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”

  • Christopher James says:

    I’ve had lots of success with the Dark N Stormy Mojito on my drink menus of the past. Obviously its a mash up of the dark n stormy and the mojito.

    1.75 oz Goslings Black Seal Rum
    1.0 oz fresh lime juice
    .75 oz simple syrup
    10-12 mint leaves
    Ginger beer

    Rim the glass being used with the mint leaves and lightly muddle them with the lime juice and simple syrup. Add the goslings, fill the glass 1/2 way with crushed ice and stir until a frost forms. Add desired amount of ginger beer (I prefer about an ounce and a half). Top off with more crushed ice. Garnish with clapped mint sprigs (julep style) and serve with straws. Not only does the mint rim reinforce the mint aroma, if the guest chooses to drink from the glass its a nice surprise of mint. The straw should exceed the height of the mint sprig garnish so if the guest chooses the steaw theyll get a nice waft of mint as they imbibe.

  • I LOVE all your do’s and donts!!! Mojito’s are my favorite drink and I agree NEVER use pre-made mojito mix 😉

  • Lemia says:

    I’m so glad I found this today. Thank You!
    I’m trying to put together a mojito gift basket for a wedding and couldn’t get decent advice on buying a rum at the liquor store. I’ll feel much better prepared when I go back!

    I noticed that you have some recommended tools listed, but not a specific muddler. There seems to be quite a variety between the stainless steel, wood, lacquered wood, and even the designs with a grooved head. Since you mention the importance of not over muddling the mint, which tool is safest/best?

  • Angela M.J. says:

    Was introduced to mojitos in Havana in 2000. Drank them daily in various locales, in and out touristy areas, and out in the countryside too. Down there, these practices applied everywhere:

    — Light rum only. Nothing old, nothing brown or gold or whatever. Light rum.

    — Simple syrup. Never saw a single mixer use solid sugar. (And Cubans use sugar everywhere all the time.)

    — Lots of mint, well muddled, usually with a flat plastic thing. Nothing fancy. And a mint sprig on top when it’s done. No straining. Use a straw if you want to avoid vegetation.

    — Ice cubes, followed by juice squeezed from a big hunk of lime, which is then dropped in the glass.

    — Topped off with soda. Plain old soda water. By the time you got to the point, there wasn’t much room left, so basically a healthy splash.

    That’s it. This is a drink that has been tragically overthought.

  • DFeldman says:

    Adding to the various heresies, I made a substitution everyone loved – tonic water instead of soda water. Anyone tried that?

  • Paolo Brien Gonzales says:

    Can I drink Mojitos tequilla without any ingredients ..? Sorry for my english ..please reply

  • Edward says:

    If you change rum for another spirit, will you still name the cocktail “mojito” in any way?

  • Boomshlakkalakka says:

    Good luck finding a bartender nice enough to make you a Mojito with crushed ice! Not saying you ain’t gone find one just saying they’re hard to find in America. I have a favs spot in Laguna Beach where I go specifically for a crushed ice mojito. I’d lived in Japan where it’s just common to use crushed . Came back home spoiled!

  • seth says:

    I was going to add to this conversation quite late; The type of mint you use can affect the drink quite a lot. Yerba Buena and Spearmint are quite different to grow and to taste. Spearmint is more common and is actually easier to grow, but is less authentic. Yerba Buena has a more herbaceous minty flavor whereas the spearmint has a cleaner, more intense mint. Furthermore, if you are getting away from classics and want to make variations, try chocolate mint, pineapple mint, or lemon mint instead and you will find some very nice subtle variations int he drink.

    Also, if you find that the limes you have are too bitter and your mojito tastes a little bitter, you can do some research on how you are juicing them (You can overpress limes) but you may also find yourself adding more sweetness to counteract the bitterness- in this case, a slice or julienned spear of fresh ginger can reduce the felt sweetness and provide a nice bit of sharpness to the profile. Actually ginger mojitos are amazing and you should try one.

    I also want to weigh in and say that slapping the mint instead of muddling is perfectly fine and you can leave the whole sprig of mint in the glass and have a beautiful presentation and fantastic flavor with no detritus to cloud the drink.

  • j-swim says:

    I’m always late to the party…

    Harold Mcgee gave a wonderful lecture on what happens when you (essentially) attack herbs a couple years ago. Upon sensing distress the plant releases toxins into its leaves, making them bitter and unpleasantly vegetal, and hopefully acting as a deterrent to future predators. He suggests treating herbs as gently as possible. Unfortunately, if you’re making a mojito you have to get that mint flavor out of the mint and in to the drink. How?

    Dave Arnold suggests nitro-freezing the leaves before shaking them. I don’t have that option at my bar–most don’t– but I’ve done several side by side comparison with muddled vs shaking whole leaves and I’m never going back to muddling. NEVER. I don’t care about tradition, only flavor and muddled mint tastes terrible. To avoid over dilution i use just a couple cold draft cubes and shake for a very brief time– just to get those oils into the drink as quick as possible. Another trick is to add the soda water directly to the tin before I pour over cracked ice. I also add a bunch of whole leaves to the glass and a big sprig on top so you get plenty of minty aromatics with every sip. Cheers

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