I remember a Bacardi commercial from when I was in high school where a bartender muddles mint to the beat in a Miami club. He stops momentarily and the beat stops and the lights come on and patrons look around confused. Our strapping bartender smiles and the beat picks right back up as he drives his muddler back into the glass.

“Tonight,” an appropriately cool and soothing voice says, “do the mojito with the refreshingly cool taste of a Bacardi mojito.”

I think the mojito exists in most people’s minds this way, vague but refreshing.

Mojitos have an odd cultural cache. I am not sure what any given person's touchstone for the drink may be but I would venture a guess that most people could tell you how the drink makes you feel if not what is actually in it. It might not be in your average Joe bartender’s repertoire but I bet most would know to start with white rum and fresh mint.

During the hot summer months, I recommend you familiarize yourself with what must be a contender for most refreshing drink on the planet.

All origins of the drink are pretty much tall tales. There is even debate if the name is of Spanish or African origin. The story that sounds right to me involves a bout of dysentery, as a shocking number of cocktail origin stories do.

In the 1580’s when famous Privateer Sir Francis Drake was running amok in the Caribbean, his crew became afflicted with dysentery off the coast of Cuba. A landing party found local medicinal herbs including mint as well as sugarcane and limes. They mixed what they found with a little aguardiente de cana, which roughly translates to “burning water” and is a very crude precursor to what we now know as the spirit rum. they called the concoction “El Draque.”

Legend has it the crew got better. It is not known if this concoction existed in Cuba previously or if it was invented on the ship but that is generally accepted the first time those particular ingredients were combined and given a name.

Another cultural touchstone for the drink that jumps out to me is Michael Mann’s 2006 Miami Vice Film starring Colin Ferrell and Jamie Foxx who played Detectives James “Sonny” Crockett and Ricardo “Rico” Tubbs, roles made famous by Don Johnson and Phillip Michael Thomas on the old TV show of the same name.

Crockett asks Isabella, played by Gong Li, if she would like to get a drink.

“What do you like to drink,” She says.

“Im a fiend for mojitos,” Crokett growls.

“I know a place,” she responds before they board a cigarette boat  boat and motor off to Havana for “the best place for mojitos.”

I think you can be a fiend for mojitos too.


2 oz. white rum

3/4 oz. fresh lime juice

1/2 oz. Demerara syrup (2:1 Demerara sugar:water)

mint leaves

soda water

Grab 10 to 12 mint leaves clap them in your hand to wake them up and begin to express the oils of the leaves. Gently muddle the leaves in a Collins glass. Combine the rum, lime juice and Demerara syrup in a cocktail shaker and shake to combine the ingredients. Pour over ice into the Collins glass and top with soda water. Garnish with additional mint leaves.