On the mojito trail

19 Jun

Mojitos at More Vino.

Trinidad and Tobago recently held its first food awards in the form of the Jamaican import The Table Talk Food Awards. Over 100 restaurants, cafes and bistros were visited and their food and drink sampled.

As part of the awards, beverage sponsor AMCO, distributors of Barcadi rums, held a Barcadi Classic Mojito Challenge. Yours truly was among the judges selected to judge Mojitos in nine bars in North and Central Trinidad. Due to the short timing, we couldn’t hit up more bars unfortunately.

So of the numerous bars in Trinidad, we hit up Shakers on the Avenue, More Vino, Drink Bistro and Lounge, Hyatt Regency, Kava at Kapok Hotel, Toppers Bar, Woodford Cafe, Wild Olive Restaurant and The Rise Bar, the latter three all located in Chaguanas.


The lone female bartender on our three days of tasting mixes up her mojitos individually

The seven judges were judging the concoctions based on

  • Balance
  • Flavour Consistency
  • Freshness of Ingredients
  • Appearance & Look and Feel
  • Garnish
Judges were also told to take into consideration the preparation methods of the bartenders, as well as their ability, attitude, charisma and passion.
For those who don’t know what a mojito is, let me give you a quick run down. Said to have originated in Cuba, the cocktail contains:
  • White Rum
  • Sugar
  • Lime juice (or limes)
  • Crushed mint leaves
  • Soda water
  • Ice

Over the three days we discovered that no two mojitos are equal. While the original recipe calls for mint leaves to be muddled, some bartenders opted to just clap it to release the oils and one actually didn’t even bother to do anything with the leaves!

At one bar, margarita mix was used which gave the drink a bitterish taste and almost everyone had their own twist on the classic. In Drink! they substitute the simple syrup with Sprite. Note: Caribbean people have sweet palates so the sprite actually gives the cocktail a sweeter, tastier finish than the syrup.

At Toppers, we were served a Dragon Berry mojito, made with Dragon Berry Barcardi, at Woodford Cafe, they have a mojito called Saga Boy which is a classic topped with passion fruit juice and at The Rise, we were treated to a Sour Apple mojito made with Sour Apple Barcardi and Bols Sour Apple Liqueur.


The Toppers bartender poses with his mojitos and his bottle of Barcardi Dragon Berry.

Most of the bartenders we interacted with were knowledgeable and passionate about their creations. Rodney, of the winning bar, The Rise, was perhaps more so than the others and really impressed with his professionalism, technique and his garnish, which, instead of the typical lime, was a stalk of sugar cane.


A stalk of Sugar Cane in The Rise’s mojitos was a change from the usual lime and mint leaves garnish.

Chaguanas, where his bar is located, was once the centre of the sugar cane production in Trinidad and Tobago and the garnish was a good ode to that history as well as the history of rum which traditionally was made with sugar cane. Barcardi is made from sugar cane byproducts.


Rodney, bartender of the Barcardi Mojito Challenge bar winner The Rise


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