What Is a Mojito?
The mojito is the epitome of the refreshing cocktail, stripped down to just the bare essentials of rum, lime juice, sugar, soda water, and mint. Each ingredient is seemingly specifically selected to cure hot weather-induced pangs of thirst — it is in turns sweet, acidic, minty, and sparkling.
The origin of the drink, is, of course, debated, as is any other cocktail with so much history. The most agreed upon answer to its beginnings, however, can be traced back to a similar cocktail called the "El Draque," named after Sir Francis Drake. This pirate drink was made with Cuban spearmint, sugarcane, lime, and tafia, a primitive predecessor to rum. This drink was served in Cuba throughout the ages, where it evolved into the modern Mojito that we now know.
The mojito eventually developed into the unofficial drink of Cuba, garnering many fans along the way. One of the most noteworthy would be Ernest Hemingway, who considered it one of his favorite drinks, especially when served at Cuban cantina La Bodeguita del Medio.
The drink recipe itself is very easy, yet surprisingly difficult to execute perfectly. There is a very specific order to the cocktail, starting first with adding the mint sprigs to the sugar and lime juice. Then, this mixture is carefully muddled just enough to release the natural oils in the mint leaves, but not enough to shred them. The rum is then added to dissolve the sugar and float the mint leaves from the bottom for better presentation. Only then is the drink topped with ice and soda water, creating the perfectly balanced mojito. The classic recipe can sometimes be tweaked by adding different flavored rums, juices, and garnishes, and some bars in Cuba will add a dash of Angostura bitters to cut through the sweetness.
In the end, however, this drink needs little editing. It is an excellent drink to measure the talent of a bartender by, as its main principle is simplicity done right.