The mojito is a drink that originated on sugar plantations in Cuba. Cane cutters working in the fields were provided by the plantation owner with barrels of guarapo, fresh sugarcane juice. The workers often added a bunch of fresh mint, hierba buena, to the guarapo to flavor it, and on special occasions they spiked it with aguardiente, a rough form of rum. Over the years, the drink became fashionable and evolved.
The recipe that follows is an updated version of the original. It calls for guarapo, which is sold fresh in Miami and other Cuban enclaves in the United States and is also available in cans in many Latin American grocery stores. If you can’t find guarapo, combine 2tablespoons sugar and ¼cup water in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved and the syrup turns clear. Chill the syrup before using.