Italian cocktails have claimed all kinds of superlatives within the U.S., from the “drink of the summer season” (the Aperol Spritz, circa 2018) to the “most viral” (the Negroni Sbagliato, circa 2022) and past. Within the working for the preferred drinks in Italy, nonetheless, the Negroni might need a preventing likelihood, and an Americano is perhaps what most Italians are literally ingesting.
However attain again 20 years in the past on the peninsula and all of those drinks would’ve been a tough promote, as a result of just one cocktail was king: the Mojito.
The preponderance of Mojitos at Italian bars is tough to fathom now, each as a result of the profile appears so anathema to what Italy has placed on the map for drink-making—particularly the emphasis on bitter reasonably than candy—and since in a world the place cocktail origin tales are murky, we all know for sure that Mojitos have been born in Cuba, not Italy. But ask any Italian profession bartender for probably the most well-known, most ordered drink within the years earlier than the cocktail revolution took maintain, and there’s no competitors.
“The Mojito was well-known lengthy earlier than I even began bartending,” says Riccardo Rossi, proprietor of the Freni e Frizioni bar group in Rome. Julian Biondi, journalist and proprietor of Fermenthinks distillery, remembers his early days of bartending, in 2006, when muddled drinks have been fashionable. “The Mojito was probably the most consumed of all,” he says. Certainly, Michele Mariotti, head of bars on the Gleneagles Lodge, remembers that within the early aughts, “the Mojito was the dominant pressure on this planet of cocktails in Italy.”
How did the mix of rum, mint, sugar, lime juice and soda from throughout the Atlantic grow to be the go-to for Italians? One purpose: It’s undeniably refreshing. Camilla Bellini, proprietor of Florence wine bar Enoteca Bellini, factors out that the refreshment issue isn’t to be underestimated, particularly as a result of “there’s a robust connection between seaside tradition and cocktail tradition in Italy, and the Mojito is the proper drink for the summer season weeks spent on the seaside.” Italians typically take an extended break in the course of the scorching months of July and August, organising seaside and structuring their days round avoiding the warmth—a practice that has usually included a replenishing cocktail because the solar goes down, loved at one of many many seasonal bars that line the coast.
As for the Mojito’s capacity to make the leap from summer season drink to year-round star, there are additionally some easy causes: the abundance of mint in Italy meant it was a simple ingredient for bartenders to have available, and a well-recognized one for shoppers who hadn’t but cultivated a relationship with cocktails. Biondi doesn’t low cost the recognition of Cuban rum, both, which, like Aperol, was closely marketed all through the nation and have become the favourite base spirit within the late Nineteen Eighties into the ’90s (see: the Quattro Bianchi). Between the climate, the mint and the advertising and marketing push round rum, “the Mojito was a pure consequence,” he says. Quickly, Italian bartenders have been placing their very own spins on the Mojito, from exchanging the sweetener for native honey to swapping out rum for native spirits like mirto.
Due to the craft cocktail renaissance, the Negroni and its fellow aperitivo staples have taken over, and the Mojito has gone on an reverse path, towards obscurity. Gone are the times of the Mojito on the seaside; the spritz is right here to remain. As Davide Campagnolo, proprietor and bartender on the Florence cocktail bar Manifattura, says, “I can’t even bear in mind the final time I considered a Mojito.”