Everything You Need To Know About Mojitos
Courtesy Max Pixel
active: 15 min
The Mojito, a Cuban specialty, is a classic drink and one of the most delightful and fashionable hot-weather libations.
Once proclaimed to be the favorite of bad old Fidel himself, and was supposedly also a favorite of Hemingway—though I greatly doubt this as it’s much sweeter than his other known favorites and he never seems to have written about it anywhere—the Mojito (pronounced moe-Hee-toe) is nonetheless an enticing, refreshing, cooling and utterly delectable concoction.
Although it has the look and feel of something very modern and stylish, the mojito is basically a Cuban variation of the American mint julep. Where the julep is Southern, and so sometimes thought of as conservative and stuffy, the mojito is Latin, and is therefore considered to be hip, sultry and tropical.
Like the julep, the true pedigree of the mojito runs back quite a ways and its actual origins are similarly a tad obscure. The mojito’s antecedent can be found in a Cuban drink known as El Draque or Draquecito, which is a heady brew of Aguardiente de Cana, water, lime juice, sugar and Yerba Buena, sometimes also called Hierba Buena, a local Cuban mint. Aguardiente de Cana, or ‘firewater of the sugar cane,’ is simply raw, unaged, unfiltered, and haphazardly made rum.
The appellation Draque was named either by, or for, the 16th-century British privateer and explorer Sir Francis Drake. Other accounts maintain the drink was invented, or perhaps just favored by, African slaves working the sugar cane fields. Based on this version, it is thought by some that the later developed Mojito is a play on “Mojo,” meaning “to place a little spell” in some unspecified African dialect.
On the other hand, “mojo” is a Cuban Spanish word for “sauce,” and “mojar” is a Spanish verb “to make wet” or “moisten.” Since “dry” is another way of saying “without alcohol,” and since the earliest known printed recipe for this comes from a 1929 Cuban cocktail book, the name Mojito might just as simply have been a playful Cuban name for a refined version of a long popular local drink that slaked the thirst of a great many Anglo tourists escaping Prohibition.
As with the mint julep, there are a great many fiercely contested recipe variations to slug through. Consider My Mojito recipe: