The Mojito: A Caribean cocktail with a centuries old history

The mojito is a refreshing summer drink that is sure to cool even on the most sweltering of days. But what many do not know is that its history begins with pirates.Made famous in modern times due to Ernest Hemingway’s love for the drink, and seeing a new surge more recently due to the Bacardi Company’s new ready-to-make advertising campaign, the mojito has a surprisingly long history.

Pirate Origins

According to The Mojito Company, the story of the mojito begins in the mid 1580’s on pirate Francis Drake’s ship when his associate, Richard Drake, the crew “doctor” would use aguardiente, a predecessor of rum, with sugar, lime and mint as a medicinal cocktail. Many on the crew would enjoy the drink during their pillaging of the Cuban islands, and because of this, the cocktail became popular throughout the Caribbean world. Drake named the beverage El Draque, the dragon, after Sir Francis.

In the 1800’s, when rum became popular, it replaced the aguardiente, and the mojito was born.

Another story states that the mojito was invented by slaves working Cuban sugar cane fields in the 1800’s. This story shares similarities with the origin of the daiquiri; however, and many believe the stories have become confused over the years.

Hemingway and the Mojito

It is not surprising then, that a cocktail that originated in the Caribbean would become the ideal summer cool down. Ernest Hemingway adored the drink and was said to have enjoyed it at La Bodequita in Havana, Cuba. He is said to have written, “I drink my mojitos at la Bodequita and at La Floridita,” on the wall there.

The Mojito

Ingredients and hardware:

  • 10 – 12 mint fresh mint leaves
  • 2 Tablespoons simple syrup
  • 2 oz. light rum
  • 1 lime, sliced
  • Club Soda
  • Lime wedge and mint sprigs for garnish
  • Muddler

In a highball glass, gently crush the mint leaves and the sliced lime with a muddler. Add syrup, and fill glass with ice. Add rum and top with club soda. Stir to mix. Garnish with lime wedge and a few sprigs of mint.

Recipe variations

Like many summer cocktails, people experiment in order to get exactly what they’re looking for. In the case of the mojito, many different flavors can be added to the original recipe to spark new taste sensations. In order to add more flavor, one can either add the desired fruit (raspberry, mango, strawberry, etc) to the lime and mint during the muddling process. One can also replace the lime with these fruits if desired.

Another way to get more flavor is to use flavored rums. Rum flavors range from raspberry to watermelon to orange.

No matter how you enjoy your mojito, remember, drink responsibly. Always have a designated driver and remember to know your limits!

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