Bacardi: The Original Mojito Since 1862?

From The Intoxicologist is in:

“BACARDI®, the world’s number-one selling rum, today announced the launch of a new multi-media advertising and marketing campaign that emphasizes the brand’s 147-year history and rum making expertise. Featuring an all-new BACARDI Mojito television spot entiled “Eras,” the campaign seeks to convey the message that the best Mojitos are made with BACARDI, the innovative rum brand first used to make this legendary cocktail.”

Take a look:

Permit me to nerd out for a moment.

1. Ok, I really dig the song.
2.  While they do a great job capturing the general ambiance for most decades, the costumes on the Victorian women suck.  Keep in mind the Victorian era spans about 60 years.    The costumes in that “era,” while individually beautiful, are some sort of amalgamation of the 1820s, the 1870s and the 1890s, and definitely NOT 1862.  Except for maybe the Col. Sanders looking dude. And who has ever dressed like that tart that gives him the eye at the end? (history nerds: are they doing the Virginia reel?)(update: confirmed. they are doing the Reel.)
3.  “Since 1862, the best mojitos have always been made the same way.”  Mojitos…in 1862?  When I saw this commercial for the first time during the Daily Show last night, I was hard pressed to believe mojitos had been around since 1862.  Not only have I never come across a mojito recipe, they aren’t similar to anything else imbibed at that time.  Except, perhaps, their distant cousin, the mint julep.
I first checked with our old friend Jerry Thomas (who’s book was coincidentally published in 1862.)  Not a mojito to be found.  I began to scour the internets.
From Wikipedia:

“Cuba is the birthplace of the mojito, although the exact origin of this classic cocktail is the subject of debate. One story traces the mojito to a similar 16th century drink, the “El Draque,” in honor of Sir Francis Drake. It was made initially with tafia/aguardiente, a primitive predecessor of rum, but as soon as Spanish rum became widely available to the British (ca. 1650) they changed it to rum.  Mint, lime and sugar were also helpful in hiding the harsh taste of this spirit. While this drink was not called a mojito at this time, it was still the original combination of these ingredients..

So while a combination of ingredients similar to the mojito existed, in the 19th c. it was being drunk by the Cuban working class.  Definitely not Victorian tarts in spangly dresses.

I’ve also read that  “The earliest “mojito” recipes…found are from 1931 and 1936 editions of a Sloppy Joe’s Bar Manual.”  Sloppy Joe’s was a famous bar in Cuba, where Hemingway apparently popularized the drink.

Bacardi was founded in Cuba, and it was known for refining what was a previously unrefined drink.  Rum was a dark pungent spirit; Bacardi classed it up by running it through a charcoal filter, creating a much lighter liqour appropriate for swanky bars.

And perhaps that’s what happened to the Mojito; it transformed from the rugged El Draque, to the gentile Mojito with the creation of Bacardi Rum.

Read up for yourself, and weigh in:

The History of Bacardi

The History of the Mojito

The History of the Cuban Mojito


Other Rum drinks from the 1860s:

Rum Punch

Rum Flip

Hot Spiced Rum


P.S–Nothing personal against mojitos.  They’re delicious.

2 Responses to “Bacardi: The Original Mojito Since 1862?”


  • Thank you for the research! I’m posting something this week after some confusing marketing material I found in puerto rico. I’m digging into this history — I find it fascinating! Check out the post at http://www.eatdrinkandbeskinny.com!

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