The Legend of El Draque, Precursor to the Mojito and the World’s First Cocktail
Sir Francis Drake is a name most famous around the Caribbean in a great many ways, the bulk of them tied to his exploits as a privateer (or pirate, depending on your point of view), British naval officer, and slave-trader during the latter half of the 1500s.
Lesser-known, though, are his achievements in mixology…
This legend begins in 1586 somewhere near Havana. Like usual, Drake was in command of a fleet of British ships laden with plundered Spanish riches. Only problem was his crew had fallen ill and were too sick to sail away to safety.
To remedy the situation (and his men), Drake concocted an all-new elixir combining readily available medicines used by the local Taino and Ciboney Indians.
Mint to calm the stomach, lime to treat scurvy, and chuchuhuasi tree bark soaked in rum, which carries all sorts of healing and stamina-boosting benefits. Drake even added a little sugar to enhance the taste.
- 1 lime
- 2 oz white rum
- 6 mint leaves
- 2 tsp sugar
Needless to say, the drink worked its magic, leaving Drake and his crew free to continue their plundering of Spanish ports and seafaring vessels.
Widely accepted as the world’s very first cocktail (predating the mojito, ti’ punch, and daiquiri), the drink became known as El Draque, Drake’s nickname among the Spanish. If you’re a fan of the classic mojito, then the ingredients should sound more than a little familiar to you.
Everything’s included save for the sparkling water, creating a bolder, stronger taste experience that leans a bit more toward the French Ti’ Punch than you might expect a British drink with a Spanish name to achieve.
Either way, it’s excellent, and, if history serves, can cure what ails you!
To make one, slice your lime up into cubes and muddle it together with your mint and sugar in a glass just as you would in preparing a mojito. Next, add rum. Havana Club 3 would be my first choice here, but this dry white Dominican rum would likely work well too.
Don’t have any chuchuhuasi tree bark handy? Neither do I, so I’m adding a splash of Hard Wine for a similar effect, though different flavor.
Also, in keeping with other limitations I assume Drake was faced with, I’m not adding any ice, keeping the flavor sweet and potent, just as the old pirate/privateer intended…