Not that you need a reason to “sip” back and cool off with a summery mojito―the refreshing, mint-forward, rum-based cocktail that’s become the calling card of summer―but July 11 is National Mojito Day. The combination of light rum, lime, sugar and mint is a simple one, but endlessly refreshing and loaded with a storied history, the mojito has been a warm weather classic for over a century.
Like most classic cocktails the history is nonlinear and lost to time. However, it’s likely that the earliest version of the mojito originated in southeast Asia, where limes and sugar cane both originated. Back then, indigenous peoples likely created a form of naturally fermented sugar cane juice flavored with citrus for medicinal or ceremonial purposes.
Fast-forward a few thousand years, and enter the legend of Sir Francis Drake, English privateer said to have been seeking a cure for the scurvy and dysentery that befell his crew during their invasion of what would become modern day Cuba. It was known that the native peoples of the island had created a medicinal tincture using aguardiente de caña, a crude distillation of fermented sugar mixed with local citrus and herbs. Drake is said to have distributed the mixture to his sailors, who enjoyed it.
By the early 20th century, Havana, Cuba had been established as a vacation getaway for rich and famous. In 1931, a ‘Sloppy Joe's Havana Bar featured a cocktail menu that included a pair of mojitos, made with gin and rum, respectively. In 1939, the recipe was published in the ‘‘El Floridita Cocktail Book’’ in 1939 and had become a favorite of Ernest Hemingway. The cocktail lover’s love affair with the mojito has been going strong ever since. Let’s toast to that, shall we? Here are some variations on this classic cocktail to keep your summer fresh, fun and irresistibly cool.
12 Spearmint leaves
2 tsp sugar
2-3 Lime Wedges
2 oz Denizen White Rum
5 oz of Topo Chico Mineral Water or seltzer
Combine the mint and sugar in a mixing glass and muddle until the mint is slightly bruised. Add ice and lime, then rum, and stir. Top with sparkling water or seltzer and garnish with a spearmint leaf and lime wedge.
TAKE ME TO BRAZIL: SPICED CAIPIRINHA
The caipirinha is Brazil's national drink, and a cousin of the mojito. Instead of rum the caipirinha uses cachaça, which is distilled from fermented sugar cane juice. Our recipe is a twist on the classic using an aged cachaça, thyme and allspice.
2-3 Lime wedges
Sprig of thyme, picked
1 tsp sugar
1 oz Hamilton Pimento Dram Liqueur
2 oz Abelha Aged Cachaca
In a rocks glass, muddle 2 lime wedges, thyme leaves, and sugar for about 30 seconds or until just combined. Fill the glass with ice, then add the cachaça and pimento dram. Stir until incorporated and serve garnished with lime.
SAK PASE MOJITO
This variation brings the classic flavor of the mojito to another part of the Caribbean. It’s made using Rhum Clairin is a light, slightly grassy, agricole-type rum spirit popular throughout Haiti. We love Saint Benevolence, created as a joint venture between two philanthropists and a local minister whose family also owns a distillery. Every sip of Saint Benevolence Rhum Clairin directly funds medical services, educational programs and economic developments benefitting the people and local communities of Northern Haiti.
3/4 oz Mike’s Hot Honey Syrup (2 parts honey, 1 part hot water, stirred until dissolved)
6 mint leaves
¾ oz fresh lime juice
2 oz Saint Benevolence Rum Clairin
Sparkling water or seltzer, if desired
Lightly muddle the mint leaves with the honey syrup and lime juice until just combined. Add the clairin, then stir to combine. Top with sparkling water or seltzer, if desired, and garnish with a lime wedge and mint.