Vintage Cellars


Mojito Mojo

Want to make the best tasting Mojito cocktail ever? Grab some white rum, mint leaves and lime and muddle this way.

On July 11 each year, cocktail fans around the globe raise a glass in honour of National Mojito Day, which is now celebrated globally.

Bartenders and alcohol aficionados agree that all really classic cocktails combine strong, bitter and sweet, and the Mojito is exactly all that.

Full of flavour and fresh ingredients ‒ rum, lime juice, sugar, soda water and mint – the Mojito has earned its place in bar folklore not only for its enduring taste, but also for its long and fascinating history.

Like a lot of legendary cocktails, the origins of the Mojito are shrouded in mystery and hence hotly debated. The story goes something like this: Way back in the 1500s, English naval officer Sir Francis Drake arrived in Havana, Cuba, with a crew wracked with the twin evils of dysentery and scurvy.

A small party staggered ashore and returned with a medicinal concoction composed of aguarediente de caña (translated as “fire water”), mint leaves, and the juices from sugar cane and limes prepared by local Indigenous people.

The drink was effective (most likely due to the healthy boosting effects of the lime juice) and became known as El Draque, supposedly named in honour of Drake himself.

The cocktail evolved to include rum as its principle ingredient, along with lime, mint and sugar. Some historians claim the name “Mojito” comes from the Spanish word “mojadito” (meaning “a little wet”) and the Cuban lime-based seasoning “mojo”. Mojo is also an African world for “magic”, or “to place a little spell”, which adds another intriguing dimension to this delicious cocktail.

The Mojito really took off after the formation of the Bacardi company in the 1800s. The arrival of Prohibition in the US in 1920 sent many wealthy Americans fleeing across the Florida Straits to Cuba for a new version of the Mint Julep (bourbon, sugar, mint leaves, water) – the Mojito.

Recipes for the Mojito appeared in early American cocktail books such as Charles H Baker Jr’s The Gentleman’s Companion from 1939, and the drink’s popularity was aided and abetted by literary genius Ernest Hemingway after his discovery of the refreshment at Cuban restaurant bar La Bodeguita Del Medio circa 1942.

Appearance on the big screen would inevitably follow. Most notably, the Mojito features prominently in the 2002 James Bond film Die Another Day, as the characters of Jinx (Halle Berry) and Bond (Pierce Brosnan) flirt intensely on a beach. Magic, indeed.

Mojito Recipe

(makes 1)

  • 60ml White Rum
  • 2 tbsp Sugar
  • ½ Lime, cut into thin wedges
  • ½ cup Soda Water
  • Handful of mint leaves (no stalks)
  • Ice
  1. Place lime and mint in a tall, strong glass. Use a bar muddler or the end of a wooden spoon to muddle them together. Add sugar and muddle all ingredients again until the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Top the tall glass ¾ full with ice. Then pour rum over the ice, and fill the glass with soda water. Stir and serve.