Let’s spill the beans to know the virgin spin to the mojito
We all are pretty familiar with the virgin mojito. It has been a lifesaving beverage for many teetotallers. This humble drink lets them socialise, minus the consumption of alcohol. I belong to that clan. A realisation dawned upon me last Saturday evening. While sipping it during a bash, I wondered what probably earned it the tag, 'virgin'. Does it create an equal rush of curiosity? Then hang on; let's unearth its history.
Genesis of mojito
Usually, white rum, sugar syrup, lime juice, fizzy water, spearmint, and soda are the main ingredients of a mojito. Given the amount of mixer, it is a long cocktail with relatively modest alcohol content. It is one of the easiest drinks to make. However, there is considerable debate over who invented it.
According to a legend, a friend of the English piratical Sir Francis Drake created the mojito in Havana in the 1500s. The story narrates that his crew had scurvy and dysentery. Apparently, the native people of that place had the cure for both diseases. Men went in quest of assistance and returned with aguardiente, mint leaves, lime juice, and sugar cane juice. Mixing these ingredients, a concoction was quickly made and given to the sick crew. Soon after, a beverage called "El Draque," with similar ingredients gained popularity in Cuba.
There is another theory which gives credit to African slaves working in the fields of Cuba for inventing mojito. The tales say that they named their aguardiente potion mojito, deriving it from the word mojo - meaning to cast a spell.
Why call it a virgin?
Refreshing virgin mojito, Image Credit: Unsplash
In simplest terms, a virgin drink is a beverage that does not contain any alcohol. Thus, a mojito without alcohol is dubbed "Virgin Mojito" or Nojito. The word virgin is associated with the annals of mocktails or the drinks that replace alcohol with a flavoured mixer like ginger ale, ginger beer, or tonic water. Often, mocktails are referred to as virgin quenchers.
Several sources suggest that the moniker has roots in the prohibition era. The Bloody Mary, a cocktail made with vodka and tomato juice, gained popularity about this period. However, people were restricted from going out and ordering a Bloody Mary under Prohibition. Instead, they would call for a Virgin Mary, which was simply tomato juice. This version was rather an ironic method to confirm that the person wasn't ordering alcohol. Additionally, it had overtly religious undertones too.
Beyond virgin mojito
Virgin tag isn't restricted to a mojito. There are several mocktails which have the same title. Virgin Mary is a substitute for Bloody Mary, and it's a prevalent mocktail choice. Virgin Daiquiri is prepared by blending ice, sugar, lime juice and fruit, usually strawberries. Likewise, Virgin Bellini is made by combining peach nectar or extracts with sparkling apple cider.
These are a few well-liked choices that most bar menus include on the list. Meanwhile, you may substitute fruit juice or tonic water for the alcoholic component of almost any cocktail to create a virgin drink of your own.