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El Draque

Sir Francis Drake – Sea dog, privateer (some might say ‘pirate’), vice admiral of Queen Elizabeth’s Royal Navy, the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe. Drake had a love-hate relationship with the Spanish – he loved to plunder Spanish ships, and the Spanish hated him for it.

Our story begins in the year 1586, somewhere off the coast of what is now Havana, Cuba. Drake has been busy raiding Spanish ships and settlements in the Caribbean, and is ready to sail for merry old England with a shipload of plundered booty. There’s just one problem. His crew is deathly ill from scurvy and dysentery. Drake has some experience with the local Taino and Ciboney native tribes, and realized they had developed medicines to treat such ailments.

Drake combined lime juice (to treat scurvy) with mint (to calm the stomach), then mixed in Chuchuhausi tree bark (a native medicine commonly used to treat arthritis pain) soaked in aguardiente (the precursor of rum). Drake added in juice from the local sugar cane plant to make the concoction a bit more palatable, and gave it to his sailors to drink. According to legend, Drake’s men miraculously recovered and soon resumed their privateering activities.

The health-restoring drink was named “El Draque” in honor of its creator. Today’s variation is known by another name – the Mojito.
 

Mike Parker

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