[:it]by ANNA TAMBURRINO
In the world of mixing there are few certainties. One of these is that the protagonist of the summer is always him, the Mojito. Whether it is due to its fresh and thirst-quenching taste or its "exotic" origins, there is no city bar or chiringuito on the beach that, with the arrival of the summer, does not start serving exorbitant quantities of the cocktail of South American origin that from for years, or rather centuries, it has delighted and refreshed generations of drinkers during the torrid summer evenings.
In summer, in fact, the venues are literally targeted, especially for aperitifs and after dinner, and the most popular cocktail, ordered by dozens and dozens of people every day, is always the Mojito. Now that summer is finally here, it seems like the best time to tell you the story behind this drink.
The origin of the Mojito remains somewhat controversial. An early version of the story has it that a similar cocktail was invented by a pirate in Francis Drake's fleet (some say by Drake himself) in the 16th century. He, after having circumnavigated the world, landed in Havana and with aguardiente (literally "burning water", a low quality distillate precursor of the rum we know today), lime, water, refined white cane sugar and a kind of mint local that grew only on the Caribbean island and was easily available, Hierba Buena, mixed the ancestor of the first Mojito in history which he baptized as El Draque or Draquecito.
This cocktail made a virtue of necessity. The use of lime was thanks to the corsairs, who fought scurvy and the lack of vitamin C by making immoderate use of the citrus fruit so dear to the world of mixing, the Hierba Buena, much kinder than wild mint, it was easily found in the Caribbean and was a natural anti-inflammatory that aided in digestion, as well as imparting a bit of an aromatic scent to smelly ship holds. The aguardiente on the other hand, in addition to being willingly drunk by the men at sea, also acted as a disinfectant if necessary.
In the following centuries, Draquecito underwent small changes, dictated by the transition from the coarse aguardiente to Rum.
Another version of the history of this cocktail is linked to the slaves of the Caribbean and dates back to the end of the eighteenth century, when sugar cane was fermented to create a sort of nectar and then mixed with aguardiente. The result was mojo, generally known as a marinating sauce made from lemon juice and garlic, which however was not enjoyed as a pleasure drink but was used by the so-calledcuranderos” (healers) in their healing rituals.
Some also think that the etymology of the word “Mojito” suggests a link with the Spanish term “mojadito” which means “wet”; others, finally, put forward the hypothesis, considered the least reliable, according to which the link is instead with the term voodoo "mojo”, or “enchantment”.
Even on the modern version of the Mojito there is no absolute certainty as to who proposed it first, but the names usually most pronounced are those of the barmen at the Bodeguita del Medio, a place in Havana. The cocktail then became popular in the mid-1800s especially thanks to the Bacardi company, which made alcohol its commercial force, reaching its peak of popularity in the twentieth century.
Now that we know its history, many will wonder what the secret is to preparing a perfect one.
The recipe is quite simple and involves the use of:
4 cl of Cuban white rum
3 cl of lime juice
7 hierba buena or mint leaves
2 tablespoons refined white cane sugar
The process is equally easy: place two teaspoons of white cane sugar and the lime juice in a tall tumbler. Mix carefully, add the mint and press it gently (caress it) with the pestle. Add the rum and finish with a splash of soda water. Garnish with a sprig of mint and a slice of lime. Serve with a straw.
According to the original Cuban recipe of “Mojito criollo”, which means local, also add a touch of Angostura
Among the numerous variations of the Mojito we can mention the Mojitaly, very similar to the original but with a mint bitter Fernet instead of Rum, the liquorice Mojito, the Basito, which replaces the mint with basil, and the maracuja Mojito.