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[whitespace] An authentic Cuban bartender mixes a round of mojitos at La Bodguita del Medio in Old Havana.

Controversy and Cocktails

Forget Elián, let's free the mojito!

By Michael Stabile

THREE YEARS AGO, AT Enrico's Sidewalk Cafe, I was introduced to the mojito, a Cuban import composed of rum, rum, mint-infused simple sugar and more rum. It cost around $7 and its effect was similar to that of a Long Island Iced Tea. One's motor coordination is better than with the latter, but it was wise of me to set a limit at two mojitos in a given evening.

A year later I was in Havana drinking the same concoction. But not at La Bodguita del Medio or any of the pre-Castro chic bars where they're liable to cost as much as they do stateside. No, this time I found them in a "Cubans Only" bar where they came four for a dollar. (Viva la revolución!) Patrons threw them back like lemonade on a hot night. Soon I was buying rounds for the entire bar.

Now I'm back and the only decent mojito in town is still at Enrico's (albeit made with Puerto Rican rum) and my point in telling this long-winded tale of semi-coherent rumination is that with everyone in such a huff about one little kid, we should focus some of our energy on freeing up cheap and superior Cuban rum. Maybe we could send Elián back in exchange for an end to the rum embargo. Just a thought .

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From the March 6, 2000 issue of the Metropolitan.

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