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Jul 5, 2008 06:12 PM

Looking to perfect a Mojito

I love Mojitos and have been experimenting at home and would like some killer advice on how to perfect my favourite summer cocktail. Also, is it better to use simple syrup? If so, how does one make simple syrup? Are the mint leaves muddled with the lime or separatley. Any help is most appreciated. Thanks.

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  1. Well, all of these questions are really a matter of taste. I've been making mojitos this summer and I can certainly tell you what I do.

    I do use simple syrup as it integrates into the drink better than straight sugar. Simple syrup is just sugar water. I fill a pyrex measuring cup with the requisite amounts of water and sugar and microwave for a few minutes, then stir. You can, of course, do it on the stovetop as well or boil water in a kettle and add to the sugar. The proportions are up to you and how much sweetness you want to be adding. I usually use about 4-1 water to sugar, but some people use as much as 1 to 1.

    I muddle the mint separately and add lime juice. Remember, when muddling mint, don't be too aggressive. If you crush the stuff, you will end up with some bitterness. Muddle it gently but consistently until you get a big whiff of mint when you stick your nose in the glass.

    That's what I do, but I'm sure there are many variations. Enjoy.

    2 Replies
    1. re: sku

      The simple syrup I always use for all my drinks is 1:1 sugar to water. Simply place them in a jar shake for about 30 seconds. Let it sit for 15 minutes and repeat. That should have all the sugar dissolved and you're ready to rock. For some additional flavor, try demerara sugar. It's an unprocessed natural sugar, so it gives a more complex flavor to your drinks.

      I wrote up my thoughts on simple syrup on my blog if you're interested.

      1. re: sku

        Yes! My bartender friends have also warned me against over muddling.

        One trick: take a mint leaf, put it in your mouth between your molars, and gently press down once. You should get some of the oils from the mint in your mouth: delicious!

        Now take the mint leaf and put it in the front of your month and grind it hard between your teeth: gross! Bitter! That's the chlorophylls from the mint talking. If you overmuddle mint, that bitterness will end up in your drink. So, simply press once per mint leaf, and be done with it. Only the fragrant oils will end up in your mojito. He usually does it in a wider mouthed vessel, so you an lay out the mint separately, not overlapping too much.

        For garnish, take a separate sprig of mint, remove the lower leaves so only the top part remains, then put the top part (that still has leaves attached) in one palm. Clap your hand once. That releases the fragrant oils, and you can use this as a garnish. Every time you drink the mojito, you'll smell the fragrant oils in addition to tasting them (from the ones you muddled earlier). I've seen good cocktail lounges in NYC do this, and it makes a big difference in how good the drink smells.

        Mmmmmmmmmm, mint.

        Another fun thing to do is to add champagne to the mojito (making it an Old Cuban) or sparkling water (Perrier is best, the bubbles are finer in Perrier, yes, I know, it sounds snobby).

        Old Cuban recipe

        Another thing to note is that to get a more intense lime juice, you need to get the oils out of the skin of the lime. This can be easily done by juicing the lime in a juicer, and either juicing half a lime pointy side down (so that the lime half gets inverted and the skin gets crushed) or juicing most of an entire lime at once, just cut off enough to expose the fruit and make sure the whole fruit gets crushed when juicing. The method used will of course depend upon your juicer.

      2. Best with:
        Tall, thin walled glass
        Crushed ice, not cubes
        Myers platinum or Havana Club blanco
        minimum amount of water to dissolve the sugar
        whack the "muddled" part of the mint pretty hard, and garnish with a sprig
        a squeeze of lime, this is not a lime drink
        club soda to top it

        I have celebrated two July 4'ths at La Bodeguita in Havana, where the genuine article got it's start .
        But not yesterday *sob*. The barkeeps there insist that the type of mint in the original mojito only grows in Cuba, so one must visit Hemingway's haunt to have the real experience. Urban myth? Who knows...But I still toast to poppa in Ketchem.

        1. In a 16 oz glass
          1/2 fresh lime
          @8 torn mint leaves
          1/2 oz simple syrup (1 to 1 mix)
          Fill with ice
          Add 2 oz. white rum
          Splash of soda
          Add straw

          1. Thanks so much for the tips. I will try the simple syrup and play with the proportions. I see there is a real continuum on the ratio of sugar to water, I have been using aged amber rum as opposed to white rum.

            1. Sacrilege, I know, but I've been messing with minted simple syrups and using a fresh sprig of mint only as a garnish. Much more consistent (and stronger) mint flavor that way and, in my opinion, a better end result. I make the minted syrup by using a cup of sugar, a cup of water, and a cup to a cup and a half of mint leaves (tightly packed, coarsely chopped). Put all of the above in a saucepan, bring to a simmer, allow to simmer for a few minutes, then off the heat and let it rest for 15-20 minutes. Strain into a bottle and you're done. 1/2-3/4 ounce of that, 1/2-3/4 oz of fresh lime juice, and 2 ounces of the rum of your choice (I've been using 10 Cane recently). Build over ice, top up with soda, apply a mint sprig to the top.