How to make a mojito is something a large percentage of Cubans know how to do, as they are proud of the heritage associated with the cocktail. The drink originated in the country, as did the daiquiri and the Cuba Libra. These are all made with the Cuban rum that is nearly as famous as the island country's cigars. Thus, rum and mojitos are part of Cuba's history. It is possible the origins of the drink date to 1568 when Sir Francis Drake attempted an invasion of Havana to steal gold. One of his associates invented a drink called El Draque in his honor. It was made of aguardiente (literally "fire water" that was a predecessor of rum), sugar, lime, and mint.
How to Make a Mojito
By 1650, what we now know as rum began to be produced from sugar cane. In the eighteenth century, African slaves who worked the plantations made a similar drink from guarapo, sugar cane juice. Beginning in 1830, the Bacardi family began distilling rum, making the Bacardi brand world famous by the time of the Cuban Revolution. The mojito cocktail is particularly associated with the La Bodequita del Medio Bar, which Ernest Hemingway made famous and where he downed a large number of his favorite cocktails. While the Bacardi company left Cuba after the revolution, Cuban rum remains famous.
Follow these steps for how to make a mojito in the classic Cuban way, and drink the refreshing beverage on hot days.
Sugar and Mint Leaves
1. Gather your ingredients: 1½ ounces of Cuban rum and 1 ounce of key lime juice, freshly squeezed for best results; ½ ounce of sugar syrup, 8-10 large fresh mint leaves; club soda.
2. The quality of the rum is extremely important. Use a good white rum like Havana Club.
3. For a truly authentic mojito, make your own sugar syrup. Use two parts sugar to one part water. Boil the water and dissolve the sugar, stirring constantly. As soon as the sugar is dissolved, removed the pan from the heat and allow to cool; it will thicken as it does.
4. Gently crush the mint, sugar, and lime juice together. A real key in how to make a mojito is how this operation is done. Professionals use a stone or stainless steel pestle called a muddler, and the crushing is called muddling. You don't want to shred the mint leaves, just gently bruise them. Save a whole mint leaf for the garnish to the finished drink.
5. Place the mixture in a highball glass and pack in plenty of ice so that the leaves don't float around.
6. Add rum and top off with club soda and the whole mint leaf.
7. Variations include using lime flavored Perrier or even champagne instead of soda.
You can learn more about Cuban rum by visiting one of the island's several factories. Head to Santiago de Cuba to see the original Bacardi Rum Factory, which opened in 1868. The signature Bacardi brand, Ron Caney, is still made here, even though the family is long gone. Tours are not often offered here, but the Ron Caney bar that is part of the factory offers tastings.