Samui Wining & Dining
Mojito Magic

Is the mojito Samui’s most popular cocktail?


18There’s something about the taste of a mojito that conjures up images of sun, sand, sea and holidays. It seems that wherever you go on Samui, a bar, restaurant, hotel or resort will offer some form of this wonderful cocktail. But what is the mojito’s story? Let’s see what we can dig out…

      Firstly, it is spelled ‘mojito’ but pronounced ‘mo-hee-toe’ although many places have started spelling it with an ‘h’ as in ‘mohito’. It is one of the most famous rum-based highballs and is traditionally made with white rum, sugar (or sugar cane juice), lime juice, sparkling water and mint. First the sugar, the lime juice and the mint leaves are gently mashed to release the essential oils of the mint leaves. Next the rum is added and the whole mixture is stirred to combine the ingredients. Then the ice cubes are added and the glass is topped up with sparkling soda water. It is usually decorated with mint leaves and lime wedges. Simple and tasty, the combination of sweetness, citrus from the lime and freshness from the mint are all intended to complement the rum, and together they made a very popular summer drink all over the world.

      The mojito was born in Cuba, although where exactly is a bit hazy. There is one story that traces it back to a similar 19th century drink named after Sir Francis Drake. Apparently after a successful raid, his ships sailed towards Havana with an epidemic of dysentery and scurvy on board. After hearing that a local South American Indian tribe had remedies for various illnesses, a small party went ashore searching for a cure for those on-board. What they came back with, was a medicine made from some sort of crude form of rum made from sugar cane with lime, sugarcane syrup and mint added (which all happened to be growing locally). Little did they realise the lime alone would have cured the scurvy, but nonetheless, the drink became popular, and ‘El Draque’ was born. Was this the very first mojito?

      There are many theories behind the origin of the name mojito. Mojadito is Spanish for ‘a little wet’, mojado is Spanish for ‘wet’, mojo was the name of a Cuban seasoning made from lime, and the African word mojo, means ‘to place a little spell’. If you’ve ever drunk more than three mojitos, you might believe this last version!

      The mojito was apparently one of author Ernest Hemingway’s favourite drinks. He made Havana bar ‘La Bodeguita del Medio’ famous, as he regularly drank his mojitos there. The phrase “My mojito in La Bodeguita, my daiquiri in El Floridita,” can still be read today on the wall in his handwriting.

      So if this drink has influenced people such as Ernest Hemingway, how has it influenced people on Samui? You can get mojitos almost anywhere on the island but we sampled a few rather interesting versions.

       The W Hotel’s Woobar has a whole evening dedicated to mojitos. Thursday nights are called ‘Mo-Hee-Toe Madness’ and you can drink as many as you want for just 999 baht. They have a whole array of flavours such as passion fruit; coconut and ginger, even a delicious lychee flavour. I bet you never thought you could work towards your daily fruit intake with a mojito? If you’re feeling really adventurous, they make one with golden rum, honey and Tabasco. These mojitos are best enjoyed sitting in the W’s unique lotus-shaped sunken seats while appreciating the gorgeous views across the bay to Koh Pha-Ngan.

         If you prefer to sit on the beach on a beanbag with your mojito, then head to La Cabanon in Fisherman’s Village. Listening to live music, you can enjoy your mojito served in a tall glass complete with orchid decoration, and relax into your beanbag and listen to the waves quietly lapping the shore.

         Of course, there are other ways to enjoy your mojitos and the Walking Street markets are another option. Cheap and quick, your mojito will be served in a plastic cup by a smiling, enthusiastic cocktail maker/shaker. You can continue to browse the stands and, if you have a good sense of balance, you can even enjoy some of the food on offer while walking around.

         There are many different versions of the mojito. A Mexican mojito uses tequila instead of rum and a dirty mojito uses spiced rum and brown sugar instead of white rum and white sugar.

         If you’re a fan of gin and tonic, enjoy an English mojito made with gin instead of rum, and if you’ve recently come into some money, choose a mojito royal made with champagne instead of soda water.

         A morelli mojito is made with Red Bull instead of soda water - drink with caution. A mojitaly uses fernet branca instead of rum, and mapo (a hybrid citrus fruit that was made by crossing a grapefruit with a mandarin) instead of lime. A Greek mojito uses Metaxa, a Greek spirit, instead of rum, and a sojito uses Korean soju (similar to vodka) instead of white rum.

         But we’ve left one very important version out. Just because you don’t drink alcohol or are under the legal drinking age doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a mojito. A mojito without alcohol is called a virgin mojito or a nojito. You can use ginger ale instead of soda to make up for the sugar lost by not using alcohol, or you can use half lemonade, half fruit juice instead of alcohol and top up with soda water. Still a very refreshing drink, but with no regrets the next morning.


Colleen Setchell


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