Yar, quite literally a pirate drink, the Mojito is a refreshing summer cocktail with the flavors of the Caribbean. Mint, lime juice, sugar cane, and rum, originally a cure for an upset stomach aboard pirate ships, the only thing missing from the original Mojito is the magical mineral waters of Topo Chico.
The History of the Mojito
The history of the original Mojito recipe is quite amazing. Based on a tonic created in the 1580s by the Pirate Francis Drake, the tonic was named El Draque. Although He was a Knighted Vice-Admiral in the British Royal Navy, Sir Francis Drake was a pirate, murderer and a slave trader.
Buried Treasure and the Search for a Tonic
His famous robbery of a mule train hauling 20 tons of gold and silver is where the legend of pirates buried treasure comes from. While making his escape from a very angry Spanish military, Drake and his crew buried much of the gold. Some in the jungle and a second lot on the beach. The Spanish monarch King Phillip II offered a reward of $8 million in today’s U.S. currency, for either his capture or death.
It was during one of his many raids, whilst hiding out somewhere in Cuba, that Drake found himself and his crew too sick to make their escape from the Spanish Fleet. With the help of the medicine men of the Taino and Ciboney Tribes, they used the local ingredients to concoct a tonic to help cure the crew. Made with mint to ease the stomach, limes to treat scurvy and chuchuhuasi tree bark soaked in rum as a pain reliever. The tonic was a successful cure and allowed Drake and his fleet to escape the Spanish Armada. First concocted in 1586, El Draque is considered by many to be the very first cocktail. Chuchuhuasi is available for purchase in health food stores and on Amazon as either an extract, a powder or in pill form. Many people swear by it as an all-natural pain reliever. For a cocktail, it’s optional, however, it may cure your hangover before it occurs.
Topo Chico Mojito vs Ranch Water
These mineral waters sourced from an inactive volcano are rumored to have cured an Aztec Princess of a mysterious illness back in the 1400s. Surely if the waters themselves have magical properties, then the addition of rum, mint, and lime juice will only make them that much more magical. As a fanboy, I have to admit, this sparkling mineral water does seem to have a life of its own and elevates this simple cocktail beyond its simple ingredients.
My Topo Chico Mojito recipe is a play on the West Texas Ranch Water cocktail. Ranch Water is a 3-ingredient cowboy thirst quencher born in the miserably hot, dry dusty summers of West Texas. Topo Chico mineral water, lime juice, and tequila are all you need for this low-calorie favorite of house parties and dive bars.
The dive bar, cult-favorite Ranch Water gets a Caribbean twist in my Topo Chico Mojito. A little sugar, mint, and the addition of rum vs. tequila and the magical “curing properties” of these ingredients come together for a delicious summer cocktail.
To Muddle or Not to Muddle
Muddling mint for a Mojito is the tricky bit. If you over muddle mint it falls to pieces and everyone has bits of mint stuck in their teeth, not cool bartender.
I prefer to put the mint and a small amount of ice in the shaker and shake vigorously for a couple of seconds. This action is enough to bruise the mint and extract the flavors without it falling to pieces and polluting your cocktail.
- Ginger Lime Mojito: Ginger simple syrup is a welcome addition to the Mojito, ironically, ginger is also a home remedy for an upset stomach. How come the pirates didn’t add ginger?
- El Draque: The original tonic from the 1580s, not all that different from our modern version of the Mojito. Although, you do need to find a specialty store that sells Chuchuhuasi Root.
- Frozen Mojito: Add the ingredients to a blender with ice and you have an amazing Mojito Slushie.
- Coconut Mojitos: Just substitute an ounce of coconut milk for the sugar
- Frozen Fruit Mojitos: Blended with ice and fruit or berries, this is either a Fruity Mojito or a Minty Daiquiri. I’m unsure.
- The Honey Bee Mojito: Similar to the ‘Bee’s Knees’ gin cocktail, simply make a simple syrup of honey, water, and mint leaves.
This is my recipe for the Topo Chico Mojito
Topo Chico Mojito
- 2 Ounces Rum White or dark both work
- 1/2 Ounce Simple Syrup
- 1/2 Lime Juice only
- 6 Mint Leaves
- 1 Bottle Topo Chico
- Mint Leaves
- Lime Slices
- Add the rum, simple syrup, lime juice, and mint leaves with a few ice cubes to a cocktail shaker, shake for a few seconds to bruise the mint leaves
- Pour into a highball glass with fresh mint leaves and slices of lime, top off with Topo Chico