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A mojito with grassy flavor

Havana Club’s aged rum part of the secret

 “Typically a mojito is made with an unaged rum, which is going to be a little harsh"
“Typically a mojito is made with an unaged rum, which is going to be a little harsh"

The Gaslamp’s newest Cuban eatery, Havana 1920, seeks to capture the heyday of America’s Playground and its pre-communist jazz-and-limelight nightlife. The restaurant’s beverage director Ryan Andrews says that its owners were inspired to open the restaurant after taking a trip to Havana a few years ago, after the travel embargo against Cuba was temporarily lifted under the Obama administration.

Place

Havana 1920

548 Fifth Avenue, San Diego

“We had no idea at the time,” Andrews says, “that we would come back to open up a Cuban rum bar.”

Ryan Andrews: “We had no idea at the time.”

While Cuban cuisine is its forte, Havana 1920 offers 150 kinds of rum, Andrews says — including Havana Club Anejo Blanco, the mojo in Havana 1920’s mojito.

In reimagining the famous Cuban highball, Andrews says, the Havana 1920 recipe returns to the mojito’s sugar-cane roots with a one-of-a-kind (for San Diego, anyway) electric sugar-cane juicer.

“It’s a metal box about half the size of a college refrigerator with a hole in top to feed the cane through,” he explains. “It has three rotating crushers, like big rolling pins with teeth, which suck the cane right in, crush it flat, and extract every bit of fluid.”

Sugar cane juicer. “It has three rotating crushers, like big rolling pins with teeth."

Why so much trouble to make sugar water? For a mojito, Andrews says with pride, like no other on the West Coast.

“What’s unique about our mojito,” he says, “is that cane juice has a naturally grassy flavor with nice herbal notes that back up the aged rum.”

The rum, too, has a story, Andrews says, noting that Havana Club’s Puerto Rico distillery uses a secret family recipe, smuggled cloak-and-machete-like, out of Cuba as Castro came to power.

The aging process used to produce Havana Club, Andrews says, besides adding notes of caramel, vanilla and oak, mellows the mojito’s sweetness. “Typically a mojito is made with an unaged rum, which is going to be a little harsh, a little acrid, not as refined,” he says. “But Havana Club’s aged rum distinguishes the cocktail. It’s something you’d get at, well, a hotel casino in old Havana.”

Classic Mojito

  • 2 oz. Havana Club Anejo Blanco
  • 1 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 1 oz. cane juice
  • ¾ oz. Demerara syrup
  • 2 oz. soda
  • 8–10 mint leaves

In highball glass, bruise mint with syrup, cane, and lime. Add rum and soda, fill with crushed ice, stir. Top with ice and lime-wheel garnish.

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 “Typically a mojito is made with an unaged rum, which is going to be a little harsh"
“Typically a mojito is made with an unaged rum, which is going to be a little harsh"

The Gaslamp’s newest Cuban eatery, Havana 1920, seeks to capture the heyday of America’s Playground and its pre-communist jazz-and-limelight nightlife. The restaurant’s beverage director Ryan Andrews says that its owners were inspired to open the restaurant after taking a trip to Havana a few years ago, after the travel embargo against Cuba was temporarily lifted under the Obama administration.

Place

Havana 1920

548 Fifth Avenue, San Diego

“We had no idea at the time,” Andrews says, “that we would come back to open up a Cuban rum bar.”

Ryan Andrews: “We had no idea at the time.”

While Cuban cuisine is its forte, Havana 1920 offers 150 kinds of rum, Andrews says — including Havana Club Anejo Blanco, the mojo in Havana 1920’s mojito.

In reimagining the famous Cuban highball, Andrews says, the Havana 1920 recipe returns to the mojito’s sugar-cane roots with a one-of-a-kind (for San Diego, anyway) electric sugar-cane juicer.

“It’s a metal box about half the size of a college refrigerator with a hole in top to feed the cane through,” he explains. “It has three rotating crushers, like big rolling pins with teeth, which suck the cane right in, crush it flat, and extract every bit of fluid.”

Sugar cane juicer. “It has three rotating crushers, like big rolling pins with teeth."

Why so much trouble to make sugar water? For a mojito, Andrews says with pride, like no other on the West Coast.

“What’s unique about our mojito,” he says, “is that cane juice has a naturally grassy flavor with nice herbal notes that back up the aged rum.”

The rum, too, has a story, Andrews says, noting that Havana Club’s Puerto Rico distillery uses a secret family recipe, smuggled cloak-and-machete-like, out of Cuba as Castro came to power.

The aging process used to produce Havana Club, Andrews says, besides adding notes of caramel, vanilla and oak, mellows the mojito’s sweetness. “Typically a mojito is made with an unaged rum, which is going to be a little harsh, a little acrid, not as refined,” he says. “But Havana Club’s aged rum distinguishes the cocktail. It’s something you’d get at, well, a hotel casino in old Havana.”

Classic Mojito

  • 2 oz. Havana Club Anejo Blanco
  • 1 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 1 oz. cane juice
  • ¾ oz. Demerara syrup
  • 2 oz. soda
  • 8–10 mint leaves

In highball glass, bruise mint with syrup, cane, and lime. Add rum and soda, fill with crushed ice, stir. Top with ice and lime-wheel garnish.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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