The Basics History & Trends

History's Great Sips: The Mojito

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One of the world’s most popular highballs, the Mojito, wasn’t created simply because its combination of muddled spearmint, sugar, lime, rum and soda water is deliciously effervescent and refreshing. It was initially the work of an enterprising pirate.

Back in the 1580s, while Sir Francis Drake’s ships sailed toward Havana, a pirate by the name of Richard Drake (who was of no relation to Sir Francis Drake) created a drink to guard against an outbreak of scurvy.

Unlike the modern-day Mojito, the drink was made with a type of moonshine called aguardiente de caña (Spanish for “sugar cane firewater”). According to Bacardi archivist Juan Bergaz Pessino, the lime in the cocktail, known then as El Draque, protected against scurvy, the sugar helped to give the pirates vitality, and the hierbabuena (“spearmint”) was good for their consumption.

The drink’s history doesn’t end there. When Bacardi was born in 1862, according to Bergaz Pessino, it replaced the firewater in the cocktail with BACARDÍ® rum and then became known as the Mojito, which comes from the Spanish word mojado (“wet”).

The Mojito is now the national drink of Cuba and has gained notoriety in cocktail history books for its association with one of Havana’s most popular residents, Ernest Hemingway. He inscribed on a napkin, “My mojito in La Bodeguita, My daiquiri in El Floridita,” at the restaurant La Bodeguita del Medio. And people come from all over the world to sip the drink.

Can’t get away? Make one at home with this classic recipe.