We usually have to travel into central London for events as 1) we live in a quiet south-eastern suburb and 2) the area was built by a quaker and factory manager who left drinking establishments off the plans. However, last week a Havana Club mojito masterclass event popped up at one of the very few local pubs that we do have – the Crown Tavern in Lee.
The evening was hosted by Callum, brand ambassador for Havana Club in the UK and as we still had those nice summer evenings, Alana from the Crown Tavern had set up tables in the pub’s garden.
As with most pub-based events, it was very casual and laid back, with Callum covering the basics of rum, Cuba and the mojito. There’s two ideas of how the mojito was created: was it Francis Drake’s medicinal creation to alleviate the scurvy that was hitting his seamen or created by African slaves working in Cuba’s sugarcane fields?
Callum had brought along three expressions of Havana Club: Havana 3, Havana Añejo Especial and Havana 7 and taught us a trick used by Havana Club’s master blender – cupping a few drops of rum in our hands and then rubbing into the hands helps bring out the aromas. With Havana 3 this brought out the grassy, straw flavours you get a hint of in the bottle.
We then got a taste of the Especial, which has strong vanilla aromas due to its double ageing process and the use of young oak barrels. This one went down well around the table due to its smoothness.
Then it was time for business: mojito making. Callum demonstrated the classic version: half a lime(squeezed, not left in the glass), 2 teaspoons of white caster sugar, 2 sprigs of mint (stalks included for extra oils and flavour), fill the glass with cubed ice (the traditional Cuban way, rather than crushed), add a double shot of Havana 3, stir and top with a dash of soda water.
We were then let loose to make our own take, using the lime, sugar and mint classic base and personalising with the range of ingredients on the table: basil, rosemary, thyme, fruit syrups, fresh berries, coconut chunks, coconut cream and chilli. The stakes were upped by the news that the best would be rewarded with a bottle of rum.
Rebecca – red berry syrup (scored a 7 out of 10)
Chris – crushed coconut (went very bitter and scored 6 out of 10)
The winner used basil and crushed green chilli, just enough to provide a hint of spiciness.
The evening ended with a taste of the Havana 7, more oaky on the nose, but still with the vanilla notes of the Especial.
I think everyone underestimated how much we’d been drinking – these were proper double-shot mojitos, plus tasters of the rums and after staying for a chat with Callum, and getting a tour of the huge space the Crown Tavern has to offer by François, we giggled our way back down the road home.
Many thanks to Alana, François and team at The Crown Tavern for getting Callum from Havana Club to host this fun mojito masterclass.
Until next time, keep rumming!