Mojito Masterclass at Sanctuary

By Jonathan McNamara

I walked up to the two hostesses with bleach-blonde hair wearing mint green dresses. Earlier, they’d ushered me into this Bacardi-sponsored “Mojito Masterclass” at Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain with a smile at the door and a quick check on the guest list. Now, they were mingling with the crowd of restaurant owners, hotel managers and bartenders, who were snacking on satays while sipping, what else, a multitude of minty mojitos.

See more photos from the event in our slide show "Mojito Masterclass at Sanctuary."

“So do you two like mojitos?” I know, I know. Ask a stupid question, get a marketing-trained answer, but it was already out there.

“I order them all the time,” said the bombshell on the right. “I really like the melon ones.”


Maybe I’m a bit old-school when it comes to my cocktails but it seems to me that a true mojito comprises mulled mint, limes and sugar with rum and a splash of club soda. When you start tossing strawberries into the mix you’re ruining a perfectly good drink, right?

Tasting a variety of mojitos

Against my better judgment, I gave a mojito mixed with watermelon-flavored Rum and fresh strawberries a try. I was surprised that it lacked the artificial Jolly Rancher watermelon taste I expected from a flavored rum, but even that wouldn’t be enough to convert me when a standard mojito is within reach.

The “Masterclass” section of the evening got underway with a talk from Bacardi Brand Master Apprentice Aaron Jason Rodonis, who gave an oral history of Bacardi and its connection to the mojito. According to Rodonis, the original hand-mulled mint, sugar and lime cocktail used a less-filtered rum with a much harsher taste. It was the introduction of the smoother Bacardi brand rum in 1862 that lead drinkers to start referring to the drink as a “mojito” which translates to “a little spell.”

It’s a quaint story that may or may not be true, but like most of the attendees, I was a bit too steeped in limey goodness to care too much.

Mixologist Brian Loukmas took the stage next to make sure all in attendance learned the correct way to make a Mojito.

Here’s what you do:

Mojito (according to Bacardi)


  • 1 tall cocktail glass
  • 1 hand muller – use plastic or metal, but not the varnished wooden ones unless you’d like floaty bits in your drink.
  • 1 cocktail shaker
  • 8 mint leaves
  • ½ a lime
  • Lots of ice
  • Rum
  • Club soda
  • Simple syrup (combine equal parts water and sugar)

Slice the lime into nice wedges remembering to trim the bitter, white core. Place these in the cocktail glass. Add the mint and one shot of simple syrup. Mull this in the glass. Fill the glass with ice so that it is nearly overflowing. Pour rum into the glass so that the level is three quarters the height of the glass. Place the shaker over the glass and shake only a few times. Pour the contents back into the glass and top off with a splash of club soda. Garnish with a sprig of mint and a lime wedge, then enjoy whether you’re hob-nobbing with the service industry’s elite or just enjoying a drink with friends.

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Jonathan McNamara