On an especially hot summer day, it doesn’t get more refreshing than a Mojito cocktail. Simple and yet tasty, this Cuban classic is one of the most famous rum-based highballs globally, even more so in Europe. A mixture of white rum, sugar, lime juice, soda water, and mint, the Mojito is undoubtedly a favorite of many.
Deep-rooted in many years of the nation’s traditional history and one of her cultural icons, the Mojito cocktail’s story begins in Cuba, from where it has been told over and over again in many bars and homes in different parts of the world. Here’s a little something about its roots.
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REFRESHMENT FROM THE CARIBBEAN
There is no disputing that the Mojito cocktail originates from Havana, the largest city and the capital of the Republic of Cuba, in the northern Caribbean. That is, however, as exact as we can be. The rest of the story, such as the particular location and the original creator, is still largely disputed.
A popular theory is one involving a small party and their quest for medicine for various tropical diseases. The party supposedly went ashore in Cuba and returned with ingredients such as a crude form of rum made from sugar cane mixed with lime, sugarcane juice, and mint. Aside from the fact that lime juice effectively prevents dysentery and scurvy, the other ingredients served to mask the harsh taste of the rum.
There’s yet another theory that Sir Francis Drake, an English sea captain who existed in the mid-1500s, is the cocktail inventor. Instead of rum, though, he prepared it with brandy and all the other combinations of ingredients and named it “El Draque.” The present name came later.
The Mojito cocktail has also be linked to African slaves in Cuba who worked in Sugarcane fields and are responsible for the name “Mojito.”
Regardless of whether this special cocktail was invented by a medicine-seeking party, a sea captain, or African slaves, several celebrities gave it fame sometime in the 1930s. Prominent amongst them was an American journalist, novelist, and sportsman, Ernest Hemingway. The highly admired adventurist developed a taste for the good old cocktail at a bar in Havana called La Bodeguita del Medio, where he became a regular. As someone who was loved by his generation and even more by later generations, it is no wonder he could garner much attention to the Mojito and hence the bar. What with his famous inscription, “My Mojito in La Bodeguita, my daiquiri in El Floridita,” crested boldly on a wall of the bar along with the signatures of other notable celebrities such as Errol Flynn and Nat King Cole. Thus, the Mojito became a sensation and remained at the top of the world’s most famous cocktails to this day.
MAKING A MOJITO
If you have a muddler and a stirring spoon along with white rum, sugar, lime juice, soda water, and mint, then you have all you need to make yourself a Mojito cocktail. Follow these simple steps;
- Add about 7 fresh mint leaves, a splash of club soda, 2 teaspoons of sugar (or to taste) to a highball glass.
- Muddle a little, just enough to extract the flavor of the mint and dissolve the sugar
- Cut lime in two halves, squeeze them both, and drop one half into the glass.
- Add 6cl (2oz) of rum and stir.
- Fill the glass with ice cubes and if it pleases you, garnish with a mint sprig.
Voila! You’ve got yourself the perfect Mojito cocktail. A major advantage of this cocktail is that its basic recipe can be adjusted to personal taste. For instance, lime can be substituted for lemon or some other fresh citrus fruit; rum can be replaced with vodka, tequila (Mexican Mojito), gin and sprite (English Mojito), or even without any alcoholic beverage (Virgin Mojito) and etc.
As has been mentioned before, the Mojito cocktail is the way to go on a hot summer afternoon. A word of caution; be careful not to make a full pitcher for yourself lest you be tempted to drink it all and end up as high as a kite. Yes, the legendary Cuban highball can do that too.