When you have a reason to celebrate, sometimes a refreshing cocktail is just what the moment calls for. While tropical flavors remind us of the vibrant sunsets and simmering heat of summer, a well-mixed mojito can help transport you to slow evenings on a Caribbean island.
With their earthy flavors, mojitos live at the top of our favorite cocktails list. While nothing beats a traditional mojito, some mojito variations (like strawberry mojitos) can help spice up an old classic.
The Mojito: A Classic (and Sugary) Cocktail
Like most alcoholic beverages, the origins of the mojito are muddled by history and perhaps a little bit of liquor. Although there are many accounts describing different origins of this summer cocktail, one of the most prevalent is that of Sir Francis Drake, the British pirate.
The Mojito’s Been Around for a While
According to beverage lore, Sir Francis Drake and his men were sailing near Cuba when they were struck with scurvy and dysentery. Relying on the belief that the Cuban natives had the cure for these diseases, the men invaded Havana in the 1500s.
As the story goes, some of the crew returned with a curious mix of ingredients: mint leaves, sugar cane, lime juice, and aguardiente, which is a Cuban rum that preceded white rum. The men supposedly drank this concoction to help stave off the symptoms of their diseases, and the islanders called the drink “El Draque.”
Some say that the drink’s name changed to “mojito” because of enslaved African people that lived in Cuba. A popular term among the enslaved people was “mojo,” which loosely translates to “magic” or “spell-casting.” As you can see, the name evolved from there into what it is today.
As happens with all truths lost to time, there are variations on this story and even claims of other origins entirely. However, all stories agree that the mojito originated in Cuba. Eventually, the development of Bacardi rum and bitters in the late 1800s made the classic cocktail what it is today.
An American Invasion
The drink remained in Cuba until American Prohibition, which lasted from 1920 to 1933. During this time, the government outlawed alcoholic beverages.
However, many citizens were accustomed to their cocktails, and Havana became an alcohol-friendly oasis. The Cuban natives served mojito cocktails to the tourists, and the drink made its way back to the States once Prohibition ended.
Ernest Hemingway was a vocal fan of the mojito. The author even penned the famous words, “My mojito in La Bodeguita, my daiquiri in La Floridita,” to commemorate his favorite bar, La Bodeguita del Medio.
Soon, the drink exploded in popularity, and evolved to become what it is today. Later on, the 2000 James Bond film titled Die Another Day featured this tropical rum cocktail.
Which Ingredients Are in a Typical Mojito?
Although there are many variations on the mojito that feature fruity twists like mango and strawberry, the base ingredients of a typical mojito remain the same. A classic mojito recipe includes these ingredients:
- White rum
- Fresh lime juice
- Sugar or simple syrup
- Soda water
Some of these ingredients can be changed up, such as swapping pre-packaged mint leaves for fresh mint leaves or sprigs or substituting club soda for soda water. Traditionally, a mojito is served in a highball glass with the ice of your choice and can be garnished with a sprig of mint or a lime wedge.
Why So Much Sugar?
Mojitos are well-known for their crisp flavors, but they have one of the highest sugar and carbohydrate contents of any cocktail. That classic mojito sweetness comes at a price.
Mojitos made with simple syrup or sugar are typically either too sweet to be palatable, or they overcompensate for their sweetness by increasing the other ingredients. This can create a higher alcohol content and a generally bolder drink.
Plus, using cane sugar can create a grainy (and unpleasant) texture.
Is There a More Delicious Way To Make a Mojito? (Hint: Yes)
Do you have a hard time enjoying mojitos because of their saccharine overtones? Unfortunately, sometimes the overbearing sweetness can cover up the delicate and crisp flavors that mojitos are known for.
Here’s a mojito cocktail recipe with a quick prep time that delivers all of the tasteful complexity without the sugar content.
Step One: Muddle the Fresh Mint
The first step to making the best mojito is to muddle your mint in the bottom of your shaker. While you can use fresh mint leaves from the grocery store, we recommend sourcing locally grown mint when possible.
This helps support the environment, as well as your local community. Additionally, locally grown herbs can sometimes take on unique and complex flavors from the soil, which is a concept called terroir.
You can muddle the mint with a dedicated muddler or even a wooden spoon. The main purpose of this step is to crush the mint leaves and express their oils for a stronger, more herbal aroma and flavor.
Step Two: Add Ice, Rum, and Lime
Next, it’s time to add in the liquor. While you can add all of these ingredients to taste and end up with a delicious Caribbean cocktail, our mixologists recommend using one ounce of white rum, one ounce of lime juice, and ice to taste for a well-balanced drink.
You can technically use any rum for your mojito, but white or silver rum is typically recognized as the best rum for mojitos.
Step Three: Top With Guava Citra Hard Kombucha
Thanks to our kombucha, this mojito will be perfectly balanced, with just the right amount of refreshing fruitiness. The notes in this cocktail will remind you of the mojito’s tropical origins in a way that perfectly encapsulates summer.
Step Four: Add a Fresh Mint Garnish To Top Things Off
No drink is complete without a garnish. In fact, a garnish is as much a part of a cocktail as any other ingredient.
We recommend adding fresh mint or lime to garnish your cocktail. Simply pluck the leaves off the bottom of a sprig of fresh mint and drop it into your glass. For extra effect, serve this cocktail in a highball glass with an ice sphere and cocktail straw.
The Tropical Hops Variety Pack: A Mixologist’s Best Friend
Our Guava Citra Hard Kombucha is the best way to twist up an old classic. As an added bonus, this kombucha comes in a variety pack that will open up your mixology perspective to new flavors and tangy combinations.