The novel, the second in the Hector Lassiter series, is set partly in Key West and Cuba, and features Ernest Hemingway in a supporting role, the author who really put the mojito on the map.
When I wrote Toros &Torsos several years ago, the mojito wasn't yet the trendy drink it has since become. (I had a few readers who mistakenly thought it was some gaffe that Hector and Rachel Harper and Hem were knocking them back in the 1930s.)
The rum drink comes in early in Toros:
Hector sipped his mojito, watching her. The woman sat down and Hector rose, walked behind her, and scooted in her chair. She was wearing a white dress that bared her shoulders and most of her back — more than a little sunburn there. He sat back down and gestured at his glass. Hector said, “Ever have one?”
“No,” she said. “I mean, I don’t think so. Not even sure what that is. Is that mint in there with the lime?”
“Mashed in, then some more as garnish.” Hector raised two fingers at his bartender friend. He pointed at his nearly empty glass and then at himself and the woman. “You’ll love this, trust me,” he said. “Calm your nerves. Like my Daddy said, ‘You’ve got to find what you love and let it kill you.’”
A bit later in the book, in Spain, Hector samples a mojito made to Hemingway's specifications and recoils at its bastardized taste:
He tapped glasses with a wary Hem and said, “Here’s to diminishing ourselves this evening.” He sipped the mojito and made a face. “This is no mojito.”
“It’s sweetened with honey,” Hem said. “You know I can’t abide sugar.”
Hemingway's favored version of the mojito was allegedly made to Papa's peculiar specifications in La Bodeguita del Medio in Havana, Cuba.
According to Hemingway & Bailey's Bartending Guide To Great American Writers, here's the straight-up mojito recipe:
6 fresh mint sprigs
1 oz. lime juice
3/4 oz. simple syrup
2 oz. light rum
"Crush 5 mint sprigs into the bottom of a chilled highball glass. Pour in lime juice, simple syrup, and rum. Fill glass with crushed ice, and stir gently. Garnish with lime wedge and remaining mint sprig. Sometimes a splash of club soda is added."
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