Best Mojito - 2004
Much of the pleasure of a good cocktail comes from the ambience in which it's savored, viz., a sweetly potent margarita among the Christmas lights of La Rondalla; a tumbler of single malt at the dark 'n' moody Edinburgh Castle; a crisp martini at the eternally elegant Top of the Mark. And when you want a Mojito, the very essence of sultry Caribbean gratification, the place to imbibe is Habana. In mood and detail, it's reminiscent of a Mambo Kings-era Havana nightspot, complete with flowering banana palms, indoor patio, colorful wall mural, and heavy shutters to keep out the tropical heat. Best of all, a row of glasses brims with fresh mint when you take a seat at the bar. Most places begin the Mojito-making process by grinding the hell out of a bushel or so of mint; here, a dozen stemless leaves are bruised just enough to release a more subtle flavor. Shaken with ice, sugar syrup, the juice of a whole lime, a slug of good white rum, and a splash of soda, then served in a tall frosty glass with a beautiful sugar-cane swizzle stick, the Habana Mojito is a not too minty, not too sweet, perfectly balanced example of the genre.