Hemingway's Favorite Libation

Bossa (610 Main Street, 713-223-2622) oozes sensuality. Even the bar is long and curvaceous, softly lit with candles and a pastel mural of a distant land. With wooden shutters, transparent curtains, leafy ferns and slow-moving ceiling fans, it's the kind of place where you half expect Humphrey Bogart to step out of the shadows and order a cocktail. In back, classical Latin melodies fill the dimly lit lounge. Two couples dressed in black at the bar speak in hushed whispers on tiny cell phones and exhale cigarette smoke as if on cue for a movie. Bianca, the bartender with the exotic eyes (ojos bonitos), refills their pitcher and sets me up with another as well. Mojitos are said to have been Hemingway's favorite libation when he was in Havana. I can see why: These things go down like water. Served in a Tom Collins glass with a big stalk of sugarcane and a pinch of fresh mint leaves, mojitos are a classic island rum drink. Drink more than a couple, and they tend to taste a little sweet, but they're perfect with spicy Cuban food like arepas (shredded beef with corn cakes) and pollo caribe (jerk chicken).

Bossa's Mojito:

1 1/2 ounces white rum
Half an ounce fresh lime juice
Half an ounce simple syrup
Six fresh mint leaves
Soda water
Sugarcane stalk

To make simple syrup, combine equal parts water and sugar, boil and reduce by half. Then, with a wooden muller, combine simple syrup, lime juice and lightly torn mint leaves in the bottom of a Tom Collins glass. Add ice, rum and sugarcane stalk. Top off with soda water. Serve under a cool tree, preferably in a secure hammock.


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