Whether it’s cookouts or cocktails, every family has a twist on an old classic. Like an heirloom (but more fun), family recipes are passed down, tweaked, perfected—and if you’re a lucky dinner guest—shared.
As UG’s resident Cuban-American, I grew up chomping on ropa vieja (shredded beef) and frijoles negros (black beans) steeped with garlic and know-how. Always full, yes. Blessed, double yes. But much to the disappointment of my grandmother, I’ve gone untouched by the kitchen fairy. So when it comes to indulging my cultural pangs, I stick with our national pastime. No, not baseball. Our other social sport: mojito mixing.
My Havana-born parents can muddle a mojito blindfolded. Me, I need prescription contacts and a blender. Here’s what you’ll need to whip up Mango Mojitos fit for a palm-shaded promenade in old town Havana:
Cuban Mango Mojitos (serves six)
1 liter seltzer water (family trick: Go for lime seltzer)
White Bacardi Rum (Bacardi stands for linen shirts and rhumba in our book)
2 ripe mangos
Sugar or Honey to taste (family trick: go for dark honey. It lends a richer flavor than raw sugar)
1 bunch of fresh mint
Ice at the ready
Two small pitchers or bowls
Step 1: Make minty crushed ice.
Grab four handfuls of ice, pick a half bushel of mint leaves and crush them in the blender. You’ll have these brilliantly aromatic chips coated with the leave’s refreshing oils, that saves you the mess of muddling. Pour into a bowl or small pitcher.
Step 2: Blend mangos, limes and honey into a zesty syrup
Chop all the juicy fruit off your ripe mangos, hand-juice six limes and pour about three to four tablespoons of dark honey into the mix.
Blend, taste and adjust the lime to honey ratio to taste. Ripe mangos are sweet and unctuous, so be sure to taste before blending so you don’t kill the mix with too much sugar. Pour into a bowl or small pitcher.
Step 3: Fill ‘er up!
Fill up glasses, parfait style with your minty ice chips first. Follow with your golden mango mix over top, stopping at half the glass. Reach for the rum and add three-second pours to each glass.
Top with fizzy seltzer, stir and enjoy (My brother, sister and I certainly did.) Cheers!