Colorful Cuban drinks

Mojito & Cuba Libre: National Rum Day

Colorful Cuban drinks

Anyone who has ever wanted to travel to Cuba has envisioned themselves sipping a famed mojito or Cuba libre. After all, what could be more Cuban than rum except for perhaps a cigar. August 16 marks National Rum Day, and to celebrate we’re sharing the history and recipe behind some of Cuba's most popular drinks.

Mojito's are one of the island's oldest cocktails. The name itself comes from the African word "mojo," which means to place a little spell according to the Miami Herald. The drink's roots can be traced to 1586, when Francis Drake and his pirates tried to sack Havana for its gold. While the invasion was unsuccessful, Drake’s associate, Richard Drake, was said to have invented a mojito-like cocktail known as El Draque made with aguardiente (a crude forerunner of rum), sugar, lime and mint. That recipe was considered strictly medicinal purposes. In the mid-1800s, the recipe was altered and gained in popularity! Other accounts suggest that slaves working in Cuban sugar cane fields in the late 19th century invented the mojito.

Mojito Recipe:

  1. Place mint leaves and 1 lime wedge into a sturdy glass.
  2. Use a muddler to crush the mint and lime to release the mint oils and lime juice.
  3. Add two more lime wedges and the sugar, and muddle again to release the lime juice.
  4. Do not strain the mixture.
  5. Fill the glass almost to the top with ice.
  6. Pour the rum over the ice, and fill the glass with carbonated water.
  7. Stir, taste and add more sugar if desired.
  8. Garnish with the remaining lime wedge.

Cool off with a mojito

Cuba Libre

The Cuba Libre (Spanish for "Free Cuba") originated around 1900 in Havana during the Spanish-American War. Patriots aiding Cuba often toasted the West Indian Island and its freedom with this rum, cola and lime cocktail. Of course, there are variations calling for cherry cola, dashes of Caribbean hot sauce or even adding higher-proof rum – called a Cuban Missile Crisis.

Cuba Libre Recipe:

  1. Pour two ounces of white rum into a highball glass with ice
  2. Squeeze in the juice of half a lime
  3. Fill the rest of your glass with cola
  4. Garnish with a lime wedge

And if those four steps are too taxing, just join one of International Expeditions’ Cuba people-to-people travel programs and sample this drink and others while exploring this extraordinary island!



creative commons imageImage courtesy of Kenn Wilson & Creative Commons