The Mojito is one of the most popular classic cocktails around the world.
Not that you need a reason to sip back and cool off with a summery mojito―the refreshing, mint-forward, rum-based cocktail that’s become the calling card of summer―but July 11 is National Mojito Day!
The combination of light rum, lime, sugar and mint is a simple one, but endlessly refreshing and loaded with a storied history, the mojito has been a warm weather classic for over a century.
However, there have been a lot of different variations on the classic drink, with people adding other fruits, such as strawberry and mango. Others also enjoy sparkling mojitos, finishing off their drink with a splash of champagne.
A lot of people know the Mojito as being the favorite drink of famous author Ernest Hemingway.
But, where did it all begin for this beloved cocktail?
Well, its birthplace is Havana, Cuba, even if, like most classic cocktails, the history is unclear and lost to time.
However, it’s likely that the earliest version of the mojito originated in southeast Asia, where limes and sugar cane both originated. Back then, indigenous peoples likely created a form of naturally fermented sugar cane juice flavored with citrus for medicinal or ceremonial purposes.
In fact It’s known that local South American Indians had cures for several different tropical illnesses. It seems that a small boarding group went to Cuba, coming back with ingredients for medicine, that included local tropical stuff – mint, sugarcane juice, and lime – as well as a crude form of rum, which was known as aguardiente de caña.
That literally translates to burning water!
While this drink was not known as a mojito at the time, it included a combination of the ingredients that we have come to associate with our modern drink.
Some historians, on the other hand, believe the cocktail’s origin owes a lot to African slaves who were working on the sugar cane fields in Cuba during the 19th century. The sugar cane juice called Guarapo is often found in mojitos, and this was popular amongst African slaves at the time.
Fast-forward a few thousand years, and enter the legend of Sir Francis Drake, English privateer said to have been seeking a cure for the scurvy and dysentery that befell his crew during their invasion of what would become modern day Cuba. It was known that the native peoples of the island had created a medicinal tincture using aguardiente de caña, a crude distillation of fermented sugar mixed with local citrus and herbs. Drake is said to have distributed the mixture to his sailors, who enjoyed it!
By the early 20th century, Havana, Cuba had been established as a vacation getaway for rich and famous. In 1931, a ‘Sloppy Joe’s Havana Bar featured a cocktail menu that included a pair of mojitos, made with gin and rum, respectively.
In 1939, the recipe was published in the ‘‘El Floridita Cocktail Book’’, and had become a favorite of Ernest Hemingway. The cocktail lover’s love affair with the mojito has been going strong ever since.
Let’s toast to that, shall we?
In terms of the name mojito, there is also a lot of confusion and theories about where it stemmed from.
Some people believe that it is merely a derivative of the Spanish word for “a little wet”, mojadito.
But there are then others who think that name relates to mojo, which is a Cuban seasoning that is made from lime and used to flavor dishes.
Well…but how to celebrate National Mojito Day?
Of course, the best way to observe it is by drinking a Mojito, or by making your own version of the cocktail!
And we’re going to take you through how to make a Mojito.
First of all, let’s begin by giving you a shopping list of all the ingredients you will require.
The first step of the Mojito recipe is to make a simple syrup, essentially sugar water, that presents a great way of balancing out the limes’ sourness.
So, how do you make it?
Place one cup of water and one cup sugar in a pan
Heat in order to dissolve the sugar and, once the sugar has dissolved, you can remove the pan from the heat.
Add approximately 15 mint leaves and leave them to steep.
Allow the simple syrup to cool.
So, now you have your simple syrup ready, and the next thing you need to do is squeeze some limes. Fresh limes taste much better than lime juice, and you can really notice the difference. Squeeze the limes to get the juice necessary (you will probably need to squeeze either one or two limes per Mojito).
Once you have done this, the next thing you need to do is prepare your glasses: you should add a few mint leaves to the bottom of it. You should then muddle them, and don’t press too hard.
Be gentle whilst breaking up the mint leaves.
Why is this step important?
Well, it will release the flavor and essence of the mint leaves, which, of course, adds to your cocktail! You should then finish off by adding several ice cubes to the glass.
Now It is time to serve your Mojito.
Getting the ratio of ingredients right is vital so that you have the right balance. We recommend mixing two of rum with one and a half of the mint-infused syrup you have created. You should then add one of lime juice and a splash of club soda. Mix this all together and then pour it over the ice and mint leaves that you have already added to the glass.
Now your cocktail is officially ready to serve!
You can, of course, adjust the measurements to suit yourself. Perhaps you’d prefer your Mojito a bit stronger? If so, add a bit more rum until you are satisfied.
But you can also bake some mojito inspired cakes and treats. If you do a bit of digging online, you will see that there are some fantastic mojito cake recipes, including mojito drizzle loaf cake and mojito cheesecakes.
Wash these down with the iconic cocktail and you’re going to be in mojito heaven!
No matter how you decide to celebrate National Mojito Day, make sure you drink responsibly…and, above all, no getting in your car to tell your friends about your delicious creations…
Images from web – Google Research