The Mojito
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Cuba’s Mojito is the hybrid of drinks. It’s either a Rum Rickey with a muddling of mint or a Mint Julep made with rum, lime juice and seltzer. Consider it what you will, the drink is a Cuban favorite—even while it has an English pedigree.

That’s because it stems from El Draque, sometimes called the first cocktail (an erroneous distinction, since it contains no bitters). The drink is named for the British privateer Sir Francis Drake, who sailed to Cuba in 1586, intending to sack its gold stores. Instead, his crew was stricken ill with dysentery or cholera. The remedy was a mixture of sugar, limes and mint, all easily accessible. It isn’t clear whether the spirituous portion was rum or aguardiente (a sugar-based, but fiery, version that African slaves had used to make a similar medicine). Drake’s crew introduced the Draque around the world. With the addition of seltzer, it was the hit of the 1930s Havana bar scene, earning the moniker Mojito by 1934. While Havana’s La Bodeguita del Medio is known for popularizing it, the drink’s invention predated the bar. However, the establishment may have introduced the sensible technique of gently muddling the mint. 

The etymology of the name is also muddled, but our favorite theory is that it comes from mojo, an African term for “to cast a spell.” It certainly can do that.

MOJITO

2 oz. rum (white is traditional,
but aged is tastier)

3/4 oz. simple syrup or superfine sugar

3/4 oz. lime juice

8 mint leaves

Seltzer water

Gently muddle 7 mint leaves with syrup in the bottom of a mixing glass. Add rum and lime juice. Shake with ice. Strain (preferably with a julep strainer) over ice cubes in a Collins glass. Fill with seltzer. Garnish with remaining mint leaf.

SEE HOW IT’S MADE For a video on mixing a proper Mojito, click here.

Drink

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