Need your best mojito recipe
May 2, 2011 8:37 AM   Subscribe

Please give me your best mojito recipe.

Summer is coming (in Boston, there's just a month or two left to wait!), and I'd like to master the mojito. Right now, my mojitos are, sadly, terrible.

With the risk of sounding like a J. Peterman catalog, the best mojitos I ever had were at the outdoor bar behind the National Gallery of Art in Sofia, Bulgaria. Sweet, sour, minty, moderately strong. There were bits of muddled mint floating in it, which I liked. I drank between 3-5 daily.

Please help me get back to mojito nirvana. To the extent you have them, I am looking for specific recommendations for every part of the drink:

Rum--specific labels? proofs? Or Cachaça?
ice--cubed? crushed? those giant cubes sometimes used for whisky?
varieties of mint (other thread recommended yerba buena)
limes--anything other than regular old limes?
Sugar--mint-infused simple syrup? (if so, what's your recipe?) raw cane?
Proportions--obviously, please be as precise as you can.
Techniques--do you muddle the mint and lime together? Mint alone? Mint and cane?

I am not looking for recommendations for your favorite ginger-strawberry mojito. Simple and classic. Hopefully strong.
posted by Admiral Haddock to Food & Drink (19 answers total) 55 users marked this as a favorite
I hate using simple syrup for mojitos, I really think it changes the flavor of the mojito. I use 1 1/2 tablespoons of regular sugar in the bottom of the glass with 1 1/2 ounces of lime juice (I use 1 to 2 limes depending on how juicy) and 6 to 8 mint leaves. Muddle the leaves and add the ice to fill the glass (I like crushed) and rum so there is only about 1 to 2 ounces of room left. Then add soda water to the top of the glass, should only be a couple of ounces and stir.

If I can find sugarcane, I will garnish with a stick of sugarcane.

Muddling the mint in the cup with the sugar releases the natural oils, which you don't get by making a simple syrup. I also think the simple syrup changes the flavor of the sugar. I like the flavor of the raw sugar.
posted by TheBones at 8:47 AM on May 2, 2011 [3 favorites]

I replace the simple syrup and soda water with Champagne. Once you have the proportions down it makes one impressive drink. (Yes, soda water is apart of the Mojito out here.) It's not the simplest recipe, but once you get it right... wow.
posted by MansRiot at 9:07 AM on May 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

My recipe: Muddle 1 Tbsp sugar, one lime (quartered) and 6 mint leaves in bottom of glass. Add 2 oz white rum (I am a cocktail snob in many respects but I just use Bacardi here) and stir. Add ice cubes, fill rest of glass with soda water, stir again. Garnish with spring of mint.
posted by dfan at 9:09 AM on May 2, 2011

I like this recipe but with half of the sugar and a tad more rum (1.5 oz, what is 1.25 oz?). Yum!
posted by teragram at 9:13 AM on May 2, 2011

I use a simple syrup, but I make it from demerara sugar. And sometimes throw in a splash of Lyle's Golden Syrup for extra caramel-sugary goodness. The result is tawny gold and delicious.

My recipe:
Fresh mint (mine is from the "mojito patch" in the yard). If you buy it at the store, keep it in on stems and in a vase of water... old mint tastes like nothing.

Muddle the mint (6-10 leaves) with the juice of one medium sized lime per serving.
Add syrup to the mixture to just about double the volume (if it tastes harsh, add more syrup).
Add rum to just about double the volume again. we drink a *lot* of mojitos here, so we just use Bacardi... by the handle... and keep it in the fridge.

if you are making a batch, fill the glasses with ice (we use highball glasses) and distribute your mixture evenly. If you are making a single-serving, add ice to the glass you're using and stir well to coat the ice with your mixture.

Either way, add soda partway to the top, give each glass a swirl with a straw to mix it a bit, add the rest of the soda, and then serve.
posted by janell at 9:21 AM on May 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh, sorry - I forgot to specify that my backyard mint is spearmint. I've never noticed much choice in lime variety here in Portland (other than key limes vs regular limes) -- regular limes for mojitos.

I use ice cubes - I kinda like the long curvy ice shape (from the freezer ice maker) better than true cubes. I don't like crushed ice in a mojito at all -- if you want it to be weaker for all-day drinking, use more soda and mint for the same amount of sugar/rum/lime.
posted by janell at 9:36 AM on May 2, 2011

My variation may stretch the definitions of mojito, but it's delicious.

First, you need to make some honeydew rum. Cut up a honeydew melon, put the pieces into a bottle or sealed jar with 750ml of white rum. Leave there for 7-10 days, then strain out.

Then, the mojito:
2 oz honeydew rum
3-4 basil leaves
1-2 bar spoons of sugar
3-4 oz club soda.

Muddle the sugar with the basil leaves, add rum and club soda, give it a stir! Delicious summertime goodness. I call it a Verano Verde.
posted by whitneyarner at 9:45 AM on May 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Um, I'm sleepy... I forgot the lime juice. 1 oz lime juice!
posted by whitneyarner at 9:46 AM on May 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

For any drink with limes in it, make sure to pick good ones. The difference between a good lime and a bad lime can destroy a cocktail (especially things like margaritas)

To pick a good cocktail lime, find one that is very smooth on the outside (the rougher outside means it will have a thicker skin and less juice), more circular than oval shaped, and a light-medium green color with a yellow spot on it. If it is all green, or a dark green, it will be very bitter.

Once you learn the difference, you will be able to grab good limes from the store every time, and it really does make a difference.

Also, make sure you use granular sugar and muddle it into the mint. You extract oils from the mint that way which you wouldn't otherwise get.

If you want it sweeter later on (once you have already added the rum), I like to use an agave syrup, but that's personal preference.

Where as you may like chunks of mint leaves floating in the drink, a lot of people don't, so when you are making the drink, make sure you have a strainer so that you can strain out the leaves when you pour it into glasses.
posted by markblasco at 9:54 AM on May 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Specifically: no simple syrup. Ever. For any reason.

Basil is also an abomination unto the mojito. Basil-based rum drinks can be tasty, but they are emphatically not mojitos.

I've never actually found a rum that doesn't go well in a mojito. They're all subtly different, but as long as you're not buying the cheap stuff that has that turpentine-y aftertaste, you probably won't fail from your choice of liquor.

The mint you use does matter. The best mojitos I've ever had were prefaced with something like "oh, hold on just a second, let me go pick some more spearmint out of the garden in back." To that end, I am growing mint this summer for this very purpose. I am also in Boston, so I will report back if this is an abject failure.
posted by Mayor West at 10:52 AM on May 2, 2011

I make my mojitos with ginger ale instead of club soda, it adds alot of flavor and spice. I also do not use sugar syrup, I prefer to muddle on the spot with the mint, sugar and fresh lime juice.

The kind of rum isn't much of a big deal to me really though a high quality rum can add a little extra punch to the finished product.

Fresh mint is also really nice as well as fresh limes.
posted by fenriq at 10:57 AM on May 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm with markblasco - put the sugar in the bottom of the glass, add the mint leaves, and crush around. The grains of the sugar tear at the leaf structure and make your muddling more effective.

Here is as I learned it from a guy I dated in grad school - which is not exactly how I make it now, but what I do now is boring compared to the original method.
So, two spoons of sugar cover the bottom of a ~8oz rocks glass. Add a sprig of mint (if you just washed it, be sure to dry it off), and have at it with the back of a spoon. Once the leaves are pretty torn up (to taste - you have a better idea of what the leaves in your dream mojito looked like than I do) then you add the liquids.

Don't juice the limes, just cut them into slices/wedges (one half per glass, if I remember right), and muddle them into the mint-sugar. The juice releases pretty quickly and the sugar starts to dissolve. Add a shot of rum (anything gold but not spiced) and stir to encourage the sugar to convert from grit into sweetness, but it doesn't have to dissolve all the way. Now fill the glass with ice, stir to distribute the lime and mint bits among the cubes. Add another shot of rum on top, swirl around, and sip.

At this point the glass should be around half full. It's very strong, but his theory was that it's for sipping at while sitting in the hot sun. If the ice doesn't melt, it's not genuinely mojito weather yet.

This version lasted until that guy and I broke up. Now I juice the limes and top up with seltzer like a girly American.
posted by aimedwander at 11:00 AM on May 2, 2011

I like Dale DeGroff's version:
...And you'll also see it overproduced with mint that's shredded and shaken throughout the drink, which I think makes it overly herbal and often bitter. In Cuba, the mojito is not even shaken--the mint is simply bruised in the bottom of the glass to release some flavor--and the drink is kept simple and easy, an adult limeade. That's my preference.

2 sprigs of tender, young mint
1 ounce of simple syrup
3/4 ounce of fresh-squeezed lime juice
1 1/2 ounces white rum
2 dashes of Angostura bitters, optional
1 1/2 ounces of club soda

In the bottom of a highball glass, bruise the leaves from 1 of the mint sprigs with the simple syrup and the lime juice. Add the rum and bitters, if using; top with no more than 1 1/2 ounces of club soda; and stir. Garnish with the second sprig of mint.

...The light Spanish style [of rum] perfected by Bacardi is better for drinks such as the mojito, where you want to keep the flavors simple and straightforward to produce a clean, limy, minty cocktail.
The tendency for many is to over-muddle which turns the mint bitter. Just chew on a mint leaf and you'll see why. Your mint should not resemble pulp. If you want a mintier drink, add more mint, and bruise gently. And like others have mentioned, the freshness of the mint is a large factor. I check the quality of the leaves and how fragrant it is; old mint is nowhere near as good-smelling as fresh mint. And don't forget the garnish!

I also echo the point that good limes matter. Room temperature limes will yield more juice than those straight from the fridge. We use a Mexican style juicer that also expresses the oils from the lime peel as it juices because it inverts the lime half.

I've tried versions of the mojito created using granulated sugar, confectioner's sugar, Demerara sugar, and simple syrup, but don't see a huge difference. You might, however. Just don't use Sugar in the Raw, which is fake Demerara sugar, made by dying large sugar grains brown. (If you swirl some around in a bowl with water, you'll see the dye wash off.)

The version with champagne may be better known as the Old Cuban and is also delicious:

6 mint leaves, plus the tip of a mint sprig for garnish
3/4 ounce (1 1/2 tablespoons) lime juice
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) simple syrup, see note
1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) amber rum
1 or 2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 ounces Champagne
1 lime slice.

1. Gently bruise the mint with lime juice in a shaker using a muddler or wooden spoon. Add syrup, rum, bitters and a big handful of ice, and shake until well chilled. Strain into a coupe or cocktail glass and add Champagne.

2. With a knife, slit the lime slice halfway through and pierce it with the mint sprig. Perch it on the rim of the glass.

I actually had an Old Cuban made with Don Q rum this past weekend, and it was excellent.
posted by kathryn at 1:57 PM on May 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

I would second using anything other than Bacardi. Don Q is a good one if you can find it, if not you want Appleton White which is also pretty great for mojitos.

Otherwise, I usually stick to the recipes: light rum, mint, lime, and for the sugar well...

I use guarapo if possible if not then I use brown cane sugar.

Otherwise follow the recipes, though I use soda water instead of champagne.
posted by lizarrd at 9:57 PM on May 2, 2011

Well, supposedly the best rum to use is real Cuban rum, i.e. Havana Club, and actually a lot of popular mix experts--Gary Regan, say--advocate using Bacardi Silver because it's supposedly the closest thing to that flavor while still being y'know legal in the States (I'm assuming that's where you are...apologies if not). A lot of people think you need to use a white rum at any cost, even if it's a lesser one over say a better but darker/gold one. I don't have a dog in that hunt (all my favorite rums are darker--Appleton, Angostura, Barbancourt 8-year, Cruzan 2-year, Gosling's, etc., so frankly I rarely make mojitos), just food for thought.

Definitely what others have already addressed about sugar over syrup--any time you're muddling to get oils out of herbs and/or citrus, grainy sugar is the way to go. Liquid sweeteners won't abrade the skin/leaves enough to release the good stuff. A proper muddler helps too, and I don't mean go out and spend a sick amount of money, just, make sure you're using something shaped right, broad at the bottom and long enough to really do the job right. Never try "muddling" with ice, wait to add the ice (probably obvious, but just in case).

A lot of people think ice size matters too. If you haven't tried making it with crushed ice instead of larger cubes yet, it might be worth comparing. And you're mixing long enough (no less than 30 seconds, probably more like at least 45 in my experience) too, right? Like juleps and so many classic simple summer drinks, stirring until super frosty is key.

If you want to get mega anal about it, some people swear by using good mineral water.

Someone provided DeGroff's recipe, which is a good place to start for sure. In general, I almost always find looking at how Gary Regan, David Wondrich, Robert Hess, Jamie Boudreau, Ted Haigh, Salvatore Calabrese, Audrey Saunders, and yeah, DeGroff do things is a reliable place to start. Most of them have websites and talk online in forums--and there's always Chowhound and eGullet's drink forums too (I'm pretty sure mojitos have been discussed at Chowhound in particular).

You said you didn't want stuff off the beaten path so I won't go into too many details, but Regan has a mojito that uses lemon instead, plus limoncello, and honestly? It's really good too.
posted by ifjuly at 9:24 AM on May 3, 2011

This might be of interest.
posted by ifjuly at 9:28 AM on May 3, 2011

And this.
posted by ifjuly at 11:05 AM on May 3, 2011

In terms of the similarity I'd say that Bacardi Silver is yes, closer, but it is nowhere near as good as Havana Club and that is why I avoid it like the plague.

Golden rums are great to change a mojito up.
posted by lizarrd at 12:00 PM on May 5, 2011

I am not a cocktail expert, but people seem to be big fans of my mojitos. I don't think I do anything fancy, and none of my ingredients are expensive. Someone somewhere will probably think what I do is awful, but this combination is so devistatingly refreshing that I just don't care. Muddling the lime gets the best of the oils in the zest, and it's easier than having to squeeze them IMO. I've made both lime and mint simple syrup, and found that both are lovely.

Muddle in a glass:
1 lime (regular, normal lime) cut into 8 wedges/pyramids
10 to 12 mint leaves (I use peppermint from the garden)

1/2 oz simple syrup (1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, plus flavorings like lime zest or mint leaves if you have extra to get rid of)
2 oz rum (I use plain old Bacardi, nothing special)
2 oz seltzer (stay away from tonic or club soda. Just use sparking water)

Stir is all together and serve with a straw so you can drink it without the lime and mint leaves getting in the way. I drop in one or two big square ice-cubes.
posted by ClosetBeauty at 7:28 PM on June 22, 2011

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