Fresh mint, crushed ice, zesty lime – we’re all familiar with the flavours of the Cuban mojito. But to make it right, you’ve got to learn some of the bartending hacks behind this iconic cocktail.
Long, cool and refreshing all year round, the Cuban-born mojito is known and loved all over the world. Whether you’re a budding (or working) bartender or if you just want to push the boat out for a party, this simple cocktail is always a huge hit – especially when it’s done right. So here is our ultimate mojito recipe, blending essential mojito ingredients with expert bartending tips.
Picking the right mojito ingredients is just as important as using the right techniques. Freshly squeezed lime is a must, else the cocktail will taste pretty bland. It goes without saying, a killer mint mojito needs the freshest mint leaves (the greener the better). And of course, the best rum for mojitos is always light rum, like Bacardi or Havana Club.
(Makes 1 cocktail)
A highball glass
1 generous scoop of crushed ice
4 lime wedges
20ml (¾ oz) sugar syrup
8-12 mint leaves (+ extra for garnish)
60ml (2oz) light rum
A few dashes of soda water (just to top the glass up)
Put the mint leaves and lime wedges into your highball glass. If you don’t have a highball to hand, any tall sturdy glass will do. Next, start ‘muddling’ the ingredients. This is essentially ‘mashing’ them together to release their flavours. If you don’t have a muddler, you can use a wooden spoon, or something with a flat-ish surface. Important tip: don’t over-muddle the mint. Muddle it just enough to release the flavours but don’t mash the life out of it or turn it into a paste. This will make the drink bitter and unpleasant.
Next, fill the glass to the rim with crushed ice, leaving a tiny bit of space for a top up later. This is a staple of any mojito recipe, and shouldn’t be switched for cubed if you can help it. Crushed ice has a big surface area, so it cools every drop of the cocktail much faster than cubed does – which is partly what makes the mojito so refreshing. If you can’t find pre-crushed ice, you can crush it yourself in a blender (if the blender can handle it), or wrap it in a clean tea towel and give it a few whacks.
Pour your rum over the ice. As we said earlier, the best rum for a mojito is definitely a light rum. You want something light and refreshing that will complement the citrus and mint. Picking the wrong rum could mess up the drink, so choose wisely. For an authentic Cuban mojito, go for a Havana Club light rum. Or for a classic flavour, use Bacardi.
Add the sugar syrup. In a traditional Cuban mojito, they would’ve used granulated sugar. But this always made for an inconsistent drink with a sugarless upper half and a crunchy layer on the bottom – not nice. Now, bartenders around the world have evolved the mojito recipe by swapping cane sugar for sugar syrup. This guarantees a perfectly blended and balanced drink, every time.
Give it a stir with a long bar spoon, using the flat disc at the bottom to churn up all the ingredients. If you use a normal spoon, the ingredients might not merge together properly. Once you’re happy it’s all mixed (and if there’s enough room), top off your mojito with a mound of crushed ice. Finish it off by taking a sprig of fresh mint, clapping it between your hands to release the oils, and placing it on top of your cocktail.
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