Any drink as popular as the mojito is going to have more than one claimant to its invention. We know that the drink was devised in Havana, Cuba, but there are two principal tales that attempt to define exactly where it came from:
1. El Draque. Sir Francis Drake knocked the living bejesus out of Cartagena de Indias, and sailed into Havana with a crew half dead of dysentery and scurvy. Drake sent a party ashore to get medicine, and they returned with rum, mint, sugarcane and lime. The ship’s doctor, presumably with help from the cook, knocked up the first mojito and served it to the ailing crew. Author Ramon de Paula once recorded “Every day at eleven o’clock I consume a little Drake made from [local cane spirit], and I am doing very well.”
2. African slaves. Slaves working in Cuban sugar plantations came up with it, but without adding lime. Another theory is that the slaves simply renamed the existing El Draque.
I am not sure which of these stories to believe – probably neither. The Drake story is too cute, and the slaves may not have had access to a heck of a lot of rum. Even the name is vague: does it come from the Cuban ‘mojo‘ lime seasoning translated as ‘to cast a little spell,’ or from the Spanish ‘mojadito,’ meaning ‘a little wet?’
Of course, any drink popular in Cuba eventually ends up in the hands of Ernest Hemingway, who once scrawled on the wall of La Bodeguita del Medio “My mojito in La Bodeguita; my daiquiri in El Floridita.” Of course, historians doubt he penned this, but the epitaph remains on the wall of the bar with the signature of Hemingway.
La Bodeguita del Medio can be found at Empedrado No. 207, Havana, Cuba.
- 10–12 fresh mint leaves
- 60ml Bacardi Carta Blanca
- 12ml fresh lime juice
- 15ml simple syrup
- Soda water
Bruise the mint in the bottom of a highball glass. Add the rum, lime juice and sugar, and half fill the glass with crushed ice.
Stir the drink to mix the drink and draw up some of the leaves to distribute them in the ice. Fill the remainder of the glass with ice, top with soda and lightly stir again.