A harmonious fusion of white rum, sugar, lime juice, soda water, and mint, Mojito is a timeless cocktail. As a matter of fact, in 2016, a survey conducted by an international market research company revealed that the Mojito is most popular cocktail in both Britain and France.
Hailing from Havana, Cuba, the Mojito's precise birthplace remains a matter of contention. According to one theory, South American Indians ventured onto Cuban shores, returning with the essential ingredients. These components included aguardiente de caña (translating to burning water in English), a precursor to rum derived from sugar cane, along with indigenous elements like lime, sugarcane juice, and mint. Lime juice, recognised for its efficacy in preventing scurvy and dysentery, played a pivotal role. The addition of tafia/rum, becoming widely accessible to the British around 1650, supplemented the mixture. The inclusion of mint, lime, and sugar served the dual purpose of masking the harsh taste of the spirit.
An alternate theory, widely embraced, suggests the involvement of Sir Francis Drake, a privateer sponsored by Queen Elizabeth I of England, in the year 1586. Drake, having landed on the Cuban coast with a shipment of Spanish treasure, attracted attention from King Philip II of Spain, who had forewarned his governor about Drake's arrival and his pursuit of Aztec gold. Drake’s endeavour proved unsuccessful and he was afflicted with dysentery and scurvy. Desperate, his crew sought remedies from local South American Indians renowned for their healing knowledge. This remedy, composed of aguarediente de cana, mint leaves, and the juices from sugar cane and limes, proved effective.
While the cocktail, initially known as "El Draque," gained popularity in Cuba, it wasn't termed a Mojito in the early days. It is said that African slaves labouring in the Cuban sugar cane fields during the 19th century played a crucial role in the inception of the cocktail. Guarapo, the sugar cane juice frequently incorporated in mojitos, held popularity among the slaves, who assigned it a name. Notably, the original composition of the drink did not include lime juice.
Or perhaps, the name Mojito derived from the Spanish term "mojadito" (meaning "a little wet") or the Cuban lime-based seasoning "mojo."
The Bacardi company's establishment in the mid-1800s likely played a pivotal role in the Mojito's widespread popularity. Ernest Hemingway's discovery of the drink at Havana’s popular food and drink joint Le Bodeguita del Medio further solidified its status as one of the most beloved modern cocktails. Recent years have seen Bacardi's advertising campaigns promoting homemade Mojitos, and the cocktail took centre stage in a memorable scene from the 2002 James Bond film, Die Another Day, where Jinx and Bond engaged in flirtatious banter by the beach.
Not just its alcoholic version, but even Virgin Mojito is one of the most popular summer coolers around the world.
Lightly muddle the mint with the simple syrup in a shaker.
Add the rum, lime juice and ice, and give it a brief shake, then strain into a highball glass over fresh ice. Alternatively, you can use pebble ice instead and gently swizzle it all together.
Add a splash of soda and stir again.
Garnish it with a mint sprig and lime wedge.