Some say the mojito goes back to the mid-1500s, but I doubt that, especially as rum was just being invented about then. No one knows who invented this drink or when. All that is known is that it was created in Cuba. It is structurally a rum collins with mint, and the collins style of cocktails started to become common in the United States around the 1880s. Also, many American-style cocktails quickly made their way to the Caribbean because of trade and tourism, so it’s reasonable to assume this could have been invented as early as the 1880s. The recipe I have here is the Mojito from the 1935 Bar la Florida book. Bar la Florida was one of the most popular and influential bars in Cuba pre-Castro. It is credited with creating countless, now considered canon, Caribbean cocktails and having one of the most significant impacts on Caribbean-style cocktails. Bar La Florida referred to their Mojito as the Mojito Criollo. Like the Daiquiri from that book, this mojito uses lemons instead of lime but, also like the Daiquiri, every other recipe for the mojito I know of uses lime. I was born in the US, but my family is Cuban and every Cuban I know uses limes. Maybe this bar just had a thing with lemons. Who knows. So for the sake of consensus, I’m going to go with lime juice. Also, there is a Mojito Criollo #2 recipe in the book that uses lemon. So this adds a little variety.
My dad grows mint and limes in his backyard to make sure he is always ready to make a mojito at a moment’s notice. This is the go-to party cocktail for most Cubans I know.
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