mo·ji·to/mōˈhētō/ or little spell.
In the 1930's, during the prohibition era in the US, Cuba was enjoying a very cool and refreshing cocktail called Mojito. The pleasure of this relaxing drink consists of rum, sugar, preferably raw, "hierbabuena" or mint, lime and soda water.
It is believed it was invented in a restaurant bar called La Bodeguita del Medio, right in the heart of the colonial port city, La Habana. At the time, Cuba was one of the most popular travel destinations in the world.
The name Mojito comes from the African word mojo, which means to place a little spell on all those who drink it. Some historians contend that African slaves who worked in the Cuban sugar cane fields during the 19th century were instrumental in the cocktail's origin. The slaves concocted a popular drink made from distilled sugar cane juice called 'guarapo'. The sweet nectar was drank alone or used in cooking sweets and eventually used in Mojitos.
Another theory referring to the origin of the name relates to mojo, a Cuban marinade made from lime or orange juice, spices and herbs, and used to flavor dishes.
In spanish Mojito is simply a derivative of 'mojadito', which means "a little wet", or simply the dimunitve of "mojado" (wet).
But every great cocktail must have a legendary story to spice up it's origin. Sir Francis Drake, appears in the weaving of this story. In 1586, in an effort to control the riches from the America's, Queen Elizabeth I of England, sponsored and encouraged pirates to plunder Spanish cities in the New World. One such character was Francis Drake, whose job was to sack Cuba where the Spanish crown kept hidden Aztec gold, previously taken out of Mexico. When King Philip II of Spain, got word of this news, he warned his governor in Cuba of Captain Drakes plan, and the city had time to prepare.
Fourteen pirate sails appeared off the coast of Cuba and waited there for several days. Captain Drake did not set foot on the port, he sailed away from the island giving up after firing only a few shots.
Captain Drake did not plunder La Havana, but his subordinate, Richard Drake, left a legacy of a drink called the Drake or "El Drako" (meaning the dragon). The invention of the recipe consisted of "aguardiente", the crude predecessor of rum, sugar, lime and mint. It was mostly consumed for medicinal purposes during one of the worst epidemics of cholera (spread by trade routes by the Europeans) to attack the population of La Havana.
In the mid 1800's, refining the production of rum, Don Facundo Bacardi established the original Bacardi Company. The original recipe for the Drake was altered, replacing the 'aguardiente' for rum, then becoming a Mojito.
|La Bodeguita De Cuba|
La Havana, Cuba
The cocktail reached it's glamourous popularity when people from the US, whom were escaping a prohibition of alcohol, travelled to Cuba for their vacations. Since the late 1930's, American mobsters had been involved in Cuban gaming. It was the gathering point for America's top gangsters, as well as celebrities.
"My Mojito in La Bodeguita"
Of notable repute, one such celebrity whom enjoyed the Mojito everyday, was Nobel Prize laureate American writer Ernest Hemingway. He made a permanent home for himself in La Havana and frequented every afternoon the bar La Bodeguita del Medio. It is here where he wrote and published in 1952 his last novel The Old Man and the Sea, set in Santiago, Cuba.
The Mojito, made its way to Key West, and much of the credit for introducing it into the US goes to Ernest Hemingway. Due to the geographic proximity of only 90 miles, the transportation of beer and rum from Cuba to Key West during the Prohibition, made the drink ever more popular.
Then came Miami and the South Beach scene, where it became the drink of choice. Being a major holiday destination, tourists spread the joy of the cocktail to New York where it became trendy in the Soho clubs and from there spreading all over the world.
To enjoy a Mojito: