National Mojito Day
Hipsters rejoice and bartenders take cover, because July 11th is National Mojito Day!
A Prohibition standard that gained popularity as the favorite drink of author, Ernest Hemingway, the Mojito is a drink of Cuban origin consisting of white rum, sugar, lime juice, fizzy water and mint.
The Mojito allegedly derives its name from the African word “mojo” or “spell”.
History and Folklore:
1586: England’s Queen Elizabeth I wants her take of the spoils of the Americas and sends in pirates, corsairs, privateers and bevy of other nasty sorts to plunder the riches of the Spanish holdings. Enter Sir Francis Drake: a pirate so successful that one of his treasure hauls equaled more than the entire national budget of England.
One day Drake hatches a plan to sack Havana and make off with the formerly Aztec gold stored within the city. Unfortunately for him, the Spanish king, King Philip II got wind of the plot and warned Cuba’s royal governor, who then had time to prepare the city for the incoming raiding fleet. When the fleet eventually arrived, Drake waited a few days, fired of a few inconsequential shots and then sailed away on his merry pirate way.
That Drake didn’t leave much of a drink impact, but one of his lieutenants, Richard Drake allegedly created a namesake “medicinal” cocktail whilst in theater in order to offset some of the more nasty Caribbean ailments by combining aguardiente (literally “fire water”) or tafia (a cheap rum precursor), sugar, lime and mint. The “Draque” was soon being served by locals unlucky enough to be caught in the wake of its creator’s plundering. For all of his efforts, Queen Elizabeth granted Richard Drake a hefty monopoly on the production of all manner of spirits production in the region.
During the 1800’s aguardiente was subbed out for by rum and drink became a hit with Cuban farmers who saw the combination addition of sugar, lime and mint as an easy way to make their cheap bottles of house hooch slightly more appealing. By the time of Prohibition, the drink was a fixture at Cuban beaches and clubs frequented by foreign booze cruisers.
Earliest written appearance:
As far as tracking down the validity of the Drake origin story, good luck to you, for it appears to be lost in the mist of time, legend and perfectly packaged PR spin. The earliest Mojito recipes didn’t appear until the publication of “Sloppy Joe’s” Bar Manual in the 1930’s.
Sloppy Joe’s Mojito Recipe
recipe from Gourmet Magazine, July 1943
- 1 lime, halved crosswise
- 3 fresh mint sprigs
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 oz (2 tablespoons) white rum
- 1/3 cup chilled sparkling water
Squeeze juice from both lime halves into a 12-ounce highball glass, then add lime halves. Add mint and sugar and crush mint with back of a spoon until sugar is dissolved. Add rum and stir. Add ice, then top off drink with sparkling water and stir well.
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