In the shaker: Getting creative with cocktails


Murray Slater spruces up the Mojito and shakes a penguin

The Mojito is the world’s most popular cocktail and it has become synonymous with refreshment and a riotous good time. Its debated origins, from famous English navy men all the way to African cane-cutting slaves, all add to the mystery of this simple yet very effective drink. There is plenty of scope for experimentation beyond the classic modifying agents of mint, lime and sugar – you can even substitute the base spirit of rum, which might raise a few eyebrows, but I assure you it will ultimately bring some smiles. Mojito manipulation is also a great way of allowing guests to customise their drink – something which always goes down well.

Pimped Mojito

Glass: Collins
Garnish: Mint sprig
Method: Half fill a glass with crushed ice, slap and rip mint, add to glass, add more ice, churn, add ingredients, and churn. Cap with more ice.

  • 50ml Diplomatico Añejo rum
  • 20ml lime juice
  • 15ml Trois Rivières Sirop de Canne
  • 10 mint leaves

Origin: James Parfit

Coconut, Basil & Lemongrass Mojito

Glass: Collins
Garnish:  Basil leaf and lemongrass
Method: Add all ingredients to the glass, churn and cap.

  • 25ml Koko Kanu coconut rum
  • 25ml Havana Especial
  • 20ml lime juice
  • 15ml coconut cream
  • 10ml brown sugar
  • 5 basil leaves
  • lemongrass

Origin: Michael Paine

Strawberry & Mandarin Mojito

Glass: Collins
Garnish:  Strawberry and mint sprig
Method: Muddle strawberries and mandarin, then add mint, sugar, rum, Mandarine Napoléon and crushed ice. Churn together with barspoon and cap with more crushed ice.

  • 2 strawberries
  • ¼ mandarin
  • 10 mint leaves
  • 20ml lime juice
  • 40ml Sailor Jerry spiced rum
  • 10ml Mandarine Napoléon liqueur
  • 10ml sugar syrup

Origin: Michael Paine

Mango & Chilli Mojito

Glass: Collins
Garnish:  Small chilli and mint sprig
Method: Add all ingredients to the glass, churn and cap.

  • 50ml El Dorado 3YO rum
  • 20ml lime juice
  • 10 mint leaves
  • 15ml white sugar
  • 15ml mango purée
  • Barspoon of dried chilli flakes

Origin: Own creation

Pineapple & Sage Mojito

Glass: Collins
Garnish:  Small chilli and mint sprig
Method: Add all ingredients to the glass, churn and cap.

  • 50ml Havana Club Añejo Blanco rum
  • 20ml lime juice
  • 5ml white sugar syrup
  • 15ml pineapple purée
  • 6-8 young sage leaves

Origin: Nick Strangeway

Gin & Pomegranate Mojito

Glass: Collins
Garnish:  Small chilli and mint sprig
Method: Muddle pomegranate in the glass, add all ingredients, then churn and cap.

  • 50ml Whitley Neill Gin
  • 20ml lime juice
  • 15ml juniper sugar
  • 10 mint leaves
  • 3 barspoons of fresh pomegranate

Origin: Captain Wozza

  • Slap the mint between your hands rather than muddle it – this helps to release the fresh mint scent.
  • Make your own sugar syrup. Use white sugar syrup with white rums and demerara syrup with the gold or spiced rums.
  • The old school recipe calls for a topping of soda. However this can water down the drink and detract from the flavours. Rather cap with crushed ice to avoid dilution.
  • Use freshly squeezed lime juice rather than muddling, as the lime skins tend to give off a bitter taste – just watch out for Mojito shoulder (similar to tennis elbow).


Classic Cocktails by Salvatore Calabrese

This book explores the cocktail as an essential part of social history, while detailing the golden eras of its evolution. Calabrese, Don of mixed drinks and guardian of the classic, has produced a book that should be mandatory reading for all self-respecting bartenders.

For Calabrese, the bartender is a performer and the bar is a theatre where customers play a starring role – imagine speakeasies, where hedonistic gangsters, film stars and flappers danced to the tune of the Martini and the Manhattan. ‘A potent mix of sex, sin and spirits.’

A large section of this almost pocket-sized bartender's bible is dedicated to the king of mixed drinks, the Martini. For Calabrese, the Martini is magic, pure alchemy and deserves nothing less than complete adulation. Although even Calabrese cannot solve the mystery surrounding its origins.

The remainder of the book is packed with cocktail essentials, including 100 recipes for timeless greats such as the aphrodisiac Sazerac, White Lady and the Blue Blazer listed together in a chapter called ‘The Rest’. It's a wonderfully constructed manual on all that is good in mixology. And the pictures of yesteryear’s advertisements and cocktail-inspired illustrations are worth the price alone.

Available from from £6.49


Norpro ‘Pete the Penguin’ Cocktail Shaker

The penguin-shaped novelty cocktail shaker is a collector’s item. The original, which boasts a nifty beak that lifts up to reveal the pouring spout, was designed in 1936 and is one of the rarest shakers today. You would have to fork out a small fortune – roughly the same amount as a decent car – for the real thing. So while you’re saving up for the ultimate prize, tide yourself over with one of these more wallet-friendly replica Norpro ‘Pete the Penguin’ Cocktail Shakers, which can often be found on Ebay going for under £30.

Editorial feature from Imbibe Magazine – July / August 2009

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