Mojito is a traditional Cuban highball made up of five ingredients and having rum as alcoholic base. Mojito is very popular among alcohol starters due to it having relatively low alcoholic content. In today’s time there are hundreds of variations of Mojito and especially its mocktail counterparts are quite popular among teetotalers.
Havana, the capital city of Cuba, is attributed with being the birth place of classic mojito. The most commonly accepted story goes like this – In late 16th century, after successfully raiding at Cartagena da Indias, when Sir Francis Drake sailed towards Havana, his board was suffering an epidemic of dysentery and scurvy. Thus a group landed at Cuba and came back with a bunch of ingredients which turned out to be quite effective in treating both dysentery and scurvy on board. These ingredients were – crude form of rum, lime juice, mint, and sugarcane juice. These ingredients were mixed together to form a drink then known as “El Draque”, which later came to be known as world famous classic Mojito cocktail. Though rum and lime juice itself would have treated both dysentery and scurvy, but sugarcane juice and mint were utilized so that they could suppress harsh taste of the crude rum.
On the other hand, some historians believe that the African slaves working on Cuban sugarcane fields in 19th century were the original creators of this drink. But the major difference in their drink and Mojito is that their drink never contained lime juice.
Just like its origin, there are different stories surrounding the origin of the name “Mojito”. Some believe that the word “Mojito” stems from African word “Mojo” which essentially means to perform a little spell. Some theories also relate the name to a Cuban seasoning mojo which is made mainly from lime. Whereas, another prominent theory states that mojito is derived from Spanish word “Mojato” which means wet.
Mojito simply rose to prominence when world famous writer Sir Ernest Hemingway declared it to be his favorite drink after trying it once in a Cuban bar. The bar “La Bodeguita del Medio” where he first tried this drink is now one of the most popular transactions in Havana.
Hope you enjoyed this history of Mojito in our series of “History of classic cocktails”.