The Dos and Donts of Mojitos

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Well, it’s mojito season here in the northern hemisphere, which means it’s time for a little lesson for the novice and experienced mojito drinker alike. Follow these helpful hints, dear reader, and you won’t dare go wrong.

Do use crushed ice in your mojitos. Crushed ice will melt faster, which is a good thing in a drink with such strong flavors. The extra surface area of crushed ice also means a colder drink.

Do not use a pre-made mojito mix out of a bottle. This is one drink you want to do right.

Do use this recipe to make yourself a mojito at home.

Do not over-muddle the mint, or muddle the lime with the ice cubes. These are strictly amateur moves.

Do try Bacardi rum in your mojitos. For many of us, it is the closest thing we can get to real Cuban rum.

Do not use dark or gold rum in your mojitos. They can muddy the flavor tremendously.

Do use bottled mineral water in place of seltzer water. Remember, garbage in, garbage out.

Do not order a mojito when there is a line at the bar. Your bartender is probably not going to put a lot of love into it. In fact, you might get just the opposite.

Do order a mojito when the bar is slow. Your bartender will appreciate having an intricate cocktail to make. And if he/she doesn’t? Fuck ’em.

Do not have ten mojitos tonight. At around 150 calories each, that’s like 1500 calories, there, fatty.

Do order a mojito from a reputable bartender at a reputable bar.

Do not order a mojito at a dance club, sports bar, drink stand, airport bar, OTB saloon, chain restaurant or fraternity house. You’re just going to end up being disappointed.

Do order a mojito on a warm summer evening.

Do not order a mojito when the weather is below 70°F. This is almost as bad as ordering a Bloody Mary after the sun has gone down.

Do slowly sip a mojito and enjoy the way the flavors meld over time.

Do not slurp down a mojito in less time than it took your bartender to make it. You’re probably already on the back burner for ordering it in the first place, and it’s going to be a while before you’re allowed another.

91 Replies to “The Dos and Donts of Mojitos”

  • Jim Rees says:

    I much prefer Havana Club to Bacardi. If I have none on hand I use Flor de Caña.

    I did look into the various kinds of mint. In Havana they use (surprise) Cuban mint (mentha nemorosa), but if you just buy mint at the grocery store you get spearmint (mentha spicata). I can’t find Cuban mint here but I do grow a close relative, apple mint (mentha suaveolens) in my back yard and use that. I did a side by side taste test and they are different. But I can’t swear that you could tell the difference in a mojito, or that one is better than the other.

  • Callum says:

    “Do not order a mojito when there is a line at the bar. Your bartender is probably not going to put a lot of love into it. In fact, you might get just the opposite.”

    Have to disagree with this comment – as the Mojito is by far and away my favourite cocktail, I love making them – and it’s a welcome break from the endless Cosmos and French Martinis ordered by people who wouldn’t know a good cocktail if it slapped them in the face.

  • Callum says:

    Meant to add – one of the best Mojitos I’ve had the pleasure of tasting was one in Tallinn, Estonia, where the bar used vanilla infused rum.

  • nancy says:

    I would like to make mojitos for a small dinner party (8 of us) but since I’m hostess would like to do as much as I can beforehand…what if I made a pitcher of the muddled mints leaves, rum, lime and sugar and then poured this into my guests’ glasses with crushed ice and then added club soda? Thoughts?

    (and my husband would make a terrible bar tender so that is not an option….)

  • Nancy

    I’ve never been very comfortable making a gallon of mojitos at a time, because it’s one of those drinks that needs to be built directly in the glass in order to be made properly. How will you dole out just the right amount of liquid and soggy mint into each glass? It seems like more trouble than timesaver.

    Never fear, though, I do have an alternate suggestion for you:

    Pre-mix each mojito in the glass – without the ice and soda water – an hour or two before dinner. Then cover each tightly with plastic wrap and place in the fridge until your guests arrive. When it’s time, even your husband shouldn’t have any trouble filling each glass with ice and topping them with soda water.

    I hope this helps, and I think it should be much easier.


  • ND says:

    We do get Havana Club over here, and it really is very good, with all those fruity flavours. However, a worthy variation on the classic IMHO, is to substitute the rum with cachaca… try it and let me know what you think!

  • Drago says:

    Wow, I’ve just been re-treading through your site all day. First at work w/ the Tonic update and now skimming the archives. I have to say it’s my favorite drinks website, keep up the good work. (Though I also like Drink Dogma and The Paupered Chef sometimes has good cocktail posts.)

    It’s funny how everyone has their own spin based on their personal tastebud profiles. I almost never have “light” rum on hand as I think it just doesn’t have much taste until you get to the more expensive brands that I can rarely afford! For mojitos, and just about any other rum concoction, I generally prefer the flavor of a golden rum, such as Appleton Special or (preferably) the Cruzan “Dark” Two-Year. (Which isn’t very dark.) However, I omit almost all of the sugar, just leaving enough to help the muddle, that way we don’t end up with a sickly sweet mess! The rest of your suggestions are spot-on.

    I dread what ten mojitos would do to me…or what my heirs would do with my estate.

  • alixium says:

    (love the blog, by the way)
    Reminds me of a mojito horror story of mine: the following happened in a swanky open bar event, in a 5-star hotel. My friends and I are excited about ordering a mojito (should’ve known about the do’s & don’ts!!). The bartender indicates that he rarely did some, but he’ll attempt it for us (bad start). He grabs a highball, drops three mint leaves on the bottom of it, followed by a teaspoon of white sugar (yes! you read well!). He heaps a couple of ice cubes over that, and fills the glass half-way with dark rum. I am speechless at this point. He turns to me and says: – I don’t have club soda anymore, so I’ll just put 7-up. And picks up an already-opened can (which, I will later taste, is totally fizz-less!) and pour to fill the glass.
    The worst drink ever.

  • (thank you)
    Whenever I order a drink and witness some horrifying attempt at bartending like the one you described, I always remember to order one additional drink: a beer in a bottle.

    I pay for the whole round, smile, tip the poor bartender that just fumbled through my drink, and leave with both hands full. The cocktail will quickly find itself abandoned on a table or the back of a toilet, and I’ll be enjoying my bottled beer before quietly leaving the establishment.

  • Michael Bolick says:

    About the sugar , Its superfine or powdered in the original recipe . and when you muddle if you twist the mint leaves and then muddle in a little lime juice the acid helps release the natural oils.
    I ts all about the type of sugar, mojito’s should be a merky light green.

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