Short Story: ‘Making a Mojito’ by Michael Thompson

A good mojito is made with white rum; a great bartender is inconspicuous. It needs to contain something like a Havana 3; he should blend in – like lime into sugar.

I apologise for the structure of that first paragraph. Sometimes I lose concentration. It’s as if somebody’s shook up my brain and strained out the thoughts. I go to some places and I see these cunts with top knots juggling boston tins like they’re on Britain’s Got fucking Talent. That’s another thing, never shake a mojito; it releases the fluid in the stamen of the mint. And never draw unnecessary attention to yourself, the drink should be centre stage, not you.

I realise I’m coming across as bitter. If I was a drink I’d definitely be a well-made margarita (25ml lime and only 5ml syrup.) My psychiatrist, yes that’s right, psychiatrist, not psychologist (a difference as crucial as cane sugar in a caipirinha) is attempting to address my sour outlook. I’ve been practicing CBT- which reminds me of WKD (an alcopop no self-respecting bar tender would stock). I’m learning how to manage my depression by altering my internal monologue. My psychiatrist tells me that I have to confront that voice which tells me that I’m useless or worthless or bad.

So, yes, a good mojito starts with a white havana rum. People think of Hemingway when they think of a Cuban-made mojito. But Hemingway drank daiquiris. Grapefruit daiquiris, which to me is an abomination. They taste like that bit of sticky tape on envelopes. He was right though when he said that to drink is to make other people interesting HAHAHA.

I digress, 50ml of white rum with demerara syrup. Next 4-6 lime wedges depending on the zestiness and size of the fruit. Then 10-12 intact mint leaves. They should always be slapped or clapped, never muddled- if you see a bar tender grinding mint like it’s tooth enamel you can be sure he’s an idiot.

It’s hard sometimes when you put so much thought into a drink and those fucking philistines slosh it back like medicine. Alcohol is that to some people I suppose – mental anaesthetic. That’s another thing I’ve been working on in my sessions: empathy.

Crushed ice is better than cracked or cubed as it aids dilution. When churning the drink ALWAYS place a napkin between your hand and the rim of the glass. Your dirty fingers are a sure fire way to attract attention. And that is the key, understand that you’re with them in body but not in spirit. You provide the spirit HAHAHA. To be a great bartender is to be a ghost.

You won’t find the next ingredient in any recipe book but it is what sets my “el draque” apart. Rohypnol- finely powdered of course, and slipped into the drink when you return the rum to the back bar. The hard work is over at this point. It’s simply more crushed ice. Another churn and finally sparkling water. NOT soda out of a post-mix gun. San Pellegrino or a variation.

Targets must be carefully selected. Ideally people who are drinking more than 3 units of alcohol in a 30 minute period with friends that are trying to slow them down. 26 is usually a good age. Under 21 and they’re all as pissed as each other. Over 30 and even the wild one is a little too mature to make a total tit of themselves. The day of the week is important too. This is not something to be attempted at a weekend. The distances people flock from tend to be further and thus impractical to traverse later.

One special mojito does the trick. Pretty soon they’re stumbling around like a pissed baby dear. That is when you offer to ring a taxi. ‘I’m calling from the Red Lion,’ I’ll say (you don’t even have to give a name), ‘and I need a taxi for…’ that is when you find out the target’s name and address from their friends.

That hour during the clean-up is always the worst. My anxiety spikes. It’s in the not knowing I think. As my psychiatrist tells me though, I have to just let the thoughts be. My doubts must be allowed to wash over me, like water across ice.

We clock out and I reconvene with my mojito drinker. Picking a lock requires the steady hand of a man well accustomed to layering bellinis in high pressure environments. As I stand over them in the dark and they lie unconscious I feel a few different things. Excitement of course but always anxiety – I suppose the two are interconnected- there is also guilt. I’m not a monster. That’s where the CBT helps. You let the negative thoughts go… whiskey over the rocks, I think. After a few minutes of watching there is no doubt.

Pinch the nose and cover the mouth. Always wear gloves. You don’t want to leave fingerprints and more importantly the smell of citrus juice has been known to rouse people from even the most profound of stupors.

I prefer to garnish my mojitos with one sprig of fresh mint. Some bartenders dress theirs with a lime-wheel but personally I think this is overkill.


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