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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.

              1. It's unbelievable to me how comlicated people make all this. I've tried mojitos up and down Miami beach, and have experimented at home, and as much as I'd like to keep this secret to myself, I feel I need to share such an obvious tip:

                Forget the simple syrup, forget the sugar. Just use about a shot or two of good limeade (Odwalla, Newmans, Columbia Gorge, etc. - the best use agave as sweetener), which already has sweetener mixed in. Blend this with the juice of one fresh lime, and you're golden. Add 10 Cane rum and mint leaves (muddle with limeade for better results), then add a couple of shots of club soda. Now you have the best mojito, and you never had to deal with that ridiculous simple syrup B.S. There's a sucker born every minute, and every time someone tries to make simple syrup at home to make a mojoto, it validates PT Barnum's statement...

                6 Replies
                1. re: MichaelG

                  There's a sucker born every minute, and every time someone tries to make simple syrup at home to make a mojoto, it validates PT Barnum's statement...

                  Really? As opposed to the people who pay to buy lime juice (often from concentrate) mixed with sugar (or high frucose corn syrup)? Sorry, I'll make mine from scratch thank you very much.

                  1. re: sku

                    Actually, read the OP, which said the best use agave as a sweetner. A good agave-based limeade is probably pretty good, particularly in a margarita.

                    1. re: AlbertaHound

                      at our local farmer's market, there are some people selling Agave syrup infused with various things, one being mint. I was tempted to buy this to try in mojitos, but since i only have mojitos once in a blue moon anyway, i passed. But I think it'd be pretty good, with agave being pretty neutral in taste.

                  2. re: MichaelG

                    That's crazy talk. Not making this perfection from scratch is preposterous. There are subtleties to consider

                    "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not one bit simpler."
                    -Albert Einstein

                    1. re: MichaelG

                      wow, I didn't realize mixing sugar and water together made me a sucker.

                      I know there are suckers that actually BUY premade simple syrup from stirrings.

                      As far as your recipe, I think I will stick with the classic. I suppose you like limeade in your margaritas too?

                      1. re: MichaelG

                        Complicated? Simple syrup just takes a minute to make, and keeps seemingly forever in a jar in the fridge. It comes in handy for lots of drinks. And maybe "good limeade" makes YOUR tastebuds happy, but to mine, homemade is better. Sometimes an extra step is worth it, and for me it's PLEASANT to do. There's simple pleasure in the process as well as the end result.

                      2. at the risk of offending purists who will say this is not a mojito (and i would agree), i use 100% maple syrup (in smaller quantities, like 1-2 tbspn) instead of simple syrup (so no need to deal with making the simple syrup), i leave out the lime and substitute 1 oz Averna liqueur, and muddle 8 fresh bing cherries into it (along with the mint and 2oz rum, of course, and a splash of soda if you like).

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: barleywino

                          Nice. I'll even try that. But you can't call that a mojito.

                          1. re: 2top

                            you can taste the rum and mint, the only difference is that instead of having lime overpowering the drink, it's Averna and cherry...once you have one, there's no going back to "regular" mojitos...then there's the version they used to make at Spire (Boston), with pineapple infused rum, molasses and i forget what else

                            1. re: barleywino

                              Well, I'm interested in the Averna, which I love, with cherry. Lime shouldn't over power a mojito. That's the art of it...a balance of sweet and sour. I'll always go back to a masterpiece. Pineapple in a drink doesn't tempt me.

                              1. re: 2top

                                i agree balance is key. The Averna adds that extra hint of bitters/chocolate/cola (all of which go great with cherry) into the mix, giving the drink an extra complexity that plain lime lacks

                        2. IMO, for the freshest taste, take a pint glass, muddle a half of a large lime that has been quartered with 1 Tbsp turbinado sugar until the lime is almost mush. fill the glass about 2/3 full of mint leaves and muddle again. fill the glass with crushed ice and add about 1/3 full of a good lighter rum;(I like 10 cane or Mt. Gay) add about 1/4 c. seltzer water and garnish with a sprig of mint and serve with a straw.(a silver teaspoon/straw works best. I've won a few informal mojito contest/tastings with this recipe.

                          1. Here's how I do mine at work, and people go bonkers for them:

                            Quarter a lime and toss into a mixing glass along with 8 to 10 mint leaves and 3/4 ounce Depaz cane sugar syrup (you could just as easily substitute regular simple syrup or a tablespoon of sugar). Muddle everything until the lime is thoroughly juiced. Top the glass up with 2 ounces of light rum (I'm becoming very partial to Cruzan) and fill with crushed ice. Gently shake, pour into a serving glass, and top off with 2 ounces club soda.

                            1. I am having a birthday party for my 2 little ones and of course, need some spirits for the adults! :-) I was going to make a HUGE bin of Sangria (which I've done many times before.....I have a big plastic bin with a spout that I use for parties), but was thinking of doing a giant vat of Mojitos, instead. Would this work out? And, what about the amounts of everything? (And, for such a large amount, I actually like the Limeade idea......maybe unauthentic, but easy and good!)

                              Anyone have ideas or thoughts to help me out?

                              9 Replies
                              1. re: stacylyn

                                Not advisable. Mojitos need to be made one at a time. Of course I'm a traditional perfectionist.

                                For a big batch I like macerating honey dew melon balls in vodka. Takes 24 to 48 hours.

                                1. re: 2top

                                  cool idea on the honey dew -- given that, i bet some prosciutto on the side would be good too

                                  1. re: barleywino

                                    Warning the melon balls become bitter. I garnish with fresh sweet melon balls.

                                    1. re: 2top

                                      maybe they can be macerated in a mix of Barenjager and vodka

                                      1. re: barleywino

                                        There you go again...changing the drink to something else. I offer up a a well balanced cocktail here, adding honey to the mix makes it toooo sweeeeet!

                                        1. re: 2top

                                          hey you said they become bitter, i'm just offering a suggestion for fixing that...i didn't say to drown it in barenjager...doesn't hurt to think outside the box now and then

                                  2. re: 2top

                                    We made the "Tipsy Watermelon Salad" from Virginia Willis' book "Bon Appetit, Y'all" for the 4th. Very tasty. Would've made the "Drunken Watermelon Pops" recipe that's here but ran out of time to freeze.

                                  3. re: stacylyn

                                    If you use the minted simple syrup I mentioned, pre-juice a bunch of limes, pre-rinse and cut a bunch of mint sprigs for garnish, and invest in a large shaker, you'll be good to go. You could even pre-mix the rum and syrup (probably not a good idea to do that with the lime juice -- save that for the last moment, just before shaking). I see no reason that you couldn't pull this off with ease.

                                    1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                      I make mojitos for a crowd by muddling mint, a couple of limes in quarters or smaller, and sugar. Then I add enough lime juice to get the sugar nice and syrupy. Since it doesn't take much mint to add plenty of flavor, I pretty much scale the amount of sugar and lime juice based on how big a batch I want to make. When I have enough liquid that the sugar is pretty wetted and runny (not totally dissolved- you can taste for a pretty good sweet/sour balance), I add warm club soda until the sugar dissolves. Then strain and chill the syrup.

                                      To make an individual drink, I squeeze a couple of lime wedges over ice, add about 1/4 of the drink as rum, 1/4 as syrup, and the remainder as club soda, stir and garnish with a mint sprig.

                                      The original recipe/method came from a Food & Wine article from 1999: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/ci...

                                      I think the largest batch I've made was for my wedding rehearsal dinner. I remember a case of limes and I probably made a couple gallons of mix.

                                      Unlike thew (see below), I don't want crunchy sugar in my drink. I'd even go as far as buzzing granulated sugar in the coffee grinder to make it superfine for drinks. Esp. if I was making individually-prepared mojitos.

                                  4. i like sugar over syrup. to me the tiny bits of graniness from the tiny bit of sugar that doesnt dissolve is nice

                                    1. while far from a traditional mojito i had a delicious variant last week that used st germaine instead of sugar/syrup as the sweetening agent

                                      5 Replies
                                        1. re: barleywino

                                          Okay, I know everyone is going to slam me for this, but sometimes I make diet mojitos, and yikes, sometimes even diet, virgin mojitos! A year ago I lost a lot of weight and work hard to keep it off, so I do what I have to do.
                                          Instead of sugar I will use splenda, muddle that with the limes, add the mint, muddle again and top off with club soda. If I want a cocktail I will add the rum.
                                          It makes a very refreshing drink for a summer afternoon.

                                          Of course, don't get me wrong, I have made and love mojitos made with simple syrup and rum, and still make those too. But when I am trying to watch things, I do what I have to do.

                                          I realize I just gave everyone out there heart failure, sorry about that.

                                          1. re: KathyH

                                            reminds me of how i (occasionally) make a poor man's manhattan, which is to put a few Amarena Fabbri cherries in a glass w/ some of the dark syrup from the jar, then add soda water...

                                            1. re: KathyH

                                              kathyh, i like your "skinny mojito".

                                              1. re: KathyH

                                                Actually, it works pretty well. The only reason I don't do it is because I don't like the chemical aftertaste I get from artificial sweetener.

                                          2. The best mojitos that I have ever had were in Cuba. They use a small amount of mint and sugarcane syrup not simple syrup. Every mojito that I have had in the States had way too much mint. In Cuba they rubbed the mint leaf against the inside of the glass after pouring in the sugarcane syrup.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: MIKELOCK34

                                              The first time I ever tried making a mojito was in the 80s, and I found the recipe in Gourmet. It called for lemons, not limes. It was delicious (how can you go wrong with lemon and mint (or lime and mint)), but I wonder why they called for lemons instead of limes? Is there any such thing as a lemon mojito?

                                              1. re: watercress

                                                I have never seen lemon used, though it sounds great. Again, my biggest complaint in the States is the large amount of mint used in mojitos. If you would use just a small amount of mint as they did in Cuba, the lemon version would probably be very refreshing.