The history of the mojito is so heavily disputed that even the origins of its name is up for debate. Some claim it was linked to famed English sea captain Sir Francis Drake, who was sponsored by Queen Elizabeth I. Some say it comes from the Spanish word mojadito, which translates to “a little wet”, while others think it stems from the African word mojo, which means “to place a little spell”.

No matter which story you believe, it is hard to deny that the concoction of rum, sugar, lime, soda and mint, is certain to be good. Fans of this refreshing cocktail will be delighted to hear that Souled Out Hartamas is honouring International Mojito Day with a special menu from Thursday to Sunday until Aug 15.

Options had the opportunity to spend an evening at this new pop-up. I began the evening at the chilli-red bar in the newly constructed corner, an open-air section built specially for pop-ups. Currently named the Cuban Mojito Corner, the bar boasts 30 unique mojito flavours that are RM23 each, or RM60 for three. As Souled Out teamed up with Bacardi for this event, ambassador Jonas Ax was around to help customers with recommendations.

I began with Ax’s suggestion — the Granny Smith mojito. If you are not a fan of overly sweet cocktails, this is definitely the drink for you. The tipple was taken to the next level with the addition of salt, which really brought out the bright, green apple flavour. Muddled with mint, it was a deliciously balanced drink that I would surely order again.

Intrigued by the local flavour profiles, I tried the jackfruit mojito followed by Vietnamese ginger flower. Both were surprisingly subtle. Other local favourites are Kedondong Boi, kaffir lime, coconut calamansi and longan. I also sampled the tropical mojito — fruity and sweet, I drank it quickly. We were told that if you are looking for Instagram-friendly cocktails, the vibrant dragon fruit mojito and the stylish blue Bora Bora mojito are the way to go.

Still, for a no-fuss cocktail, the classic mojito is always a winner, thanks to the refreshing punch of mint and rum. And if you would like to enjoy it at home, Souled Out has takeaway bottles at RM19 each.

Paired with the 30 mojitos is a menu of Cuban dishes that are not to be missed. A highlight is certainly the salmon and bass salada — slivers of fresh fish served with a punchy onion, cucumber and cilantro salsa. A dish that really celebrates Cuban flavours is the paprika soy beef — juicy slices of meat served with a complex, spiced vinaigrette.

The lamb pimentos came with a memorable caramelised pepper relish while the Polo Mojo — grilled chicken skewers — were served with a traditional pico de gallo salsa. Dishes that were a little more filling include the pulled beef toast and beef meatballs, both packed with flavour.

While indulging in the sumptuous food, we also tried the Rum Two Three, a build-your-own Bacardi highball. From the various choices of rum, mixers and garnishes, you can create a drink that suits your taste perfectly. With a preference for sweet and spicy flavours, my choice was the Bacardi Carta Negra, which comprised of ginger beer and lime. And it was perfect.

Although it was not a muggy, humid night, the Mojito Ica Lollies — a sweet and cooling treat available at RM25 for six sticks — was a perfect end to a hot day.

DJ Harry, who is known on the Malaysian salsa scene, will be on hand to spin sensual Cuban tunes to set the mood. To complete the Cuban mojito experience, cigar merchants from Trinidad will also be at your service.

Satiated with music, food and mojitos, I was transported to Cuba. And since travelling is a little difficult right now, the Cuban Mojito Corner makes for a perfect in-city getaway.

Souled Out Hartamas, 20, Jalan 30/70 A Desa, Taman Sri Hartamas​, KL. 012 200 1955​. Daily, 12pm-12am.

This article first appeared on July 27, 2020 in The Edge Malaysia.

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