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”

  • Mike says:

    Jim,

    If you have friends in Mexico you can get Havana Club rum and bring it back. If you can’t get to Mexico, you may want to try Cruzan Mango Rum in your Mojito for a differnt taste treat. While I prefer Barbados rum (Mt. Gay or Doorly’s, taste is a personal thing. If you like Malibu, you are off my list.

    Mike

  • Didi says:

    Having read this advice as well as most of this hompage (thanks for the Tonic recipe!!!) I’d like to add some points:

    1) Don’t use crushed ice. Use smallish cubes or cracked ice. A mojito is meant to be rather strong a drink and it should be watered down enough by the soda you are topping it off with.
    2) Don’t throw the hulls in the drink. Nobody does this in Havana (and I’ve been to most of the famous and some not so famous bars there). Furthermore, In a drink that doesn’t call for muddling the limes hard, to release the essential oils, it is IMHO just wasted glass capacity (yes, I know, I’m greedy).
    3) It’s not a no-no, but I’d rather not use simple syrup. Superfine cane sugar dissolves quickly enough, if you stir until the drink is cold enough. The reason is, that a mojito contains relatively little soda water (or should at least). Simple syrup and crushed ice impart non bubbly water into the drink. But since you want to use a good splash of soda, without overdiluting your Mojito, cutting down the non bubbly water you are adding to the drink (i.e. crushed ice and syrup) is a good idea.
    4) I don’t know, what you mean by overmuddling. If that means not to destroy them, so you dont have tiny specks of mint floating in the drink, I’m all for it. But if that means muddling the mint gently, like you would in a mint julep, I’d call that wrong. The bitterness that muddling can get out of the sprigs of the mint is very pleasant in a mojito (kinda like the poor man’s Angostura). As a rule of thumb, I’d say, muddle as hard as possible, without destroying the integrity of the mint leaves.
    5) The advice to use only white rum is somewhat misleading. Technically 3yrs old Havana Club is to be considered an aged rum. Nevertheless it is the standard rum in a mojito against which all others are judged. And I’d opine, that it is the best rum out there for a mojito, since the demise of Matusalem (I mean the real one, not the US version.). Possibly Caney as just as good. (Using somethin like a 7yrs old rum in it is not wrong per se, but it would be called a mojito mulata, instead of just mojito.)

    I apologize for the lengthy post, but it seems to me, that during the long embargo, the US version of the mojito has been subtly changed by bartenders who try to apply what works with the mint julep to the mojito. Thus I wanted to share some feedback based on numerous travels to Cuba (and my own experience trying to reproduce what the best bars in Havana serve).

  • Chris says:

    At the risk of herersy, a friend got me a bottle of mango flavored rum. I only drink rum in mojito. Not wanting to offend the charming lass, we mixed mango mojito. It was a nice departure from the usual.

    And yes, I mix mojito in winter; to thumb my nose at the blizzard outside. Not only that, I sip my mojito while enjoying a nice cigar out in the cold. Any takers?

  • geo says:

    For a tasty addition, we throw in a shot of St Germain into the mix. YUM!

    I’m going to have to try the S.Pellegrino, currently we use Schweppes Club Soda & were considering making our own because $4.99/6pk is putting a dent in the old bank account, as we love us some tasty mojitos.. ; )

    Will also try muddling the mint less, though I predict I will miss the stronger mint flavor. I’m willing to try, though..

    Thanks for the tips, Jeffrey!

  • Loren says:

    I think a good clarification on the muddling issue would be to suggest focusing all muddling efforts on the stalks and leaving the leaves as intact as possible. The juice is in the stalks and as mentioned above, muddling the leaves breaks them up, makes them less attractive, and results in greenery amidst your teeth. Unfortunately, many bartenders don’t know this, but this was something that the best bartenders that I encountered in Havana, Cuba over my five visits have stressed… and after tasting literally hundreds of them there and elsewhere, I must agree with them.

  • Robert says:

    I recognize the heresy, but suggest that flavor is flavor. I like dark, aged rums. As with most things, quality in, quality out. Mint is a strong flavor, why try to force a white rum to match up with it? Again, I admit I like flavor, and sometimes subtlety is lost on me. My only concern is wasting a really good rum (a single cube is usually good) on a mixed drink. But, when it comes to mojitos, I am willing to risk it.

  • Cheryl says:

    As summer approaches I stumbled on this article about mojitos and had (as did many others in the thread) a couple of opinions. I start by making a mojito base (quantities dependent on how many I am anticipating making)- in a bowl I put the sugar, squeeze the limes (and scraping some of the pulp in, no rind or pith) and add the mint. Then I muddle the heck out of everything to make a syrupy paste. Usually there is enough lime juice to make it pourable, if not, add a smidge of water, just enough so you can strain it. That can go in the fridge to sit awhile and infuse.

    When the time comes to assemble the drinks, I get the (clear) glasses and put in ice cubes, 1-2 thin slices of lime (totally for visual), 2-3 mint leaves (visual) and then a shot of rum. I strain the mojito base and put about 2 shots in each glass. Top off with Pellegrino. Then I try to arrange the lime and mint so they are dispersed through the glass. Garnish with a tiny minut sprig. To me, the mojito should be as visually refreshing as it tastes- barest hint of a greenish color, the cool green lime slices and mint leaves floating in the glass- those should all combine so that when you see your mojito you think, “Wow, I didn’t know I was that thirsty!” and then you take a sip and the taste matches perfectly with the refreshment that you expected just from seeing the drink.

    Yeah, I’m a little in love with mojitos. They aren’t bad as a virgin drink either. My daughter came up with a variation that sounds uber-exotic, but it’s not-it’s a member of the mint family and citrus, but this time it’s basil and OJ (and pellegrino/ice). I did not try that with rum, so I can’t vouch for it as an alcohol cocktail, but the flavor combo is fantastic and it just sounds impressive, bc it sounds like your going to be drinking spaghetti or Italian food (since basil is usually considered a savory). I bet a pastis or anisette would be yummy with that- use fennel fronds as the garnish and it’s like a sweeter, drinkable fennel-orange salad…

  • Eric Lecours says:

    ciao jeffrey, you mentioned the following above, “Do use bottled mineral water in place of seltzer water. Remember, garbage in, garbage out.”

    i think i’m missing something. why is seltzer (soda) water inferior and mineral water better?

    btw, we carry a great italian mineral water at the restaurant but the sparkling version is only lightly sparkling, i.e. frizzante.

    cheers, eric

  • Anthony says:

    *thought

    Actually now I’m wondering if you could make a nice drink with basil instead of mint. In parts of SE Asia there’s yum non alc drinks made with crushed basil leaf and basil seed. It’s kind of minty but with an aniseed hit. Like Thai basil.

  • Casey says:

    This has been a great thread to read through, but I have to ask the pros here for some help.

    I need to make about two gallons of mojitos. I know it can be done. So, to that end, what is the best and easiest way to accomplish this?

    It can be done. Thanks,
    Casey

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