Mojito cocktail

Classic Mojito

By Timo Torner / Last updated on March 13, 2022 
The Mojito is a perfect summer cocktail and easily one of my favorites for that time of the year. It's a light and refreshing drink with the right balance of fresh, sour, and sweet.

The Mojito is one of the most famous Rum cocktails today. Its recipe is quite old and known to people in every corner of the world. And while the original recipe is pretty simple, most recipes you can find online are just a poor take on it.

They use just a few leaves of mint, sugar syrup instead of granulated brown sugar and simply don't give the Mojito the love it deserves. But this Cuban cocktail needs to be treated with care. Read on to learn more about its history and how you can make the best Mojito you ever had.

History of the Mojito cocktail

As I said, the recipe for the Mojito cocktail is old, very, very old, in fact. And even though the exact time of its invention is unknown, we do know for sure that it's coming from Cuba. Most likely from the capital Havana.

The origins of the Mojito are going back to the 1500s. Back then, famous British explorer Sir Francis Drake visited Havana. Or I better say he got stranded there because almost his complete crew was sick due to one issue or another. So with plenty of plunder from the Spanish, they had to stop in Havana, Cuba.

And as Drake had to find something to heal his crew members, he used all kinds of local medicine to create a drink that perhaps could help all of them recover. He used mint to calm the stomach, lime juice to cure scurvy, and an Aguardiente infusion of Chuchuhuasi tree bark. Aguardiente was an early form of Rum, frequently used in Latin America at that time. And the Chuchuhuasi bark is still a usual medicine for indigenous tribes in Latin America as it has various healing and health properties.

To make the potion more drinkable, Drake also added a bit of sugar to the mix. The final result contained the following amounts:

"2oz Aguardiente
six mint leaves
Juice of 1 lime
2 tsp sugar"

To honor its inventor, the drink was named using his Spanish nickname "El Draque". And "El Draque" was not only very successful in getting the crew members healthy again. His creation also is acknowledged as the first-ever cocktail in the history of mixology. Let that sink in.

Over time Rum replaced Aguardiente, and Chuchuhuasi bark did no longer get used. And it's unclear when and why the name changed from "El Draque" to "Mojito". But in a cocktail book from the 1930s, it was first mentioned as a Mojito in written form. It was published by one of the most famous bars in Havana back at that time: the Sloppy Joe's Bar.

The ingredients of a great Mojito

For making a fantastic Mojito, it is essential to use quality ingredients. So here's what you need to create the perfect Mojito cocktail.

  • White Rum: While any white Rum will work, I like to stick to Cuban Rum in a Mojito - simply to pay respect to its origins. Bacardi Silver Rum works well, but my preferred choice usually is Havana 3 years Rum.
  • Fresh mint: Mint is the secret star of this cocktail. Some leaves are muddled, some for decoration. Make sure to use plenty because you want to get a kick of fresh mint with every sip of your Mojito.
  • Fresh lime juice: Don't use the bottled version. Squeeze some fresh limes. While it is no longer needed to prevent scurvy, the lime juice brings that beautiful fresh and tart bit to your drink.
  • Sugar: Now one of the most crucial parts. Don't use regular white or brown sugar, don't use superfine sugar, and please also don't use simple syrup when you want to mix up a classic Mojito. Stick to some proper cane sugar like it's common in Cuba.
  • Club soda or sparkling water: This is to add some freshness and carbonation to your drink. The most important thing is to use highly carbonated water that's properly chilled. Otherwise, it will instantly melt your ice when topping up your Mojito with it.

Best mint for making Mojitos

As I already mentioned, mint is the secret star of every Mojito. And by using the wrong mint, you won't get the perfect Mojito. So choosing the right mint to go with this cocktail is vital.

And while there are so many different versions of mint, there are only two that make for the best results. The first more common option is Spearmint. Spearmint has a pretty intense mint flavor to it, but it still tastes less like toothpaste and candy canes when compared to peppermint. -Pineapple Spearmint works even better.

But your best option is to get Mojito mint. That seems like an obvious choice, but it often gets disregarded - not least because it is not always available. And the mint does have its name for a reason. Mojito mint is a lot milder in flavor and also has hints of citrus. It's coming from Cuba and is commonly used in Cuban cocktails as well. For quite a long time, it was impossible to get Mojito Mint outside of Cuba. But that changed more than ten years ago. Since then you can find it occasionally. If you can get your hands on it, grab one. It's by far the best option to use in a Mojito.

Sugar or Simple Syrup

I said it before. I'm not a fan at all of using simple syrup in a Mojito cocktail. For almost every other cocktail, I think it is okay to substitute sugar with syrup. But not here.

And I'm also quite picky in regards to which sugar to use. That means no regular white or brown sugar, if possible. And definitely not superfine or powder sugar, as you can read in some recipes. The most straightforward option is granulated cane sugar. That, by the way, is the original ingredient to many Latin American Rum cocktails.

And if you want to get something special, try Demerara or Turbinado. Those two are a bit rawer and less refined, and add plenty of flavor to your Mojito cocktail.

Is Mojito very alcoholic?

No, Mojito is not super alcoholic. With an average of 10 - 15 % ABV (Alcohol By Volume), it's actually comparable to the strength of a wine.

But be aware that sugar, mint, and lime juice will take away the bite of alcohol. Often to an extent, you don't realize that you're drinking alcohol at all. So always keep in mind that you're not drinking mint & lime soda here 😉

How to make a classic Mojito

So let's get to the recipe. I already discussed all of the ingredients above. The only things you now need are ice, a cocktail shaker, and a juicer. And make sure to press and roll the limes before juicing them. That will make your life a lot easier.

Mojito cocktail

Mojito

A classic Cuban rum cocktail with fresh mint, lime juice, and rum.
Prep Time: 4 minutes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: cuban
Keyword: Rum Cocktail
Servings: 1
Calories: 257kcal
Cost: $2.50

Ingredients

  • 2 oz White Rum I like Havana Rum 3 years
  • 1 oz Lime juice
  • 2 tbsp Cane sugar
  • 10-15 Mojito mint leaves plus additional for garnish
  • 2-4 oz Chilled club soda
  • 1 Sprig Mojito Mint for garnish

Instructions

  • Add Mojito mint, lime juice, and cane sugar into a cocktail shaker. Gently muddle the ingredients to release the flavor of the mint. Be careful not to blend the mint leaves into tiny pieces. They should more or less stay intact.
  • Make sure the sugar almost completely dissolves before you add the Rum and plenty of ice. Shake the cocktail for 10-15 seconds.
  • Fill a Highball glass with ice cubes or crushed ice. Also, add additional mint leaves and make sure you "slapped" them before. That will release their beautiful aroma.
  • Strain your cocktail into the glasses and fill it up with chilled club soda.
  • Slap the mint sprig and use it to decorate the Mojito.

Nutrition

Serving: 7.25g | Calories: 257kcal | Carbohydrates: 107.6g | Protein: 0.5g | Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 95mg | Potassium: 217mg | Sugar: 101.3g | Vitamin C: 30mg | Calcium: 84mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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