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When I was 22, I watched my friend cut a hole in a watermelon and stick an entire bottle’s worth of Absolut into it, which was the most innovative thing that my young drunk eyes had ever seen. Now that I have since left my college town and had drinks that weren’t put together on a ping pong table in my friend’s mom’s basement, my tastes have changed slightly.
Though I’ll never forget my stick-a-bottle-of-vodka-into-a-watermelon roots, I have been able to find new and innovative ways to mix fruit and booze.
Enter the watermelon mojito. The fruity hero of summer. The refreshing thirst-quencher. The cause of my being banned from a Chili’s in Ocean City, MD. The watermelon mojito is a delicious temptress that, when you take the first sip, will make you regret ever drinking anything else. I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like these, and I hope I never do, because I don’t know what I would do to that person.
My point is, the watermelon mojito is truly the drink of the summer, and I’m trying to spread the word. So let’s dive into the history, and then go deeper into how to make this amazing drink. Here we go!
The history of the mojito is shrouded in as much mystery as my blacked-out nights drinking them at a Chili’s in Ocean City, MD. However, much like these nights, I’ve been able to piece together a coherent timeline with thorough research and documentation.
The starting point of mojitos is disputed, but it is widely believed to have gotten its start at La Bodeguita del medio, a restaurant/bar in Havana, Cuba.
Another widely believed claim is that the drink was invented by African slaves working in Cuban sugar cane fields and was, at its foundation, just a basic sugar cane alcohol.
However, there is another story that goes even further back.
This story stars Sir Francis Drake, an English explorer who came to Havana to do what English colonizers of the time period do best - take things (in this case, gold). His attempted invasion was unsuccessful, but it did result in a great discovery of a concoction from a few local South American Indians.
Sir Francis Duke’s crew was suffering from a lot of old and unpleasant diseases like scurvy and dysentery, and they needed help. It was widely known that some local South American Indians had innovative medicines, so the crew went to the shore to get whatever they could.
They came back with a cure: mint leaves, limes, and sugar cane juices to be muddled into a tonic that would cure their ailments. Lime juice was clearly what helped them, but the other ingredients made the drink a little more kick-ass. A little frustrating that the South American Indian’s names didn’t make the cut in the various tellings of this story that I could find, but that’s colonial history for you I guess.
This drink was made with similar ingredients and was SUPER popular - and it was supposedly named after Sir Francis Drake himself! Eventually, it was given another name and has evolved into what we now know as the mojito.
Of course, because humans are the champions of innovation, we now have several different kinds of mojito, including the top-notch watermelon mojito we have all come to know and love.
Though they sound quite similar, margaritas and mojitos are anything but. A Margarita is a cocktail made up of tequila, orange liqueur, fresh lime juice, and agave. They’re famous for usually having salt or sugar on the rim to compliment the tequila. Margaritas are typically served blended or shaken with ice, or neat. Mojitos, however, are always on the rocks.
Basic mojitos are made with rum, lemon or lime juice, mint, sugar, and a dash of club soda or ginger ale if you’re feeling frisky. It’s almost always served on the rocks, to keep it chilled and ultra refreshing.
Watermelon mojitos are slightly different, but not by much. You’ll want white rum instead of regular, and you’ll definitely want to use ginger ale instead of club soda. Oh, also watermelon. Duh.
If you skipped to this part, I don’t blame you.
My introduction is mostly a manifesto on how to get banned from Chili’s, so you’re not missing out. You’re looking for a watermelon mojito recipe, and I’m going to deliver.
Once you have all your ingredients, you’re going to need a muddler. If you don’t have one, I highly recommend this bartending kit which comes with one, and also looks very cool and professional. Anyway, muddle the watermelon chunks with the juice of the limes and sugar in a glass. Stir in the mint leaves, then add 2 ounces white rum and ice to each glass. Or more, if you want. It’s a free country.
Top each of your mojitos with ginger ale and garnish with more mint for some serious zazz.
Of course! It will change the flavor, but only slightly. Using vodka in a mojito will change the name to ‘vodka mojito’, which makes sense. You can also use vodka in a watermelon mojito, but for a truly authentic experience, I still suggest using white rum.
Watermelon mojitos are so good, the environment you drink it in almost doesn’t matter. But if you’re lost on the best way to serve this clever concoction, I am the queen of cocktail ambiance, and I am here to help.
As I’ve mentioned, this is the drink of summer. It works best outside in the sweaty heat of July, or perhaps by a beach or pool. If you don’t have access to that, no sweat! You can still give off summer vibes. Put some lights up on your porch and get some music going to get the mood right. I grew up in the landlocked midwestern state of Indiana, so my version of coastal vibes was putting a plastic kiddie pool filled with water on my porch and sitting in it.
Some might say that’s trashy, but to them I say this: I cooled off in that hot Indiana sun and I kept the party vibes going, so who’s the real clown here?
Mojitos should always be paired with something spicy and full of delicious seasoning. Salsa, tacos, shrimp ceviche, and carnitas always pair well with a mojito, regardless of what fruit you use. If you want to keep with the history, try serving some Cuban braised pork. Honestly, serving any Mexican or Cuban food with a watermelon mojito is a sure fire way to secure your spot as the king or queen of themed dinner parties.
That’s all I got for you. Thanks for sticking with me on this wild watermelon mojito journey. I hope this article helped you, and if it didn’t I hope it gave you a glimpse into how this beautiful beverage has changed my life for the better. Catch you on the flip side!
Contributing Writer: Aurora Detor