As we head into September and towards the end of summer, let’s take a peek at another classic, refreshing drink that is easy to make, includes an ingredient that grows in your yard (or flower pot) and that may have been invented by a pirate. Yes, that’s right — this week, we’re looking at the mojito!
Hailing from Cuba, the origins of this delectable cocktail are shrouded in mystery. But if you like pirates (and who doesn’t), then hang your hat on the origin story that gives credit to Sir Francis Drake. In 1586, after another successful raid, Drake was sailing toward Havana in hopes of combating an outbreak of dysentery and scurvy on board. He sent a small party ashore in search of a remedy, and when they returned with a crude form of rum, as well as lime, sugarcane juice and mint, the mojito was born. (There are other origin stories, of course, and every history of the mojito will probably note that Hemingway was a fan of the cocktail, but then again, what cocktail wasn’t Hemingway a fan of?)
So what is needed for a mojito? Well, let’s start with rum. Skip the Captain Morgan and the other spiced rums — we need straight silver rum. I would recommend the following, which are all available at your local Hy-Vee:
If you’re on a budget: Castillo ($7.99 for a 750-ml bottle)
If you want the good stuff: Barcardi Superior ($15.99 for a 750-ml bottle)
If you want to buy local: Clearheart Light Rum ($21.99 for a 750-ml bottle)
Once you have chosen your rum, find some club soda. Then comes the fun part: the mint! You can buy from the grocery store, but why bother with that when you can pick up a plant at the Farmers’ Market and grow it at home for a quick supply whenever you want. Get a hold of limes and some sugar, and then you can start the process of making your mojito.
Take the juice of half a lime, a tablespoon of 1-2 tablespoons of sugar and 10 mint leaves and gently mash them together in a tumbler pint glass being careful not to shred shred mint leaves while you dissolve the sugar in the lime juice. Add 1-2 ounces of rum, fill the glass with ice and then top it off with club soda. Voila! Your basic mojito.
Don’t want to go through all the hassle of making your own? Well, have no fear — there are plenty of options right here in Iowa City. Atlas is known for their quality mojitos, and Mondo’s Saloon offers a whole range of flavor options for your mojito including mango, watermelon, pomegranate and pineapple.
As the heat and humidity of summer still here, if you’re looking to quench your thirst at the end of a long workday, don’t forget to try a mojito — or as it translates into English: something a little wet.