The Old Cuban

Old Cuban

Audrey Saunders’ classy take on the Mojito

By Simon McGoram

Photography by Rob Palmer


While this beverage hasn’t appeared (yet) in many cocktail volumes of note this is a potion that has achieved substantial online press perhaps being Audrey Saunders’ (of Pegu Club, NYC fame) most famous creation. Dale De Groff has talked about it on his website, ‘Drinkboy’ (Robert Hess) digs it, cocktail blogger Paul Clarke has given it whirl and yes even our own Naren Young  has given it his seal of approval.

So why has this concoction, set to be hung in the hall of cocktail fame and canonized as a ‘classic’ taken so long to make it to these pages?

Well the Old Cuban looks like just a jazzed up Mojito, which it is, but it is also so much more than that! Looking at the ingredients you immediately know the beverage is going to work and that is often where we’d stop; where’s the challenge in it?

Like any great beverage, however, the Old Cuban is much more than the sum of its parts – removing the Mojito from the highball and serving it straight up completely changes the texture. The addition of bitters is a welcome addition being a simpatico partner with both rum and champagne. Aged rum is a must with the more robust flavours standing up to the addition of bubbles. In short, the whole ensemble is a classy affair elevating the rustic beachside Mojito to an elegant cocktail lounge sipper.

“The advantage of the Old Cuban is that it can easily be ‘pimped’ without fear of patriotic reprisal from said communist state.”

Cubans generally steer away from using anything but the lightest rums in their Mojitos and strictly stick to processed white sugar too. The advantage of the Old Cuban is that it can easily be ‘pimped’ without fear of patriotic reprisal from said communist state.

This month we’ve been lucky enough to get our hands on vintage champagne to charge our Old Cuban and if you’ve got some Havana Club Cuban Barrel Proof that also wouldn’t go amiss. Realistically though a quality methode traditionelle or dry sparkling will do the job along with a well aged rum Cuban or Puerto Rican style rum.

Give it a whirl. This one is a keeper.

Old Cuban

45ml Havana Club Añejo 7 Años

30ml simple syrup

30ml fresh lime juice

2 Mint sprigs (one for garnish)

Angostura bitters 2 dashes

Mumm Cordon Rouge Vintage 1999 Champagne to top

Add your lime juice and sugar to your shaker then stir to dissolve. Press one sprig of mint in the bottom of  the shaker, add your rum, bitters and ice then shake vigorously. Double strain into a chilled coupette, top with champagne and garnish with a mint leaf.

1 Comment
  1. what a bloody great drink by a true legend Miss Audrey Saunders! My favourite this summer for sure! I hope we see it on a few lists around town ASAP!

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