The Mojito – love it, loathe it, or feel indifferent. Whatever your thoughts, there’s a reason why this rambunctious yet simple 5-ingredient cocktail, is the song title to the kind of melodies that make you want to head to the closest beach party, glow stick in hand. This party-starting Cuban highball has travelled through decades of celebrated peaks and ploughed through the trenches of fads. As it’s reached bars around the world and increased in popularity, its muddled origins have been the topic of much debate, shrouding this mesmerising cocktail in mystery. How was it discovered, by whom and where? In today’s blog post we pay homage to the stimulating, spell-casting cocktail that made guest appearances in the 2002 James Bond movie and earned Ernest Hemmingway’s praise.
1. Its origins
Who to thank for this tantalising cocktail is disputed. Some have said that it originated from African farm workers who worked in the Cuban sugar cane fields. Others argue that it was mixed on Sir Francis Drake’s ship to relieve colds and fevers. How and where it was first made isn’t as interesting as how it was discovered. There are two popular beliefs: the first is that Ernest Hemmingway discovered it in a restaurant called “La Bodeguita del medio” in Havana, Cuba, which claims to have come up with the recipe. or, as a cure for a band of privateers. The second belief makes for a riveting story. It was only in the 1500s when Sir Francis Drake discovered the cocktail by some stroke of luck, that the world would come to know it. His crew, low in spirit after losing the invasion, also suffered from dysentery and scurvy. As a cure, the local South American Indians made a healing tonic of juiced limes and sugar, aguardiente de cana, and mint leaves. This tonic would later be known as El Draque after Sir Francis Drake and later, mojito.
2. Its name
Having gone by other monikers in the past, it’s widely known as a mojito today. The meaning of its name is, you could say, as misty as where it originated. The etymology suggests that it derives from the Spanish verb “Mojar” which means wetness. And though that seems believable, others say that enslaved Africans who worked on the sugar cane farms, named it “mojo” which means to cast a small spell. This name’s origin points to the perceived medicinal properties the drink had.
3. A mojito with a twist is okay
Of course, when the healing Cuban tonic was first mixed there were no bitters involved, but to give the mojito a modern twist, barmen have been known to add a dash of bitters. Expect the bitters to give the mojito a depth of unexpected flavour you’ll definitely appreciate. Another modern take on a mojito is using tequila instead of white rum.
4. Stirred not shaken
Unlike another popular James Bond cocktail, to ensure the flavour of the drink comes through, the mojito is stirred, not shaken. The stirring usually takes place after the mint and sugar are muddled, blocks of ice are added and the rum is poured into the glass and topped up with soda water. A bar spoon is used on the side of the glass so that the oils and mint infuse into one flavour.
5. It’s one of the oldest drinks still consumed today
Although the first known Mojito recipes were in 1927 in Spanish under the name El Arte De Hacer un Cocktail y Algo Mas, the cocktail has been around for over 500 years. Still consumed today using its original ingredients, this highball has proven that it has the staying power to last another 500 years! Partnered with Bacardi Rum (what we’d describe as the best rum in the world), on World International Rum Day we celebrate and appreciate the origins of a drink that ignites the taste buds warm the soul, and makes memories last a lifetime. To get a taste of Cuba in the comfort of your own home, have a look at our rum box equipped with everything you need to create the perfect mojito.
Not sure how? Allow us to create a Cuban experience you and your friends will be talking about for months to come. Let us make it happen!