Bearing all the hallmarks of refreshment—mint, fresh lime, soda water and, well, rum—the Mojito is an obvious shoo-in for the canon of summer classics. And yet, many Mojitos gracing menus today bear only a passing resemblance to the Cuban-born original. The modern Mojito, it seems, is rarely just a Mojito.
Take, for instance, the Spice Adams. According to its author, Devin Kennedy, the drink sits somewhere between a Corn ’n’ Oil and a Mojito, made with two types of rum (agricole and pineapple), lime juice and falernum for pronounced notes of clove and Caribbean allspice. Demi Natoli likewise looks to the Caribbean for inspiration in her Sitting Pretty, which the Nashville-based bartender describes as a Mojito meets a Paloma by way of a Saoco, a Cuban cocktail made with rum, lime, sugar and coconut water, a combination that she tops with sparkling grapefruit soda. Nudging the drink even further toward brisk refreshment, the Frozen Italian Mojito detours the Cuban classic through Italy with a base of bittersweet Cocchi Americano and, naturally, plenty of lime and mint.
The notion of the Mojito mashup, however, is hardly new. In the early days of the cocktail revival, Audrey Saunders of Pegu Club debuted the Gin Gin Mule, a crossover Mojito and Mule (albeit made with gin) as well as her Old Cuban, a dark rum Mojito topped with Champagne. Both drinks have gone on to become reigning modern classics, inspiring countless Mojito riffs, including Orlando Franklin McCray’s Old Haitian, which replaces rum with clairin, a Haitian sugar cane spirit, and is served over crushed ice.
Elsewhere in New York, the Mojito has merged with another modern classic—the Cosmopolitan. In Dante’s aptly named Cosmojito, citrus-flavored vodka, Cointreau and cranberry meet lime, mint and sparkling water for a hybrid cocktail that’s just as appealing as its standalone components.