Finally! I’ve figured out how to make the perfect homemade mojito. Mojitos are bubbly rum cocktails that taste minty-fresh, citrusy and a little sweet. Club soda stretches out the flavors to create an afternoon-worthy sipper. Mojitos are ultra refreshing on warm days, and I feel like I’m on vacation every time I get my hands on one.
Mojitos originated in Cuba and I hope to taste a real one someday. We enjoyed Cuban-style mojitos in Miami over a long Valentine’s weekend earlier this year. Mojitos happen to be the only cocktail my husband will drink (he’s usually more of a beer and wine guy). I studied the bartenders’ methods while we were there so I could learn how to make them at home.
At Old’s Havana, they lined up highball glasses all the way down the bar, added a generous spoonful of sugar to each, followed by several sprigs of fresh mint (or yerba buena, as they call it). They mixed the mojitos in the glasses by the order, garnishing them with real sugar cane. I swizzled my drink and swayed to the beat of lively Latin string music playing just a few feet away. I honestly don’t know if it was an authentic or manufactured Miami experience, but it was magical nonetheless.
Outside of Miami, great mojitos can be hard to come by. Many bars don’t keep fresh mint on hand so they’ll turn down the request, and my own homemade attempts over the years have been lackluster. Now that I’ve studied and practiced my mojito technique, I’m excited to share my mojito recipe with you today!
Turns out, you just need five basic ingredients (mint, lime, sugar, rum and club soda) and a few simple tips to make the best mojito you’ve ever had. You won’t even need a shaker or simple syrup for this classic mojito recipe. Cheers!
Use the freshest, most beautiful mint you can find. If your mint is looking sad and wilted, you can try resuscitating it in a bowl of ice water for ten minutes. That usually perks it back up. Save the most beautiful sprigs for garnishing your mojitos.
Spearmint is my favorite mint variety for mojitos. As a plus, it’s the easiest type of mint to find at grocery stores (if you see ambiguously labeled “mint,” it’s probably spearmint). Spearmint is sweeter and more mellow than peppermint. Peppermint is loaded with menthol, which can give your mojito a strange cooling mouthwash effect. If you love to garden, consider growing mojito mint (mentha x villosa), which originated in Cuba and is considered the most authentic mint for mojitos.
I use fine cane sugar in my mojitos, and it’s easy to adjust to taste. Most of the mojitos I’ve ordered at bars are too sweet for my liking, which is yet another reason why I love making mojitos at home. Some recipes call for simple syrup instead of sugar, but I actually like the texture of plain sugar in mojitos—the occasional sugar granule is a sweet surprise!
For a classic mojito, you absolutely want to use white rum, also known as clear, light or blanco. True Cuban rum is impossible to buy in the States due to the embargo, so we’ll make do with other Caribbean rums. Some of the best rums for mojitos are El Dorado 3 Years, Plantation 3 Stars, Flor de Caña, or of course, Bacardi.
Fresh lime juice is the only way to go! Reserve your most lovely green lime and slice it into rounds to garnish your mojitos.
We’ll top off our ice-filled glasses with club soda. Bubbly club soda transforms the intense flavors of rum, mint and lime into an easy sipper. Any club soda or plain sparkling water will do. Lately, I’ve been loving Topo Chico, which is not traditional but offers tons of tiny, persistent bubbles and no funny aftertaste.
Suggested Mojito Equipment
Mojitos really are easy to make, especially when you have these tools (these links are affiliate links):
How to Make the Best Mojito
You’ll find the full recipe below. Here are a few tips for best results:
Select sturdy, thick-bottomed glassware. We’re mixing the drink in the glass and I’ve never had any problems doing so. Treat it with care, though, and don’t use Mom’s crystal.
Don’t muddle excessively. It’s tempting to muddle your mint into tiny pieces as you hope for maximally minty flavor. I know, I’ve done it myself (here’s proof). In fact, your mojito will taste better if you don’t overdo it, and the texture will be more enjoyable without tons of tiny mint bits floating around.
Adjust to taste. The recipe as written yields my ideal mojito, but please tweak it to suit your taste buds. Use a little less rum for a less boozy sipper. Add more sugar if you prefer a sweeter drink (our mojitos in Miami likely used between 2 teaspoons and 1 tablespoon of sugar). Or, omit the sugar entirely for a no-sugar cocktail (you might prefer some extra lime juice, which helps cut alcohol’s sharpness).
Gently smack your mint garnish before using. You think I’m kidding? Nope! We’re going to save one beautiful sprig of mint to garnish our drink. As a final touch, gently clap it between your hands to release some of those fragrant mint oils. Then, slide it into your drink with the top of the sprig staying above the surface. The fragrance will make your drink taste even more gloriously minty.
Add a dash or two of bitters: We were surprised to find Angostura bitters floating at the top of some of our Miami mojitos. I really like how they make a simple mojito taste subtly more complex. If you have bitters at home, it’s definitely worth a try.
Make it fruity: Muddle several slices of juicy, ripe fruit with your mint. For a tropical spin, try mango, pineapple or even kiwi. Or, you could try berries (strawberries, raspberries or blackberries), peaches or cherries. The sky’s the limit, really.
Try cucumber: Mojitos magically become even more refreshing when you muddle in a few chunks of peeled cucumber, as shown here.
Add basil and lemon: We’re getting pretty far from convention here, but I enjoyed this lemon-basil mojito variation.
More Classic Cocktails to Enjoy
Here are a few more refreshing cocktail recipes that are lovely on warm days. Check out my summer cocktails roundup for even more.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Total Time: 5 minutes
- Yield: 1 cocktail 1x
- Category: Cocktail
- Method: Stirred
- Cuisine: Cuban
Learn how to make classic mojitos at home with this foolproof recipe! These not-too-sweet mojitos are minty-fresh, fizzy and delicious. You’ll just need white rum, club soda, fresh lime and mint, and sugar. Recipe as written makes 1 cocktail.
- 1 ½ teaspoons sugar, to taste
- 4 leafy sprigs of fresh mint, each about 5 to 6 inches long
- 2 ounces white rum
- ¾ ounce lime juice
- Club soda or sparkling water (I like Topo Chico)
- Entirely optional: 1 to 2 drops of Angostura bitters
- 1 lime round, for garnish
- In a sturdy, heavy-bottomed, tall cocktail glass, add the sugar and 3 sprigs of the mint (we’ll reserve the last sprig for garnish).
- Muddle the mint with the sugar about 5 to 10 times, until the mint is very fragrant (not so much that the mint completely falls apart).
- Pour in the rum and the lime juice, and gently stir a few times to help dissolve the sugar. Fill the glass with ice.
- Fill the glass with club soda nearly to the top. Gently stir in a circular motion to combine, then use your spoon to drag some of the muddled mint higher up into the glass.
- Taste, and stir in more sugar if desired. Add a drop or two of bitters, if desired.
- To garnish, place the lime round in the glass. Gently clap the remaining sprig of mint between your palms (this releases some of the oils) and tuck it into your glass, leaving the top exposed. Serve cold, with a wide straw.
Measurement tips: If you’re working with standard measuring cups and spoons, two ounces is ¼ cup and ¾ ounce is 1 ½ tablespoons.