Everyone should have the classic mojito recipe in their back pocket for a refreshing, summer cocktail that’s easy to love. Rum, lime juice and mint are a picture perfect pairing.
I’ll never forget the first time I tried a classic mojito.
It was the first cocktail I ever tried.
It was at a family friend’s wedding reception, and the bartenders were passing them out to every guest. Don’t mind if I do!
The event was outdoors, and it was hot. The mojito, with its minty fresh and sweetly sour notes, was a welcome relief that day.
I might have had a few! And that’s how it earned an extra special spot charred into my memory.
My next experience with the mojito was when I studied abroad in Prague in college.
The bars always seemed to have mojitos on special, and sometimes the bartenders used real cane sugar instead of simple syrup, so a few sips had little crispy bits of sugar. I loved this aspect of the Prague mojitos!
Not surprisingly, the mojito was one of the first cocktails I learned how to make when I got interested in mixing drinks at home.
What is a mojito?
The mojito is a classic cocktail featuring rum, sugar, lime juice, fresh mint leaves and a splash of soda. The result is a refreshing drink that’s equal parts sweet, sour and herbal.
History of the mojito
The mojito’s roots are undoubtedly in Cuba, but exactly how those roots were formed is a mystery — much like many classic drinks.
One tale suggests the mojito was originally named “El Draque,” for Sir Francis Drake, in the 16th century. It was made with a crude version of rum called “aguardiente,” and with the introduction of rum distillation, evolved into the mojito.
Another likely possibility is that the drink was invented by Africans working in Cuba, giving it the name “mojito” from the word “mojo,” meaning “a magic charm.”
Yet another theory is that the bartenders at a Havana bar, La Bodeguita del Medio, invented it. Ernest Hemingway was known to catch a drink there after a long day of writing, and the mojito was one of his favorites.
If you ever make it to Cuba, you can try one at the same bar — it’s still there!
How to make a mojito
The mojito is a fairly simple cocktail to make, promise. Here’s what goes in a mojito:
Start out with fresh mint. I grow mine in my herb garden, but you can find it in the produce section of most grocery stores.
Fresh mint often comes in little, clear, plastic boxes with just a few sprigs, but if you want to make a lot of mojitos, see if your store carries it in a big bundle.
Next you will need simple syrup. My recipe is done in under 10 minutes and has just two ingredients.
You can make a mint simple syrup if you want a stronger flavor — just add 1-2 sprigs of mint after the boil and let it steep as it cools. Then remove the leaves before storing.
You can also use sugar, but it will take longer to dissolve and more elbow grease as you muddle.
Place a sprig of mint leaves into a glass with your simple syrup, then muddle them together with a muddler.
No muddler? No problem. You can hack your cocktail with the blunt end of a wooden spoon, or even a spoon. You just want to press hard enough to release the essential oils from the leaves.
Lime juice should be fresh, ideally. I use a citrus squeezer to juice my limes.
Don’t want to juice a ton of limes? See if your grocery store sells pre-squeezed, fresh lime juice. It’s okay to use concentrate, but you can taste the difference.
You can also substitute limeade, lemonade or even lemon juice in a pinch! (If using one of the -ades, be sure to cut down on the sweetener.)
A few bubbles help your drink to have a lighter body and more volume. You don’t need a ton.
This part can be optional, but I find it gives the mojito the balance it needs to become your new favorite drink.
Best rum for mojitos
For the classic mojito recipe, you will want to use a light rum, also known as white rum or silver rum.
This kind of rum is light and crisp, and goes well with fruit flavors, which makes it perfect for the mojito and the daiquiri.
You can also use gold rum, AKA oro or ambre, which is light rum aged in oak barrels. Since it has a golden color it will alter the appearance of mojitos, so I tend to recommend light rum but either way it will taste great!
My favorite brands are Bacardi, Cruzan and Plantation, but, as always, use the best rum you can afford. Check out this rum guide if you want more ideas!
Mojitos are fun to make your own because you can mix in other fruits. This classic mojito recipe is a great place to start.
I’d love to know what you think! Leave a comment below or come say hi on Instagram!
Cheers to you as you enjoy your mojitos this summer! // susannah
- 8-10 mint leaves
- 1 ounce simple syrup
- 1 ounce fresh lime juice (approx. 1 lime)
- 2 ounces white rum
- club soda
- lime wedge, for garnish
- mint sprig, for garnish
- In a collins or highball glass, add the mint leaves and simple syrup. Muddle together to release the oils of the mint leaves.
- Top with ice, filling the glass all the way.
- Add the lime juice and rum. Top with club soda.
- Garnish with a straw, lime wedge and a mint sprig.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 186Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 38mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 8gSugar: 1gProtein: 4g