How to Muddle a Mojito

February 11th, 2008

Mojito Recipe

Mojito Recipe

Mojito. Not too long ago, I discovered this refreshing, minty, sweet, ice cold cocktail. In a pursuit of perfection, I have spent countless hours on a quest for something to satisfy every taste bud in my mouth. As a result, I found this classic Cuban cocktail and have since made it my summer beverage of choice. Don't get me wrong, I have many favorite adult beverages, but we will save that for another post.

I know some of you are thinking, why this summer lush in middle of February? Yesterday in celebration of couple of friends' birthdays, we decided to try out a Cuban restaurant on the Coast Highway. It was a very warm winter day, even for San Diego's standards. The smell of the food was permeating, as was the live Cuban music in the background. The company was great, so naturally the only thing that can enhance the mood even more would be a mojito. It seemed to be the perfect place for the perfect drink. However, what I got was a mojito suitably lavish on the lime and the mint but a sub par on flavor. Perhaps it was the [bad] luck of the draw, so I ordered another while singing in my head "Wish I was a baller, wish I was taller..."thinking that my luck would change. But to no avail; something was not right and I was baffled. Cubans are prided on their exotic creations and spicy girls. Who made these drinks? Joe Schmoe? It's not like I am ordering this drink at a dance club or a sports bar; there is no big line at the bar so I shouldn't have to worry about the bartender lacking on the dose of love being put into the muddling process. I tip for more TLC Papi. I mean this is a traditional Cuban restaurant and the food was great so the last thing I expected was a disappointment on the mojito.

The Basics of Mojito

A traditional mojito is made of five ingredients: rum, mint, sugar, lime juice, and club soda. Muddling is a gentle but thorough bruising of fruit and the herb with sugar at the bottom of a glass. This process helps to release juice and the essential oils. The combination of the refreshing citrus, the sweetness, and the strong mint flavor is used to mask the potency of the rum. To many, it may seem like an intricate cocktail to create but really, it’s quite simple and worth all that extra effort as it produces a great reward.

How to Muddle A Mojito

You can use a muddler, a pestle or even the end of a rolling pin for this procedure. Push down the muddler with a twisting action, press firmly but slowly and in a controlled fashion. Add all the pressure you want, but don't break down the ingredients into mush or bits. Crushing, smashing, piercing, or pounding is not needed; think bruise and press. Not enough muddling will leave you with a drink that seems like a waste of time and too much may release bitterness found in some of the fruit and herbs. Again, you want to release essential oils, fruit juice, and the delicious flavors but not make mashed ingredients.

The muddler should not be made of aluminum or any other reactive material for that matter (or be a nosy person that tries to take credit for everything-JK). Plastic is also not a good choice as some fruit bleed color and will stain your tool. Wood is a good choice and it should have a flat end rather than a round tip because you get more surface area in contact with the fruit and the mint. If you don’t do enough regular muddling to necessitate a muddler or cannot find other tools mentioned above in your kitchen, I recommend using a spoon against the side of the glass, almost like mushing the mint leaf.

How to muddle a Mojito

Mojito Ingredients

2 large sprig spearmint
Couple wedges of juicy lime
2 tea spoon of sugar
2 oz white rum
Ice - crushed is best, small cubed is okay too
Club soda

The Procedure

  1. Place a sprig worth of mint leaves, sugar, and a wedge of lime in a tall glass. Tall highball glass preferred.
  2. Muddle with love (and Cubanness) .
  3. Add crushed ice, rum, and stir well to dissolve sugar to your liking.
  4. Top off with club soda and stir lightly to incorporate.
  5. Garnish with fresh sprig of mint and an wheel of lime.
  6. Slowly sip your labor of love, enjoy the way the flavors meld over time. Do not chug down in less time than it took you to make it.

Mojito Making Tips:

  • Many mojito recipes call for simple syrup, but I find sugar to be better for muddling. The pointy crystals of sugar act as an abrasive medium which increase the efficiency of the muddle.
  • Use crushed ice when making this beverage. The extra surface area of crushed ice will make your drink cool quicker. Plus crushed ice melts faster, which is a good thing for a drink with strong flavors.
  • Mojito should be made with dry white rum. Do not use dark, gold or spiced rum. Just like most cocktails, quality of booze does matter (as much as the motion of the ocean).
  • Do not use pre-made mojito mix out of a bottle. This is a cocktail that you cannot substitute ingredients for convenience. From the start 100% hand-made, 100% more enjoyable.
  • If you don't want tiny pieces of mint floating in your drink, you can strain the contents into ice-filled glass, and garnish with fresh mint and lime to serve. I like mine dirty like my... well never mind.
  • And last but not least, I encourage you to grow your own mint so you can make this any time :) Mint is easy to grow, and fool proof at that. All you need to do is to save the thick stems, remove the leaves, and bury them in a pot of dirt(rinse before making a mojito). It should form roots in about a week or so. Give it lots of sunshine and water before you know, you will have fresh mint at your finger tips. If you live by a nursery, you can pick up a mini and get a jump start. Just be careful, mint is an invasive plant and it will take over the entire garden if you are not careful. If you want to plant it in your yard, bury the pot so that the root does not spread wild. Spearmint and apple mint are my two favorite choices for mojito.

This is making me thirsty, I think I will make a mojito. ADIOS!

28 Responses to “How to Muddle a Mojito”

  1. Julia RoyNo Gravatar Says:

    I was a bartender for a few years, and I HATED making mojitos. But damn are they good. Your recipe is dead on. :)

  2. Organic GuyNo Gravatar Says:

    I don’t know how to make mojitos but I sure know how to drink them! Great recipe.

  3. Mint Julep | Kentucky Derby Mint Julep | Make a Mint Julep Says:

    […] of you know that I love minty drinks, Mojito, Caipirinha and of course Mint Julep. Well it’s that time of the year; the Kentucky Derby is […]

  4. DJRNo Gravatar Says:

    Great recipe!

    Couple of comments: Your comments about the quality of the rum are extremely important! Good rum means NOT GRAIN NEUTRAL SPIRITS and certainly NOT BACARDI! My favorite is Patron’s Pyrat Silver which I think is no longer in production but Matusalem Silver and or Barbancourt are both great options.

    Other thing is that we have been making them with Wholefoods 365 Key Lime Soda versus club soda which has been a real crowd pleaser for us. I still like them with Club Soda but the variety is nice!

  5. adminNo Gravatar Says:


    Wholefoods 365 Key Lime Soda has been duly noted, thanks for the tip. The mint is starting to take over the planter and could use a little trim. Will be trying it out with the Key Lime Soda very soon.

    Matusalem Silver and or Barbancourt both available at BevMo?

    I will be posting a Caipirinha recipe very soon, dont forget to subscribe to the update :) Thanks for reading.

  6. Duncan McLeodNo Gravatar Says:

    Please, whatever you do – don’t add Fee Brothers Mint Bitters! I went into a friends bar as he was experimenting with some of the Fee Brothers range and he thought it a good idea to add the bitters. Just tasted wrong. It had an odd minty ice cream flavour to it.

    Also I’m not an advocate of Sugar Cane syrup either. The mouthfeel is too cloying – not what you need in a Mojito. But to each their own, eh?

  7. BillNo Gravatar Says:

    Try key limes, ‘tho I don’t know how available they are outside south Florida. Yummie.

  8. CAgirlNo Gravatar Says:

    The bartender at Palazzo Giuseppe’s, in San Luis Obispo, makes an excellent Mango Mojito. I ordered three on friday! He serves them in a martini glass rimmed with sugar. The food, drinks, and local beauty of SLO are well worth the drive up north for a weekend get away. The chef at Giuseppe’s, Richard Wirz, was recently named in California’s Central Coast Magazine as one of the ten top chef’s in the area.

  9. JensNo Gravatar Says:

    Really great and thorough explanation, this recipe is quite the only you need in order to make a mojito.

  10. Fumi MatsubaraNo Gravatar Says:

    Thanks Jens! Many many mojitos were made and consumed in the name of a blog post ;) Enjoy your mojito!

  11. swagNo Gravatar Says:

    Step 1 mentions the lime juice, but lime juice is omitted from the ingredient list. How much lime juice do you use? I assume fresh squeezed is preferred?

  12. shaji akkalNo Gravatar Says:

    its great bartenter in maldives universal resorts.i allways recomented time i recoment fruit based mojitto

  13. spicypickleNo Gravatar Says:

    Great recipe! Though I’d never heard of adding club soda at the end.
    p.s. I like mine dirty, too. ;)

  14. adminNo Gravatar Says:

    Thank you! Mojito season is just around the corner too! Or is it mojito season all year long where you are? :)

  15. PatinaNo Gravatar Says:

    just had a cucumber Majito..great.. slice of cuke in drink and one slice as garnish..

  16. adminNo Gravatar Says:

    Sounds great Patina! cucumber muddled with jin is also pretty good too! Thanks for reading and posting, enjoy!

  17. Jo JoNo Gravatar Says:

    so funny! was looking online for a good cuban recipe to make dinner for my parents, and you popped up!! this is on page one of google results for “cuban recipes.” you must know some good seo peeps :) ha ha.

  18. John H.No Gravatar Says:

    Great Mojito recipie. Simple, and yet the narrative was a fun read. After 3 mojitos, it was quite comical actually. And to boot, the mojitos were fantastic. Thanks!

  19. Bob StinsonNo Gravatar Says:

    As a purist there are 2 errors in your recipe- This drink requires the juice of 1 whole lime.About an Oz.
    second you need to use dry white rum ,it should be “Havana Club” Silver Dry . Hard to find but if you travel out of the US it can be found at most Duty Free shops. Or in Cuba it can be purchased for $3.85for 750ml
    I suggest you use the raw sugar avaliable at most Mexican grocery stores and I use 4 sprigs of mint.
    I suggest you travel to Havana and take a seat at any bar ,order a Mohito and watch how the bartender prepares it. They’re very proud of the Mohitos in Cuba!

  20. Greg BellNo Gravatar Says:

    I have spent the past week struggling to find the right balance between sweetness, mint and lime for my pineapple and saffron mojito. In the end I made a mint granita and used that instead of crushed ice. It worked a treat.

  21. john attwoodNo Gravatar Says:

    i have tons of italian mint and like to use gin in the mojtos…refreshing for english italian peiple thanx

  22. adminNo Gravatar Says:

    Awesome John, sounds delish will be trying that soon. Thanks for reading and sharing!!

  23. Brad BeachNo Gravatar Says:

    Authentic Cuban Mojito / Auténtico Mojito Cubano

  24. igbgNo Gravatar Says:

    I’ve only had bottled mojito and I’m definitely missing out. I’ll have to make one of these on a hot summer day. Maybe I’ll try it out at a barbeque.

  25. GeoffNo Gravatar Says:

    Nice, thanks.
    Better to use organic lime, though. Pesticides accumulate in the skin and they taste really better.

  26. Charles ChuckNo Gravatar Says:

    For a truly authentic recipe the rum has to be Havana Club 3 year-old.

  27. RussNo Gravatar Says:

    Well, thought I’d try a Canadian spin on it. Maple Syrup (2 tsp), Ragged Rock (amber) Rum from Newfoundland, and my home grown Mojito mint. I like it!

  28. adminNo Gravatar Says:

    Is Havana Club 3 years relatively easy to get?

Leave a Reply