Walk into any bar in Miami and, chances are, you'll find a mojito on the menu — or, at the very least, a bartender who can make you a mojito. This classic cocktail, made with fresh mint, lime juice, sugar, rum, and seltzer, is about as Miami as it gets. Perhaps that's because it's also the ideal antidote to the Florida heat.
There are plenty of variations — Thai basil and lemongrass make this already refreshing sipper even more so, a splash of Campari adds bitterness for a more complex cocktail, and muddled grilled pineapple is a slightly sweeter take — but we're partial to the original.
The recipe isn't complicated, but there are a few things worth paying attention to — and they'll make the difference between a meh-jito and an amazing one.
The Best Way to Make a Mojito, According to Miami Bartenders
Who knows better how to make a mojito than a Miami bartender? We chatted up a few to find out the very best way to make this classic cocktail. Here's what they had to say.
Start with fresh mint.
The most important thing to get that fresh and minty flavor is, well fresh mint. "It should be clean, it should be green, and it should be fresh," says Benjamin Collins, the general manager at Pawn Broker.
You don't want to go overboard, though — somewhere between five and 10 leaves is the magic number — and you also don't want to over-muddle. Use a light hand with your muddler, or skip it all together and just slap or twist the mint leaves, then drop them into the bottom of the cocktail shaker.
Use white rum.
A mojito should be made with white rum. Period. Everyone has a go-to brand. For Collins, it's Don Q Cristal; for Nikos Mantzaridis, head bartender at Gin + Collins, it's Bacardi Superior. But choose a dark rum at your own risk.
Don't get complicated with your sweetener.
Simple syrup is the sweetener of choice for Mantzaridis and most bartenders we talked to. "I don't want other flavors to cover the sugarcane flavor of the rum," he explains. For Collins, it's simple syrup or agave, cut with some water (about 60 percent agave to 40 percent water).
You want your drink to be cold and you want it cold now. Give your ingredients a good, hard shake and the pour the liquid over a glass packed with ice. Crushed ice is classic, but melts more quickly than bigger cubes. Your best bet is to really pack that ice in there — or, if you're not a stickler for tradition, use larger cubes.
Finish with a splash of soda.
Club soda, Perrier, San Pellegrino — whatever your preference or whatever you have on hand — a splash of bubbles will give it crispiness.
10 fresh mint leaves, plus 1 sprig for garnish
1 1/2 ounces white rum
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
3/4 ounce simple syrup
Club soda, preferably chilled
Slap or twist 5 of the mint leaves and place in a cocktail shaker. Muddle gently. Add ice, white rum, lime juice, and simple syrup. Shake vigorously.
Slap or twist the remaining 5 mint leaves and place in a Collins glass. Fill the glass with crushed ice. Strain the cocktail into the glass. Top with club soda and garnish with a sprig of mint.