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Bon Journal

El Mojito

What do you do with a handful of fresh mint leaves, brown sugar, half a lime, ice, club soda, and vodka or rum?

First you crush the mint leaves, lime, and brown sugar in a low-glass with a special screw-like wooden mortar. Then you put ice cubes, alcohol, and club soda.

This was the Cuban drink served at a West Hampstead joint birthday party last night. It blew me away.

I love fresh mint. I know only to pour hot water over fresh mint to make mint tea or to stir fry it with fresh steak mince and garlic and chilli. But El Mojito (pronounced, moh-hee-toh) is refreshing and addictive.

The journey to El Mojito was a long one: I walked 45 minutes in the dark to find the house, a bus ride to get there, cycling to the bus stop, train ride, and cycling to the train station.

I got disoriented because it was a trip back in time. I used to live in West Hampstead, before it became so trendy. I was looking at the new shops on West End Lane, the yuppies arriving at West Hampstead station, and the large mansion blocks that have always been there. Even charity shops seemed like designer stores now. Here was a part of London that never gave such promise back in the recession years of the early 90's.

The party lasted till early hours in the morning. After El Mojito, I drank water to accompany my dancing to world music.

This morning I can feel the effects of El Mojito, lingering memories of West Hampstead.

15 September 2002 Sunday

a recipe for the Cuban drink
BBC guide to West Hampstead
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