The dog days of summer
call for cool, refreshing drinks, and the
Cuban-inspired Mojito is one of this
year’s most popular choices. Amoretti, based in Chatsworth, Calif.,
has made this minty rum-based cocktail accessible to a whole new audience
with the recent rollout of Mojito Libre. The product, which was more than a
year in the making, combines fresh mint and limes with simple syrup for an always-consistent, easy-to-prepare mixer.
“Before our product was launched, bartenders
would take fresh mint and muddle it, fresh lime and muddle it, and would
make their own cane syrup, and then go on to make their drink,” says
Maral Barsoumian, who founded the company with her husband Jack.
“There are so many variables that you could never get the drink to
taste the same, even with the same bartender.”
The company was asked by a large restaurant customer
to develop a Mojito mixer, and the Barsoumians had the enviable task of
researching this Cuban favorite in restaurants and bars in both the United
States and the Caribbean to pinpoint its flavor characteristics. The result
is an all-natural and preservative-free product that Barsoumian says cuts
preparation time for bartenders from eight minutes to less than one.
“We spent quite a bit of time on it because the
mint starts oxidizing the minute you snap it. You lose the wonderful aroma
and taste,” Barsoumian says. “It’s crucial to perfectly
capture that fresh mint sensation. When you open the bottle, it smells like
you’ve literally cut the mint right then and there.”
While the current version of Mojito Libre is designed
for foodservice use, the company has plans for a more ready-to-drink
consumer version of the product in the future that will simplify the
process even further.
Keep them guessing
A key element to Amoretti’s success is Jack
Barsoumian’s R&D experience and tireless study — he is said
to have conducted more than a quarter of a million R&D-related
experiments throughout his food and beverage career. Through their
research, the group discovered that the perfect Mojito flavor is complex
“When you first taste it, you think ‘that
was mint I tasted first, the fresh spearmint,’” says Maral
Barsoumian. “But then when you take the second sip, you think
‘No, that was lime at the beginning.’ You have to create a
point of confusion and if you successfully get that person to be confused,
that’s the perfect Mojito. If it’s too minty, too limey or too
sweet, then you’ve lost it.”
She says Mojito Libre is able to achieve that balance
because it is not a flavored syrup, but a blend of fresh ingredients.
“This is the actual mint and lime and sugar, perfectly balanced
together. When you make this drink, it’s not a sugary, syrupy
product. It’s the real Cuban drink.”
In addition to its mixer business, the company
operates the largest pastry ingredient manufacturing business in the United
States. It won, for the first time in U.S. history, the World Pastry
Championship in 2002 and 2004. It actually was the pastry business that led
Amoretti into one of its other beverage forays, pomegranate juice. The
company produces a shelf-stable pomegranate concentrate, again for
bartenders, that frees up refrigerator and freezer space required by most
pomegranate concentrates, and provides a flavor that stands up to mixed
drinks. Unlike ready-to-drink pomegranate juices, which become watered down
as mixers, the pomegranate WONF is a full-strength product.
“We have created a pomegranate product that is
shelf-stable, without preservatives, that delivers the beautiful taste and
aroma of juice concentrate,” Barsoumian says. “It’s very
strong and thick, and a very small amount gives [bartenders] a good
The company also manufactures pomegranate juice as an
ingredient for beverage companies that want to use the trendy fruit in
their products. To round out its extensive behind-the-bar lineup, the
company produces Capriccio Exotic Island Smoothies, fruit blends that can
be used in both mixed drinks and non-alcohol smoothies.
“It’s a new concept where we take fresh
fruit and dehydrate a critical amount of the water out of it,”
Barsoumian says. “Bartenders can use it to make daiquiris, Margaritas
But it’s the Mojito that has people buzzing
these days, and Barsoumian says it has met with enthusiastic response in
its first few months on the market. She says it is most popular in markets
such as California and metropolitan areas around the country that already
are familiar with the Mojito.
“It’s extremely refreshing,” she
says of the popular drink. “You almost
think you’re tasting an exotic lemonade. It’s not an
overwhelming drink. It’s very refreshing and cooling, and goes with
almost anything.” BI
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Beverage Industry’s December issue highlights five beverages brands that are “shooting for the moon” in terms of innovation. Also in this issue, we spotlight the premiumization of the private-label beverage market, the latest trends impacting the use of tea ingredients in beverages, the growth of beverage sales in the eCommerce platform, and much more!