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August 2007                                                        back to Pub Reviews


Mojitos (pronounced mo-HEE-toe) is from the African word mojo, and means to place a little spell. According to havanajournal.com, Bacardi traces the drink’s roots to 1586, when Francis Drake attacked Havana for its gold. While the invasion was unsuccessful, Drake’s associate, Richard Drake, was said to have invented a mojito-like cocktail known as El Draque made with aguardiente (a crude forerunner of rum), sugar, lime and mint. It was initially consumed for medicinal purposes. Around the mid-1800s, the recipe was altered to include rum. In 1940, Cuban playwright and poet Federico Villoch proclaimed: “When aquardiente was replaced with rum, the Draque was to be called a Mojito.”

Other sources claim the Mojito was developed in Cuba in the late 1800’s as a thirst quencher enjoyed by sugar cane harvesters (http://www.perfectmojito.com/history.html). It is believed the rum available was harsh, so they started adding a little water and sugar cane juice to sweeten and soften it up. This mixture gradually evolved to a mix of lime juice, mint, and soda water.
By the early part of the 1900’s, the Mojito was a popular working class drink at the Playa de Mariamao, a beach in a Havana borough.   
In the early 1940’s the Pleasant Storage Room was founded.  It was in this tiny establishment where the owner sold rice, beans and other dry goods to local patrons.  Shortly after its opening, it expanded to include rice, beans, pork and chicken on the menu.  In 1950, the two- story restaurant changed its name to La Bodeguita del Medio, or The Little Storage Room in the Middle (http://www.perfectmojito.com/history.html).

It was in this humble establishment that Mojito was perfected. It is here that Hemmingway drank them, as well as other stars -   Brigitte Bardot, Pablo Nerudo, Nat King Cole,
Jimmy Durante, Erroll Flynn and Gabriel Garcia Marquez to name a few.

The mojito is an excellent way to test a bar's (or bartender’s) ability to mix premium cocktails. Since it is time consuming to prepare (compared to other cocktails), it is often thrown together, with little care or attention to detail.  If slapped together, the mint can be minimally “muddled” (see below), the leaves limp and still with their stems on.

When preparing a mojito, it is not necessary to use a premium or dark rum.  The delicate flavours would be lost in the sugary mixture. Since it is meant as a refreshing drink, a light rum is used to prevent the drink becoming too sweet.  At the same time, it can't be such “gutter rum” that it detracts from the smoothness of the final product.


With summer upon us, what perfect time to try your own mojitos and your own mixologist skills!! The following recipes were all taken from the internet from various sources, links provided.


The Original Recipe - from La Bodeguita del Medio in Havana, Cuba. http://www.tasteofcuba.com/mojito.html

1 teaspoon powdered sugar
Juice from 1 lime (2 ounces)
4 mint leaves

1 sprig of mint
Havana Club white Rum (2 ounces)
2 ounces club soda


There are countless recipes for the Mojito (prounced moh-HEE-toh), but this version is for the one Hemingway himself enjoyed at the Mojito's place of birth: La Bodeguita del Medio in Havana, Cuba. 


Place the mint leaves into a long mojito glass (often called a "collins" glass) and squeeze the juice from a cut lime over it.  You need about two ounces of lime juice, so it may not require all of the juice from a single lime.  Add the powdered sugar, then gently smash the mint into the lime juice and sugar with a muddler (a long wooden device - you can also use the back of a fork or spoon).  Add ice (preferably crushed) then add the rum and stir, and top off with the club soda.  Garnish with a mint sprig.

** Optional ** While the following isn't the authentic original Bodeguita del Medio Cuban recipe for a mojito, some people will take half of the juiced lime and cut into into four wedges to add to the glass.  Another variation is to add Angostura bitters to cut the mojito's sweetness, which is a popular version in Havana hotels although not the true Bodeguita recipe.  Some Cubans also use "guarapo" in place of the powdered sugar, which is a sugar cane syrup available in some supermarkets or online Latin grocery stores. 


The Classic Recipe: (http://havanajournal.com/culture/entry/cuban-mojito-history-and-recipe/)


12 fresh spearmint leaves

2 tablespoons simple syrup (see note)

1 1/2 ounces light rum

1/2 lime, sliced

Splash of club soda

Lime wedge and mint sprigs for garnish


In a highball glass, gently crush the mint leaves and the sliced lime with a muddler or the back of a spoon. Add syrup, and fill glass with ice. Add rum and top with club soda. Stir to mix. Garnish with lime wedge and a few sprigs of mint. Makes 1 servings.


Note: Make simple syrup by heating 1 part sugar with 1 part water until dissolved; cool before using. You may substitute 4 teaspoons superfine sugar.


And an alternative for the vodka drinker….. I came across a couple of vodka mojitos recipes.  Though not classic mojitos, they will no doubt satisfy the vodka lovers!!  

Vodka Mojito (closest to the classic mojito)

1.5 oz Vodka
5 mint leaves
1 fesh lime
1 oz simple syrup (just sugar in water, mixed till its dissolved)

Muddle the mint and simple syrup in the bottom of a Collins glass. Fill with crushed ice. Add the vodka. Squeeze some of the lime juice (save lime for garnish). Top with soda water. Stir to mix.

Garnish with mint sprig or lime wheel.

Mojito Mint Julep (from the Van Gogh web site)


Although I am not a big “flavoured vodka” fan, I thought I would include this.  It is a new product from Van Gough – as far as I know, it isn’t available in BC yet.  Only the espresso and pomegranate flavoured Van Gogh vodkas are here. But one day, it may show up!


Splash Simple Syrup

2 oz Whiskey

3/4 oz Van Gogh Mojito Mint Vodka


Fill an 8 ounce highball glass about one-third full with ice cubes. Pour ingredients over the ice and stir thoroughly. Fill glass with Sprite or ginger ale.




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