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 birthplace 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.
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.
Always use white rum for mojitos. Avoid spiced rums, because these will take away from the freshness of the mint and lime.
Spearmint is most commonly used for mojitos and is what you’ll likely find at the grocery store labeled generically as “mint.” For an authentic Cuban mojito, use mojito mint, or Mentha x villosa, a type of mint native to Cuba with a more understated flavor than that of spearmint.
Use freshly squeezed limes for best flavor. When shopping for limes, look for fruits with smooth skin, as this indicates the fruit is full of juice.
Folks often substitute simple syrup for sugar in mojitos because it blends into the drink more smoothly. However, classic mojito recipes call for granulated sugar. Not only does this ensure the drink isn’t overly sweet, but the occasional undissolved sugar granule adds texture that’s signature to a classic mojito. If you prefer, you can use superfine/caster sugar in place of granulated sugar, as this will dissolve more easily into cold liquid.
Top everything off with club soda to lighten up the drink and balance out the other ingredients.