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If you’re after something to sip poolside this summer, then the classic Cuban Mojito will likely be high on your list. Like many great cocktails the origins of the Mojito are hazy, full of folklore, and often contested; the result of this being a drink that has evolved over a long period of time rather than being any one bartender’s creation.
One origin story, and probably the most romantic, dates back to 1586 when, following his victory over the Spanish in the Battle of Cartagena de Indias (in modern day Columbia), Sir Francis Drake sailed for Havana. An outbreak of scurvy and dysentery amongst his crew prompted Drake to send a party ashore on Cuba on June 4th to seek a remedy from the indigenous population. They returned with an early and barely drinkable form of sugar cane rum known as aguardente de caña, lime, yerba buena (a local variety of mint) and sugarcane juice, which when mixed together and consumed helped to prevent scurvy (largely thanks to the vitamin C in the lime). A century later, when rum and tafia (it’s un-aged equivalent) production was developed as a highly profitable source of revenue for the British-owned sugarcane plantations across the West Indies, rum replaced aguardente de caña and a cocktail of rum, lime, mint and sugarcane juice known as “El Draque”, supposedly named for Sir Francis Drake, became popular across Cuba.
Whether the Mojito started life aboard the ships of Sir Francis Drake’s fleet or a century or so later amongst the slaves working the Cuban sugar cane plantations (as is otherwise argued) is still open to debate, but one thing that is certain is that for the past century this Cuban export has been a worldwide success story.
Here at the Bella Luce we offer you a choice of white, dark or spiced rum depending on whether you’re after a bright and refreshing cooler or a more flavoursome and complex cocktail, and if you don’t have a sweet tooth then we add mint bitters to cut through the sugar. Soda water can also be replaced with champagne, if you fancy pushing the boat out and ordering a Royal Mojito. If you can’t make it to the Bella's bar anytime soon, here’s how we mix a Mojito for a summer’s day:
Recipe: Royal Mojito