The mojito is the national drink of Cuba, which many claim was invented in the late 19th century. Actually, the rum drink, flavored with lime and mint may date to a much earlier origin. Some say that the “pirates” of old, may have concocted drinks similar to the mojito, perhaps in the 16th century. The earliest mojito may have been a combination of a rum variant, aguardiente, and that swashbucklers of old like Sir Francis Drake, who might have called the drink “The Dragon,” or El Draque, introduced the drink to Cuba.
In the US, especially since travel to Cuba is very difficult, the mojito was often thought of as a new invention in the 1980s, but its history far predates that. It became an intensely popular drink in the US, and then people’s favor for the drink died down considerably. In the 2000s the mojito began to enjoy a resurgence in popularity and it remains an oft-ordered drink at bars across the US. Companies like Bacardi® have made the most of people’s enjoyment of the cocktail by advertising themselves as “the” rum to be used in all mojitos.
The basic mojito recipe is a combination of the following:
Many suggest that sugar cane juice is most authentic, and for the freshest taste, limes should be freshly juiced rather than using lime juice. If sugar is used it should be dissolved into the lime juice. Some recipes advocate adding about a dozen mint leaves at this point in the process and “muddling” them, or mixing them with a pestle to dissolve the sugar. Further, instead of juicing the lime, Bacardi suggests using slices of a lime half in the muddling process.
After you either mix or muddle your ingredients, you add rum, and soda water. The mix is about one part rum to three parts soda. The drink should be served on the rocks in a tall glass, and you can garnish the mojito with mint, lime, or both if you’d like. Drink historians claim that the early mojitos were enjoyed because of their refreshing quality, and it is true that mint and lime together do mask the taste of the rum to a degree and are refreshing to the palate. Some people, however, don’t care for the taste and refer to the drink as similar in taste to mouthwash.