Celebrating National Mojito Day - History & Mojito Variations

(Cover photo courtesy of Liquor.com)

National Mojito Day is celebrated on July 11th, but in reality, Mojitos can be and should be enjoyed all summer-long. Below you will find many different variations on this classic Cuban-born elixir along with it's history.

The Mojito (all muddled drinks for that matter) has been notorious for being a drink bartenders hate to make. It takes too much time to make (especially in a busy bar environment), it’s a pain to clean up and prepare, and it’s ordered in large quantities by drinkers (running out of mint can be a huge problem). Yet, the Mojito remains one of the most popular cocktails in the world, and for very good reason -  it’s a very good drink when mixed properly and loaded with fresh ingredients. It's all about ratio and proportion with this drink because there is little room for error since there aren't many ingredients.

Unlike other cocktails invented by bartenders demonstrating their creativity, the Mojito came about through a natural evolutionary process, progressing from a drink drank in the fields to a more sophisticated drink over the course of a century. The Mojito began in Cuba at a time when most rum was not very potable—fierce, funky and heavy with fusel oils and other noxious chemicals. How to fix this? Well, if you were a Cuban farmer with a bottle of cheap rum and a long night ahead, you would have used whatever diversions at hand to make it more palatable—a squeeze of lime, some sugar-cane juice, a handful of mint. Then it would go down just fine.

Fast-forward to Prohibition and Havana’s rise as America’s favorite offshore cocktail lounge: The Mojito migrated from the farms to working-class beaches around the Cuban capital and then marched inland. Here it was dolled up a bit, with the addition of carbonated water, lots of ice and a tall glass. Foreign visitors marveled at this cousin of the Mint Julep and the classic Daiquiri. There’s a basic recipe for the Mojito, but you should adjust it on the fly depending on the tartness of the limes, amount of sugar/sweetness, type of ice, the potency of the mint (always use spearmint) and the robustness of the rum. Light rum makes for a pleasingly refreshing beverage that demands little of you, but an aged rum can add complexity. Even just a small amount of a heavy Demerara rum will take it to a whole new dimension.

Learn to make the perfect Mojito, and your friends—not to mention your bartender—will love you for it.

 

Classic Mojito

The recipe for the Mojito is one of Cuba’s greatest treasures.

  • 6-8 Mint leaves
  • 3/4 oz Simple syrup (1:1)
  • 3/4 oz Freshly-pressed lime juice (about 2 round limes)
  • 1.5 oz White rum, preferably Rhum Barbancourt (Haiti) or Brugal Especial Extra Dry
  • 1.5 oz Chilled soda water
  • Garnish: 1 Mint sprig
  • Glass: Highball

Prep - In a shaker, smack and lightly muddle the mint (don't tear the mint) with the simple syrup, and lime juice. Add rum and fill with ice. Shake well and pour (unstrained) into a highball glass. Top with the club soda and garnish with a mint sprig.

 

Clementine Mojito

(Photo courtesy of JoLynne Shane)

  • 6 mint leaves
  • 1/2 oz Freshly squeezed clementine juice
  • 1/2 oz Lime-simple syrup (recipe below)
  • 1.5 oz Blue Chair Bay White rum (fruity notes)
  •  Garnish: Clementine wedges
  •  Glass: Highball

Prep - Make the lime-simple syrup by bringing to a just a boil ¼ cup sugar, ¼ cup water and 1 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice. Allow it to cool to room temperature, and store in your refrigerator until ready to use. Keeps for 2 weeks. Muddle mint, clementine juice, lime-simple syrup in a mixing glass. Add rum and ice. Shake well and pour contents (unstrained) into a highball glass. Garnish clementine wedges.

 

Strawberry-Lemon Mojito

(Photo courtesy of Modern Magazine)

  • 3 lemon wedges plus 1 for garnish
  • 8 mint leaves plus 1 mint sprig for garnish (optional)
  • 2 strawberries quartered, plus 1 halved strawberry for garnish
  • 1.5 oz Aged rum, like Rhum Barbancourt or Brugal Especial
  • 1/2 oz Freshly-lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz sugarcane syrup or agave nectar syrup (1:1 water to nectar)
  • Float chilled soda water
  • Glass - Tulip

Prep - Muddle the lemon wedges,strawberries and mint leaves with lemon juice. Add ice and rum and agave syrup. Shake well. Strain into ice–filled highball glass. Garnish by dropping in the fruit and mint.

 

Watermelon Mojito

  • 6-8 mint leaves
  • 4 cubes of seedless watermelon or 1/2 cup of watermelon cubes pureed
  • 2 tablespoons superfine sugar (not simple syrup for this one)
  • 1/2 oz Freshly-squeezed lime juice
  • 1.5 oz Light rum, preferable a fruity-based rum like Cruzan
  • 1.5 oz Chilled soda water
  • Garnish - 1 mint sprig
  • Glass - Highball

Prep - Muddle the mint, watermelon or add watermelon puree, sugar and lime juice in a mixing glass. Add the rum and ice. Shake well and pour (unstrained) into a highball glass. Garnish mint sprig.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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