Old Cuban

Papaya mixed with tobacco

We love a theme party! It's a real chance to use what you know about someone – what they like and where they've been – to create a true reflection of their personality. This party was for my husband, who’s a big fan of rum and cigars. Add my love of salsa music to the mix and a Cuban theme was an easy choice.

To get a feel for the party atmosphere, think the film Chef. Great soundtrack, a passionate salsa-fuelled vibe and friends and family aplenty. Not forgetting those amazing-looking Cubano sandwiches (you have to try one!) which are so central to the plot. In fact, every detail created for the event was inspired by the film. The beautiful city of Havana with its untouched architecture and heady mixture of aromas – the sweet smell of fresh fruits mingling with the unashamed love of tobacco smoke….

To set the scene, we transformed our garden into a typical Havana backyard, complete with BBQ. As people arrived, the amazing outfits came with them! Traditional Cuban drinks and cigars soon had the party going with a swing. Dominoes (a Cuban passion) dominated the men’s competitive streak, whilst the ladies danced to every track – bringing a little piece of Latin America into our home.

As you’d expect at a Cuban party, rum played a starring role in the evening, with a Mojito Cheesecake, a Rum Bundt Cake and four different rum cocktails on offer. These were all made by hand, right down to the sugar syrup. The biggest hit was The Old Cuban cocktail, something we'd never made before. It really was gorgeous! We have Jamie Oliver to thank for this beautiful drink – here’s the recipe if you’d like to try it.

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For one Cocktail –

  • Martini glass or a Champagne saucer.
  • 40 g caster sugar
  • ½ a lime , juice from
  • 70 ml Bacardi 8 year old dark rum
  • 1 sprig of fresh mint , leaves picked
  • Angostura bitters
  • a handful of ice cubes
  • 50 ml Prosecco

Chill a martini glass or cocktail saucer in the freezer.

Heat the sugar and 25ml of water in a small pan until the sugar dissolves to a syrupy consistency, swirling the pan occasionally. This creates your sugar syrup.

Add the sugar syrup, lime juice and rum to a cocktail shaker. Lightly bash the mint leaves in a pestle and mortar (we used a rolling pin and a bowl), then add to the mixture with a couple of dashes of Angostura bitters and the ice cubes. Pop the lid on and give it a good shake, then sieve into the chilled glass. Top up with Prosecco and enjoy.

As for the Cubano sandwiches, we followed the recipe from Chef to the letter. It’s a lot of work but every bite you have is 100% is worth it. I’ll be using the amazing Mojo Marinade again and again!