Ruben Toledo Ruminates on the Mojito
as told to omar sommereyns
Hand-painted glasses by Ruben Toledo
“Having come from Cuba as a kid, mojitos are the stuff of myth for me, like Old Hollywood glamour. My wife, Isabel— who makes the best mojitos—says they’re like a breezy memory. It’s what elegant men such as my father-in-law, Felix, would drink during those magical, moonlit, black-and-white Havana nights. I remember them being served at our family get-togethers and seeing adults enjoying themselves and socializing, which made me want to grow up right away.
But I also recall how mojitos became all the rage in New York City during the early ’90s. Served at places like the Palladium and Indochine, they seemed traditional and familiar, yet decadent and a bit out there at the same time.
What I love most is the duality of the mint and lime: There’s a great, teasing mix between sweet and tart—and it can be as complex as your love life! So it certainly gives you something to ponder. Of course, my favorite is still the classic version, but Bacardi (one of the sponsors for the retrospective) has created a whole new take in my name, the Toledo-jito, which is quite fun. This new recipe is inventive, playful, and kicks it up a notch with the addition of a mint-flavored foam, turning it into a couture-level drink.
For the design of the Toledo-jito glasses, I was simply inspired by the good life: the movement of palm trees, the pleasure of beauty, the contemplation of nature, and my wife’s smile. Isabel and I have been collaborating for a long time, so this exhibit at the Freedom Tower, a retrospective of our collective body of work, is very emotional for us. Our process has always been a yin/yang of ideas and opposing thoughts, the clash of which makes for very fertile creative ground because it’s all based in love.
And we both love our mojitos, especially at sundown, with the glorious colors and the shifting aura of the day as it merges into night. Suddenly, in those brief minutes, no matter where we are—mojito in hand—we’re back in the tropics, in the Havana of our fantasies.” “Toledo/Toledo: Full Circle,” through February 2, MDC Museum of Art + Design at the Freedom Tower, 600 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; mdc.edu
Bacardi portfolio consultant Gabriel F. Urrutia offers a creative take on the classic mojito.
Drink ingredients 1 1⁄2 oz. Bacardi Superior Rum
3⁄4 oz. lime juice
3⁄4 oz. simple syrup
• Pour ingredients in a shaker over ice and shake vigorously until chilled. Pour into a stemless martini glass. Top with mint foam (see below). Garnish with a mint leaf over foam and 4 dashes of aromatic bitters framing the mint leaf on top of the foam.
Mint foam ingredients (recipe will vary depending on your cocktail)
4 egg whites
6 oz. mint simple syrup
1.5 oz. lime juice
2 oz. water
photography by william brinson; food styling by suzanne lenzer