Mojito. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

Mojito. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

I love the clean and pure daiquiri, nothing more than a rum sour. I love a mint julep for its power and herbal freshness. But one thing I don’t like is large fragments of leaves floating in my drink and ever threatening to catch on my front tooth mid-conversation.

I felt like a daiquiri last weekend and made some hastily. I wanted to perfect it. To get more depth from the sugar, I made a simple syrup of brown sugar (equal parts water and brown sugar, heated to dissolve the sugar, then cooled). I pulverized the mint in a mortar, then let the rum soak with it to infuse. Then I strained the rum through a cloth. I combined it all and topped it with sparkling water.

It seemed to me the perfect mojito, and still does.


  • 2.5 ounces rum
  • 20 to 30 mint leaves, ground to a paste in a mortar
  • 1 ounce lime juice (juice from half a lime)
  • 1 ounce brown sugar simple syrup
  • Seltzer water, as needed
  • Lime wedge for garnish
  1. Pour the rum over the mint in the mortar. Stir and let it sit for 5 or 10 minutes, then strain the rum through a cloth.
  2. Combine the rum, lime juice, and simple syrup in a highball glass. Fill the glass with ice, top with sparkling water, and garnish with the lime wedge.

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© 2013 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2013 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.



10 Wonderful responses to “Friday Cocktail Hour: The Perfect Mojito”

  • Kirk Samuels

    I’ve recently been using Agave syrup instead of simple syrup in cocktails like margaritas and mojitos. We really like it. Like the idea of a brown sugar syrup too. Will have to try. Great idea.

  • allen

    Straining is a great idea, green teeth is the polar opposite of a tied cherry stem, with regards to romantic appeal.
    Cheers, happy Friday all!

  • Wilma de Soto

    A true Cuban mojito is usually made with Yerba Buena, a trailing ground cover member of the mint family with smaller, rounded leaves. (Clinopodium douglasii) It adds a distinct flavor to the mojito that is quite pleasant. Guarapo, (sugar cane juice available at Latin markets), is usually used as well, although I think a simple syrup is fine.

    If you’re really hardcore you can purchase the seeds for this tropical minty ground cover from “Annie’s Annuals” for next season.


  • Mike Patterson

    I did a similar thing last weekend, when I was asked to make a large batch of mojitos for a party. I put a large buch of mint in a ziploc bag, and rolled it really well. Then I put the leaves into the pan where I was making the simple syrup, and let them steep that way for 10 minutes. After straining, I had a GREAT mint syrup that I guess you could add to anything, but that made a great batch of mojitos.

  • Tana Butler

    I’ve been making mint simple syrup for years, since I dislike the feeling of crush leaves in my mouth. It’s great in iced tea, too.

    • Carol Melancon

      Also great for mint juleps. For a garden party a couple of years ago, I made a huge batch of mint simple syrup and rented a snow cone machine – mint juleps for a crowd in a hurry.

  • Darren

    I’ve found that the best mojito is made with Myer’s platinum white rum. It’s good cheap stuff.

  • allen

    In keeping it clean, just in case the Baron von Schmaltz is reading this. Im being good, but can I drop the C in scmaltz if it’s silent? C’mon, you trying to make me cuss? Not gonna do it! But boy does that silent C make me want to. Who put that f$@#ing thing there! Godd$@m muthafu#&ing sh&@ fu”k pis& Fu”$! Fu”kun# silent C!
    I’m sorry, won’t forget the C, and will try not to swear.
    Fu$&!, where’s the bar of soap? Bleh!

  • Vic

    I just don’t share you love of pulverizing mint. The green drink tastes over-extracted and over-powering to me. The whole point of muddling is a gentle bruising, not a determined smashing. Um, excuse me, I have something in my teeth…

  • E. Nassar

    I am not on board with the whole pulverizing the herbs for a drink idea either. It gives the drink a dull oxidized taste as well. Gentle muddling-bruising is best. Follow it by straining properly and no one has green stuff in their teeth (hate that too) and the flavor is perfect.


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