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All About Cuban Mojito: Legendary Origin, Traditional Recipe and Variations 

Looking for a tropical beach getaway? Craving a refreshing break from the same old routine? Well, you’ve come to the right place, because a Cuban mojito is your answer. 

Legendary origins with famous pirates and writers, the traditional mojito recipe with key tips and tricks, delicious variations and pairing ideas…  Here’s your definitive mojito guide

In other words, here’s your golden ticket to the most refreshing and sunny break of all. 

It happens rarely, it’s almost like seeing a shooting star, but the unique taste of the famous Cuban drink certainly stands up to its roots. 

Its popularity both in Cuban culture and in the rest of the world didn’t come out of the blue. From historic pirates to world-renowned writers, the Cuban mojito has seen it all.

Legend has it that we have Sir Francis Drake to thank for the invention of the mojito. It is said that the origin of this famous cocktail took place in the 16th century at the hands of this English pirate, one of the most famous of his time.

During his Great Expedition to the New World, an epidemic of scurvy and colic broke out aboard Drake’s ship. In desperate search for a cure, a landing party went ashore in Cuba and returned with a local mixture of sugarcane spirit (a precursor to rum called tafia) mixed with lime, cane juice and mint. 

The mixture effectively prevented the disease and was named “El Draque” in Drake’s honor. However, each of the components contributed a quality that made it unique and necessary to make the drink a delight and to disguise its harsh taste as a ‘remedy’. 

The tafia provided warmth, the lime fought scurvy (a disease that sailors suffered from quite often due to vitamin C deficiency from not eating fresh fruit for months), the mint and other herbs were refreshing and digestive, and the sugar softened the flavor. 

Quite some time after the era of the pirates, the origin of the mojito as we know it today dates back to 1910 in Playa de la Concha (Cuba), where it was created by a Spanish descendant who prepared it in a bar for aristocrats.

It was Ernest Hemingway himself who made this delicacy famous, as he used to visit the well-known Bodeguita del medio. La Bodeguita it’s a renowned place in Cuba for its delicious mojitos and because great personalities such as Pablo Neruda, Salvador Allende, Mohammed Ali or García Márquez, among others, used to meet there. 

Hemingway would write: “My mojito in La Bodeguita. My daiquiri in El Floridita”. They even still keep his signature, as a relic of one of the many illustrious personalities who have sat at that bar. This is because in the 1920s and 1930s, during the American Prohibition, many U.S. citizens traveled from Key West to Cuba to be able to drink to their heart’s content. Thus, Havana quickly became a paradise for wealthy Americans.

cuban mojito

By the beginning of the 21st century, the popular mojito cocktail experienced unprecedented growth and international fame. Tourism, cinema and advertising played a decisive role in this development. Who knows, maybe if you visit Cuba you can stop by the Bodeguita and write the tale of your life, mojito included.

Rum, lime juice, sugar, soda and mint. Just a couple of ingredients that, through the magic of mixology, automatically take us to the sunny shores of the Caribbean. The mere mention of the Cuban mojito evokes a soft breeze with images of the exciting nights of Havana.

But of course, many times we don’t have the time to take a plane to Cuba and go to the Bodeguita del medio. Sometimes we just want to go to our kitchen, do a little mixology magic, and fly to the heat of Cuba one drink at a time. 

So, how to make mojito, you ask? Well, here lies your golden ticket. Let’s take a look at the traditional mojito recipe to make the perfect cocktail right in the warmth of your home.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 ounces of white rum
  • One squeezed lime, about 1 oz. of juice
  • 6 mint or spearmint leaves 
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • Crushed ice
  • Soda or sparkling water

Instructions:

  1. Cut the lime in half and squeeze it into a glass.
  2. Add the sugar and stir
  3. Add the mint or the spearmint leaves, and with a mortar and pestle or the back of a spoon crush a little, so that they release their essential oil. Do not crush the leaves, just crush them a little, without breaking them.
  4. Add crushed ice up to half of the glass.
  5. Add the soda, until approximately ⅔ of the glass is filled.
  6. Now add the rum. You can regulate the amount according to the taste of the person who is going to drink the mojito, putting a little more or a little less than the recommended measure. Mix well.
  7. Garnish with a mint leaf, serve and repeat the process for the number of friends.

How to crush ice

The easiest way to get crushed ice is to simply put the ice cubes inside a sturdy plastic bag and, with a lot of force, hit them against the floor. 

You can also put the bag on the table and crush it with a mortar and pestle, but the formula of smashing it against the floor is faster and more effective (and a little bit more therapeutic indeed).

How to add a touch of flavor to the rim of the glass

For the more detail-oriented, before starting to make the cocktail, you can run a piece of lime along the rim of the glass, or you can also cut some mint leaves with your hand and run them along the rim.

How to cut perfect lime wedges

To get a perfect lime cut for decoration, crush the lime by rolling it with your hand against the table to soften it. Then, we cut from end to end and divide one of the halves in two by cutting it in the middle, and once again, getting 8 perfect wedges from a single lime. After that, we only have to make a cut in the center and place it on the edge of the glass.

And like any good recipe, one of those that are kept for generations to come, the traditional mojito recipe admits infinite and delicious variations. 

Although the original flavor cannot be beaten, there are days when we feel like doing a bit of experimenting. That way, for example, at a nice dinner party, we can offer different variations to satisfy every taste bud.

It’s easy: Just take the original recipe and consider it your artist’s canvas. Think of adding some pepper for those who want a subtle but delicious change. Or perhaps, for those who want the full tropical flavor, we can change the traditional rum for a coconut rum and add coconut cream. There we have the most tropical and sweetest mojito of all. 

Another idea is to add a little fresh fruit to the equation. Think mango or strawberries, whether it is a flavored rum or squeezed juice, the mojito will taste fresher and, also, more colorful. So, whether for a mojito party with friends or for your break in routine, a feast of possibilities is at your fingertips. 

Last but not least: the pairing. No Cuban dinner party is complete without some Cuban cocktails. And likewise, no mojito party is complete without a delicious, classic Cuban menu

The mojito is known not only for its refreshing taste but also for being the perfect pairing for fresh seafood dishes, such as shrimp or ceviches. 

However, as it offers a non-invasive taste, this Cuban cocktail is very permeable to all Cuban dishes. That is also why it is so popular in Havana and all over the world. 

So now you know: if you’re looking for traditional Cuban food in Atlanta (or in any corner of the world) to pair with your mojito, a seafood dish or a succulent and delicious Cuban sandwich will go perfectly.

In other words, here lies everything you need to put together your own delicious golden ticket to a paradisiacal destination.

Finally, the mojito guide you didn’t know you needed. Now you can bring that break from the routine you wanted so badly to this weekend, to tomorrow, to tonight. 

The classic Cuban mojito is the magic gateway to the salty smell of the sea, to the texture of the sand, to the Cuban music playing in the background. 

Just save this guide and invite your friends for a home-made holiday to remember.

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