The mojito has a complex past, like all the best characters we encounter in fiction and non-fiction, novels, film and real life. It’s part of its mystery, and being fans of mystery, we’ve decided to begin our Royal Chundu cocktail series with this most curious of cocktails.
What we know almost unanimously about the drink is that the mojito is a child of Cuba, born in the city of Havana. Just how this happened… well, one story traces it back to a similar 16th century drink known as “El Draque”, named after Sir Francis Drake. Sea captain, privateer, navigator.
After raiding Cartagena de Indias, Drake’s ships sailed towards Havana and arrived with a rather unfortunate case of dysentery and scurvy on board. A typical occupational hazard at the time. A small party disembarked in Cuba to seek out a remedy that they believed the local South American Indians on land would have. The party returned with ingredients for an effective cure: aguardiente de caña (“fire water” in English, a crude form of rum made from sugar cane) mixed with local tropical ingredients: lime, sugarcane juice and mint.
Much later, around 1650, it is believed rum was added, having become widely available to the British, along with mint, lime and sugar, to dull the spirit’s harsh taste. It wasn’t yet known as the mojito but the foundation of what we know today of the cocktail had been laid.
As for the name, it either has something to do with getting wet or with casting a spell. We recommend consulting Esquire to find out more, because useless general knowledge like this can really come in handy after one too many cocktails, when barside bravado bares itself and the cigars make an appearance, all in the name of completing the Havana Nights dream. Our special moonshine mojito requires the drinker imbibe until the moon is up to lead you back to your villa on the river…
The Moonshine Mojito
• 50 ml Rum (Bacardi is our favourite…)
• A dash of Soda Water
• 2 tsp Caster Sugar
• 2 Lime Wedges
• Mint Sprig
• 1.9 units of alcohol per serve
You will need: a tall glass; a muddler; a knife; a bar spoon and crushed ice
1. Muddle caster sugar and lime wedges together in a glass (tips on muddling here) or press down on the lime wedges and sugar in a jar using a large spoon or pestle to extract the flavour and aroma.
2. Pick 12 leaves from a sprig of mint and place in the glass. Muddle or press down gently on the mint, together with the sugar and lime.
3. Add crushed ice so the glass is ¾ full.
4. Add rum and soda water.
5. Stir the mixture thoroughly using a bar spoon until well combined.
6. Top up with more crushed ice and garnish with a sprig of mint and a curl of lime or lemon peel.
Find a cosy spot to sit with friends, let the mojitos run freely like the Zambezi itself, and cheers until the moon rises and casts its shadow over your private party.