No one really knows why limes and BACARDÍ rum are the most sublime marriage of flavors in the world of spirits. Not only do they produce remarkable cocktails, but bartenders have been mixing lime juice and BACARDÍ rum for well over 100 years.
The Mojito’s roots may date back as far as the 1500s, when a bad case of scurvy led Sir Francis Drake’s ships to dock at Havana and bring back the ingredients for the local Indians’ remedies: aguardiente, lime, sugarcane, and mint. The drink became known as “El Draque” among the sailors. African slaves working in Cuban sugar cane fields may have invented some form of the drink, although they left out a critical ingredient: lime juice.
Today, the mojito is a highball comprised of BACARDÍ rum, sugar, lime juice from four lime wedges, sparkling water, and mint. Twelve fresh mint leaves are gently bruised to release essential oils and then dropped into the glass. BACARDÍ rum, soda water, and crushed ice are gently stirred, and the drink is garnished with a sprig of mint.
Mojito may have originated from the Spanish word mojar, which means “to wet,” or from “mojo,” a Cuban seasoning made from lime. “Mojo,” in the dialect of African slaves in Cuba, means to cast a spell. In truth, this take on lime and BACARDÍ is both spellbinding and thirst-quenching.
The drink became famous in the 1930s in a Havana bar, La Bodequita del Medio, which still considers itself the home of the Mojito. According to a 2014 Mixed Drinks Report by CGA Strategy, the Mojito is the most popular cocktail in Britain.
Around the turn of the 19th century, the official marriage of lime and BACARDÍ occurred. American mining engineer Jennings Stockton Cox invented the daiquiri in 1898. According to one story, Cox was expecting important guests and found himself without gin, a staple of entertaining with spirits at the time. Necessity being the mother of invention, he mixed the limes he had on hand with rum and sugar and called it a “Daiquiri” after a Cuban town that was home to the mines. Within just a few years, friends of Cox introduced the daiquiri to high profile clubs in Washington D.C. and New York City, and the drink shot up in popularity.
Famed bartender Constantino Ribalaigua of El Floridita bar in Havana got his hands on the recipe and invented his own versions of the daiquiri. The bar was frequented by intellectuals, celebrities, artists, and authors, and the daiquiri became a household name. The famous La Floridita Bar still operates in Havana, with the words “la cuna del daiquiri” (the cradle of the daiquiri) inscribed in gold letters on the dark red bar.
Since BACARDÍ was the signature ingredient in the drink, many asked for it by another name during Prohibition: the “BACARDÍ Cocktail.” After Prohibition ended in the United States, BACARDÍ Cocktails were sometimes served without BACARDÍ rum, since domestic rum was cheaper. Bacardi brought a suit against a Manhattan hotel to protect its brand. The New York Supreme Court ruled that bartenders could not make BACARDÍ cocktails with any rum but BACARDÍ.
The Cuba Libre
Some may quibble that the Cuba Libre was invented before the daiquiri. This is quite possible. Dates and origins become muddled over time, and 1898 has been floated as the year of the Cuba Libre. Others have cast doubt on this timeline, as Coca-Cola first landed on the tropical shores of Cuba in 1900.
The birth of a new lime and BACARDÍ combination took place this time against the backdrop of the Cuban War for Independence. American soldiers still stationed in Havana were enjoying a drink in a local watering hole and observed one of their commanding officers drinking his favorite cocktail, BACARDÍ rum with Coca-Cola and the juice of a lime. Intrigued, all the soldiers ordered the drink and raised their glasses to “Cuba Libre,” (free Cuba). The name stuck, and the lime and BACARDÍ rum cocktail became a tribute to a liberated Cuba.
The Cuba Libre is also known as “Rum and Coca-Cola,” which was the title of an Andrews Sisters song in 1945. The song helped to popularize the drink in the United States.
Many more lime and BACARDÍ blends have been created over the years, including the Añejo Highball, which features curacao and lime. The Old Cuban, invented by a New York City bartender Audrey Saunders, includes fresh lime juice with BACARDÍ 8 Años and champagne. The list goes on: the Tormenta Negra and Kuala Lumpur’s Jungle Bird — all capitalize exquisitely on the enduring union of the lime and BACARDÍ rum.