Friday, 23 January 2009


“Drunkenness is temporary suicide.” - Bertrand Russell

The Mojito is a Cuban cocktail that has rum as its base and is flavoured with mint and limes. It originated in the 16th century when Sir Francis Drake was in the Caribbean plundering the wealth of the New World, his piracy officially sanctioned by Elizabeth I. When he was visiting the West Indies, Francis Drake was to sack Havana and plunder its gold, but at the last minute he sailed away. Richard Drake, his subordinate was left behind and he invented a drink called the Draque based on aguardiente, the forerunner of rum.

In 1593, no doubt inspired by Elizabeth I’s monopoly patent on spirits, Richard Drake concocted the Draque. Aguardiente, sugar, lime and mint were combined to make a drink whose purpose was medicinal. Well that was Drake’s story and he stuck to it… In the 1800s, Don Facundo Bacardi Massó (the founder of the Bacardi company), substituted the aguardiente with rum and the mojito was born. The word mojito is a diminutive of “mojo” of African origin (Gullah: “moco”) meaning a magic charm, talisman, hoodoo or spell. An alternative derivation is from the Spanish verb “mojar” (to make wet), and “mojo” meaning wet. A popular Cuban sauce made of limes, sour oranges, garlic and olive oil is also known as “mojo”.

A mojito is traditionally made of five ingredients: white rum, sugar (or even better “guarapo” – sugar cane juice), lime, mint and soda water. It has a taste which is a combination of sweetness, refreshing citrus and mint flavours that mask the potent kick of the rum. The mojito is a popular summer drink.

To prepare a mojito, lime juice is added to sugar (or syrup) and mint leaves. The mixture is then gently mashed with a muddler. The mint leaves should only be bruised to release the essential oils and must not be shredded. Then rum is added and the mixture is briefly stirred to dissolve the sugar and to lift the mint sprigs up from the bottom for better presentation. Finally, the drink is topped with ice cubes and sparkling water, and mint leaves and lime wedges are used to garnish the glass. Variosu recipes exist and personal taste prevails as to the exact proportions. The Bacardi mojito web page has several. Here is a classic recipe:


1 part white rum
½ lime
Some mint leaves
Dessertspoonful icing sugar
Ice cubes
Enough soda water to fill the highball glass

Place the lime in wedges, the sugar, the mint in a highball glass and muddle with pestle. Don’t crush the mint, just bruise it gently so that it releases its fragrant oils and the lime its juice. Add the rum and ice cubes and fill the glass with soda water. Stir and garnish with a mint sprig and a lime slice.

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