A popular summertime cocktail favorite for generations, the humble Mojito has its origins in Cuba. The traditional drink is comprised of only five ingredients, yet these ingredients combine to tantalize the tastebuds, offering sweetness, sour notes, and a hint of spice to enliven any warm-weather gathering. Mojitos are easy to make, and the basic recipe can be augmented with different ingredients to give the time-honored cocktail a flavorful spin on the classic. Here are some of our favorite mojito recipes, from traditional to new varieties destined to become staples well into the future.
The Key to a Great Mojito: Mint (or other herbs)
The traditional mojito uses sprigs of mint to give it a fresh, spicy flavor. Newer varieties of the classic cocktail may substitute other herbs, including basil or rosemary. No matter which herb is chosen to prepare mojitos, the key to a flavorful drink is in the handling of those critical flavor elements. Professional bartenders know that many herbs, including mint, can be bitter if shredded or pulverized; to avoid these unpleasant flavor notes, the key is “muddling” or “spanking”; gently crushing the leaves with a wooden instrument (or a clap of the hands) to release the desired flavors. Herbs – and any fruits in the drink recipe — should only be squeezed firmly enough to release their essential oils, but lightly enough not to pulverize or release any bitterness from the center of the plant.
The Traditional Mojito
As mentioned in the introduction, the classic Cuban mojito contains only five ingredients: white rum, sugar, lime juice, fresh mint, and club soda or seltzer. It may sound simple, and it is easy to prepare, but the combination produces a riot of satisfying flavors in the mouth.
- 2 oz. white rum
- ½ oz. fresh lime juice
- 1 teaspoon superfine white sugar
- 3 mint leaves
- Club soda or seltzer
In a Collins glass or narrow highball glass, combine the lime juice, the sugar, and the mint leaves. Gently muddle the mint with a wooden muddler or the back of a wooden spoon. Fill the glass with ice, then pour in the rum. Top off with club soda and serve.
The Dark Rum Mojito
Want to try something a little more mysterious and spicy? Prepare a classic mojito with dark rum instead of a white spirit. Dark rum pairs nicely with savory summer meal flavors, such as fish tacos or Cuban ropa vieja (stewed beef and vegetables). Substitute the same amount of dark rum as in the recipe above, and also substitute two teaspoons of raw turbinado sugar for the superfine white sugar in the above recipe. Prepare the cocktail the same way, and enjoy this spicy variation!
Now that we have the classics and their variations out of the way, it’s time to delve deeply into fresh summertime flavors. This is a great cocktail choice for sipping by the pool, and the fruity flavors add even more delectable sweetness to the finished drink. This recipe also uses basil instead of the traditional mint for a unique spin on the classic.
- White or silver rum
- White peach simple syrup
- 2/3 cup fresh blueberries
- 1 dozen fresh basil leaves, stems removed
- ½ white peach, finely diced
- Club soda
To prepare the white peach simple syrup, combine one diced white peach (pit removed), one cup of sugar, and one cup of water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved and the peaches are mashed, then simmer until the mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat and let cool. Strain, then store in the refrigerator until use.
In four Collins or narrow highball glasses, divide the blueberries and basil leaves. Add two tablespoons of the white peach simple syrup to each glass, then gently muddle the ingredients with a wooden spoon or muddler. Add ice, pour in 2-3 oz. of the rum, then top with club soda. Garnish each glass with a few chunks of the diced peach. Serve immediately.