Author Archives: Jonathan Laurel

Cuban Classics: Cuba Libré

By Jonathan Laurel November 20, 2019 Food

Probably the most ubiquitous of “Cuban” cocktails is the Cuba Libré, common to all those who don’t know anything about cocktails beyond “I’d like a rum and coke.”  But this dime-a-dozen drink—like many popular classics—has a surprising origin. The drink came into being around the time of the Spanish-American War (1898) as the child of a debatably-happy marriage between the native Cuban spirit and a highly addictive export from America: Coca-Cola.  In all… Read More

Cuban Classics: Mojito

By Jonathan Laurel November 15, 2019 Cocktails

Some cocktails defy historicizing; they are products of long evolutions shrouded in circumstance and myth.  The Mojito, for all its fame, is one of these—a tedious but simple cocktail with a powerfully addictive palate. Sources allege two major origin stories for the Mojito.  One associates it with famed English pirate/profiteer Francis Drake and his failed (or stalled, depending on how you read it) siege of Havana.  Allegedly, Drake’s crew was anchored off… Read More

Cocktail Flight: Cuban Classics

By Jonathan Laurel November 6, 2019 Cocktails

From American engineer Jennings Cox’s creation of the Daiquiri in the 1890s to rum runners during Prohibition, to the swanky escapism of the 1940s and 50s, Cuba’s standing in international culture was largely predicated on cocktails.  The queen city of the Caribbean, Havana was home to a cadre of culturally invaluable cocktail bars and inventive bartenders, with its native creations exported abroad through a thriving tourism industry.  Just three of our favorites make… Read More

Spicy Thai Garden Shrub

By Jonathan Laurel October 18, 2019 Cocktails

Smoked veggies, chili, cilantro, umami mezcal, tomato & herb shrub, cynar, lemon, soda water, bogart bitters A centuries-old method for preserving fruits or vegetables, shrubs are a crisp blend of sweet and sour.  We cold-infuse our shrub—made from garden tomatoes, bird’s eye chilis, sugar, and vinegar—and bottle-age it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.  The time spent in a bottle allows sugar to extract complex flavors from the ingredients. … Read More

Barrel Aged El Presidente (and some history)

By Jonathan Laurel October 10, 2019 Cocktails

Lemon cookie, butterscotch, tropical fruit Nicaraguan silver rum, rhum agricole, chambéry blanc, cointreau, grenadine, orange bitters One of the lesser-known Havana classics, this Cuban creation is a perfect pairing of rum and vermouth.  Besides being a staff favorite at West Main, El Presidente is an icon of the Golden Age of Cuban bars, as well as the modern cocktail revolution. As is typical of such a thing, the earliest origins of El Presidente… Read More