding fresh raspberries and apple schnapps along the way. But we’re not complaining about the creative modifications. What it lacks in authenticity it makes up for in effect. With two ounces of over-proof Bacardi 151 (75.5 per cent alcohol), one Badass leaves you feeling more like you’ve had three. $12. 577 College St., 416-536-7000, sidecarrestaurant.ca.
5. Souz Dal
A teaspoon of sugar and a heaping of mint compete for attention, not unlike the cocktail crowd at this Little Italy hot spot. The bar aims for authenticity, but the mint is muddled with such enthusiasm that small pieces clog the straw. Souz Dal’s version ends up more candy than Cuban, but $5 Mojito Mondays can make for difficult Tuesday mornings nonetheless. $9. 636 College St., 416-537-1883, souzdal.com.
6. Fire on the East Side
Offering mojitos in such flavours as green apple and coconut might be considered bad form by Cubans, but using Captain Morgan’s could be enough to get the bartender arrested. But with a $6 price tag on Wednesday nights, can’t we just pretend it’s Miami Beach? $10. 6 Gloucester St., 416-960-3473, fireontheeastside.ca.