When Cuban poet and artist, Sandra Pérez, stepped foot on Isla Holbox for the first time, she was instantly attracted to the raw colors of nature and island-lifestyle. Her concept to create a hotel infused with art in this paradise soon became a reality and the influences of Cuban culture in the property created a unique space on the small Mexican island. Cuban antiques, Cuban art, and sophisticated Cuban dining all contribute to the multi-cultured, artistic vibe Casa Sandra Boutique Hotel provides and to my delight, it boasts that their Cuban mojitos (my favorite mixed drink) are proportioned in the strict Havana standard and the best on the island. With that, I was determined to find out if it was true!
Wandering around the island and talking with the locals, I came to find out that there were a handful of Cubans who now call Isla Holbox home and that the Cuban mojito sort-of, unofficially, became the island’s signature drink. I tried several mojitos around Holbox including Casa Sandra, Las Nubes, Viva Zapata, Capriocas, and Los Peleones and the verdict was clear – Casa Sandra did do the Cuban mojito best!
I sat down with Israel, the hotel’s coctelero to learn more. Israel started by sharing a little bit of history with me: the mojito became popular from the famous restaurant Bodeguito del Medio in Habana, Cuba and it was Ernest Hemingway’s favorite drink. The difference between a Cuban mojito and a regular mojito is the rum must be Cuban! At Casa Sandra they use Havana Club Rum (añejo 3 años and añejo 7 años) and although they have a variety ways to make it, he showed me how Casa Sandra does it the signature way – by hand and with love. Mint (or yerbabuena), lime, sugar, sparkling water and rum are the main ingredients but depending on what type of sugar you use can greatly influence the taste of the mojito. The signature is made with brown sugar and opposed to throwing all ingredients in a shaker, Israel personally crushed each of the mojitos by hand in their respective glasses. The result? Perfection. To show us the difference in taste, Israel then whipped up a batch in a shaker for our testing; while still refreshingly delicious, it was very noticeable that the taste was indeed different. Israel personally prefers it shaken but said most people prefer it crushed.
Casa Sandra Signature Cuban Mojito Recipe
2tbsp brown sugar
2 mint of yerbabuena sprigs
1.5oz freshly squeezed lime
Havana Club Rum (to liking)
Splash of mineral water
Crush the first three ingredients together in a glass then add rum, ice, and mineral water. Be sure not to add too much water or all the mint will rise to the top. Stir. If you’d like, you can add a little bit of sweetening syrup to the drink.
If you are not a fan of the Cuban mojito, another popular mixed drink on the island is called Caipirinha – made with cachca, a Brazilian sugar cane alcohol.
This post is part of my #JourneyHolbox trip – reporting live from Casa Sandra Boutique Hotel on Isla Holbox. You can follow me in real-time on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and FourSquare with the hashtag #JourneyHolbox