Mojitos on a student budget

Is it cheaper to do it yourself or get served?

It was one of those crazy sunny days on Burnaby Campus when all I wanted was one more day of spring break. And then I got this text from non-BCIT friends that made me squirm:

“We’ve been at Havana since 2pm. We just ordered a pitcher of mojitos, come join us here.”

—(courtesy of Angelina Theilmann)

—(courtesy of Angelina Theilmann)

When classes were finished for the day, I sprinted (via transit) to Commercial Drive. Like magic, I was at Havana, a restaurant with arguably the best patio in East Vancouver.

When I arrived, my friends were licking their lips, laughing, and basking in the sun. I was suddenly on vacation again. They were lapping up the last sips of a pitcher of strawberry-lime mojitos. Reaching for the pitcher, I realized that all that was left was ice, and a vibrant residue of limes, crushed strawberries, and mint.

My mouth watered and I prepared to order a glass of my own. Then I heard my conscience whisper, “Angie, you’re on a budget.” Right. I sighed and put the pitcher down.

Because we all know student loan money isn’t for mojitos.

And then the dizzying effects of the sun kicked in and it occurred to me. Maybe I could recreate all this at home without blowing my daily budget.

[pullquote]”Planning ahead is key to getting cheap ingredients, or you might be destined to drink Lucky Lager for the rest of your student life.”[/pullquote]

A little more bronzed from the sun, we said our good-byes. My friends were tipsy and I was now on a mission.

Havana’s mojito pitcher costs $25 plus tax and tip. Factor in the value of morale-boosting patio camaraderie and top-notch people watching the pitcher provided. Could mojitos on a student budget live up to those at Havana?

I tried to get the secret recipe from Havana but I could tell they were on to me. Googling strawberry lime mojitos, I realized the ingredients are pretty obvious given the name.

I did my best to find the cheapest ingredients on my way home. I amassed no-name soda water, not-the-best strawberries from halfway around the world, three limes for a buck, and a nice bunch of mint that was a little pricey. I knew my roommate had a bit of rum kicking around the house. My neighbour lent me his ice-cube tray after I told him I saw a mojito in his future. The challenge was on. And now, the results are in.

My conclusion? Making mojitos on a whim is doable, though more expensive than I guessed. Planning ahead is key to getting cheap ingredients, or you might be destined to drink Lucky Lager for the rest of your student life. And hey, if you’re studying, don’t worry. A refreshing rum-less version will keep your wallet padded, your head clear, and provide a “refreshing” preview for the weekend.


The total pro-rated bill for a pitcher of my mojitos came to about $24, or $4 per glass. COST After tax and tip this came out to $32.20 or about $5.50 per glass.
Requires moderate common sense and an ability to find mint. DIFFICULTY I’m not even rating this.
Knowing where grocery stores are, kitchen knife skills, clean drinking vessels, and knowing how to ration out rum generously. SKILL
Ability to look like a hipster, drink mint and strawberry-flavoured things, and squint while communicating with a server.
Make your own nachos, invite as many friends as you want and not wait for a table. And your friends should tip you. PROS You feel like you’re a Hollywood star with your big sunglasses. The patio overlooks a park. It’s people-watching and  pretty pitchers at their best.
If it rains you are forced off your fire escape and into your living room. Wait, that’s not a downside. CONS Easy to order all sorts of things at a bar and leave full of grease and minus your rent money.


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