There’s naught, no doubt, so much the spirit calms as rum and true religion.Lord Byron
When I think of summer mojitos, I picture myself in a swanky beach bar in Miami. The summer sun is hot with brilliant rays of light. My eyes rest easy on lots of smiling faces and wandering hearts in colorful swimsuits and tanned skin. There’s almost a jazz-like swirl to their walk, the way their eyes dance when they talk, and of course, with a cold drink in their hand. The laughter is dialed up a bit and the jokes run free. Hugs abound and new friends embrace just as the breeze wraps up another day around the warmth of the setting sun.
Mojitos are one of those tropical drinks that just beckon you and brightens your senses with the freshness of the mint and the pucker of the lime. Simply made with white rum, sugar, lime, soda water and mint, they are immediately refreshing.
I’ve seen all types of mojitos in my day, and I am certain you have too. One of the fanciest ones I ever saw was at the SLS bar in Los Angeles where they started with fresh cotton candy in the glass. As the other ingredients were added, the cotton candy melted and provided the sweetness that cane syrup or sugar would in traditional forms of the elixir. It was definitely a wow factor to watch and to taste!
Much like other standard cocktails, i.e., margaritas and martinis, mojitos come in all shapes, sizes, colors and flavors. The classic version, however, features very simple, yet critical ingredients: white rum, sugar (and/or simple syrup), club soda, fresh lime juice, and fresh mint.
Start with a Collins or highball glass. Add about 8-10 fresh mint leaves, half of a lime cut into small wedges, and white sugar into the glass. Muddle it all together. [If you can use an actual muddler, it is best because the little spikes on the bottom of the flat surface will help squeeze the juice from the limes without needing to crush anything. You really just want to release enough juice from the lime without getting the bitter flavors from the skin of the lime.]
Add some semi-crushed ice to the glass. Pour in the rum. Give it several turns with a long spoon and top with club soda. Garnish with additional mint leaves and lime wedges.
Try to use white rum over dark or spiced rum, as this is the traditional way it is made. The white rum will make the drink that much more light and refreshing.
Sugar is a key ingredient with a classic mojito because it infuses with the tartness of the lime to create that perfect balance. If, however, you are trying to stay away from white sugar, you can use agave syrup or simple syrup instead. You may have to play around with the quantity of this ingredient, as some prefer their mojitos more sweet than others.
Mojitos are so versatile that you can make multitudes of variations using your favorite fruits. For National Mojito Day, in addition to the classic version, I’m also featuring a pineapple mojito and a blueberry mojito. Add these to your summer playbook. Both are full of summer flavors and will bring you right back to the beach bar in Miami with the warm ocean breeze and tanned skin wandering the shoreline…Let’s imagine we’d order another round and let’s toast to a momentary escape with this classic mojito.
10 fresh mint leaves, plus more for garnish
1/2 lime, cut into 4 wedges, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons superfine sugar, to taste
1-1/2 ounces white rum
1/2 cup Topo Chico or your favorite soda water
- In a thick medium glass, add mint leaves and a couple of lime wedges. With a muddler, crush the lime and mint leaves together.
- Add two more lime wedges and the sugar and using the muddler again, press the juice out of the limes.
- Fill the glass almost full with semi-crushed ice. Pour rum over ice and add the soda water to nearly full.
- Garnish with additional mint sprigs and a lime wheel.
Ingredients ~ Pineapple Mojito
3 lime wedges
2 pineapple chunks
5-6 fresh mint leaves
2 ounces light rum
2 ounces pineapple mint puree (see recipe below)
2-3 ounces club soda
Ingredients ~ Pineapple Mint Puree
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cup fresh mint, firmly packed
1-1/2 cups fresh pineapple chunks
Preparation ~ Pineapple Mojitos:
- Place lime wedges, pineapple chunks and mint in bottom of a cocktail shaker. Lightly muddle ingredients and fill shaker with ice. Add rum and pineapple puree and shake until icy cold and frosted, approximately 30 seconds.
- Don’t strain mixture. Pour into highball glass (or two lowball glasses).
- Top with club soda, to your taste.
- Garnish with pineapple wedge, mint and/or lime wedge.
Preparation ~ Pineapple Mint Puree:
- Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar dissolves, approximately two-three minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in mint. Let syrup cool.
- While syrup cools, place pineapple chunks in a blender and puree until smooth, approximately 2 minutes. Pour the cooled syrup into the blender and pulse a couple of times to combine. Pour the pineapple puree into a jar and chill until ready to use.
- Can be made 3-4 days ahead; keep in refrigerator.
1 cup fresh blueberries, plus more for garnish
10-12 fresh mint leaves, plus more for garnish
1/2 lime cut into wedges, plus more for garnish
1 ounce simple syrup or 2 teaspoons sugar
1-1/2 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
4 ounces white rum
Sparkling water or club soda
- In two highball glasses, divide and layer cut lime wedges, mint leaves and blueberries.
- Add the simple syrup (or sugar). With a muddler, gently crush the contents of the glass together for approximately 30 seconds.
- Pour the lime juice and rum into the glasses. Fill almost to the top with crushed ice. Add splash of sparkling water and stir well.
- Garnish with lime wheel or wedge, whole blueberries and/or sprigs of mint.