How to make a mojito

Cocktails with Chris

Chris Markham, Director of Print

The mojito is the delicious national drink of Cuba. Rum, mint, sugar, lime and soda. It really doesn’t get any better than this drink. If you like mint, you’re all but guaranteed to like the mojito.

The mojito is the quintessential rum cocktail, but you have to make it right. Unfortunately, it takes a bit of effort, but I can assure you that it is more than worth it.

In my mind, the most important part of making your mojito, is, by far, your mint. If at all possible, do yourself a favor and get some fresh mint leaves and a muddler. If you can’t acquire actual mint, you can use mint syrup, often used for coffee. But if you can, go get some actual mint leaves. You won’t regret it. 

If you are indeed using mint leaves, a muddler is critical––that’s what you’ll use to get the flavors out of your mint and into your drink. Before you muddle your mint, make sure your other liquid ingredients are in your glass with it. You want those essential oils to disperse throughout the liquid. 

If you don’t have a muddler, try using any other blunt object in your kitchen. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so get creative and use what you can. Don’t try to shortcut the process and skip the muddling, you’ll just end up cheating yourself. 

When you muddle the mint, make sure you press your muddler into the mint leaves to extract the mint’s essential oils. Just be careful not to twist your muddler much, because then you risk tearing the mint and imparting some unpleasant vegetal flavors into your drink. 

The mojito has a neat history to it, and like the mint in the drink itself, it’s a little muddled. We know that it was invented in Cuba but we aren’t quite sure exactly how.

One popular theory is that way back in the 16th century the English privateer Sir Francis Drake invented a drink called “El Draque” that was similar to a mojito. Created to ward off scurvy among his crew, El Draque contained mint, lime, sugar and aguardiente, a sort of precursor to rum made from sugar cane.

In the 17th century, slaves in the Caribbean started taking molasses, a byproduct of sugar production, and making it into rum. Rum soon became popular throughout the Caribbean, making its way to Cuba. 

In 1862, Don Facundo Bacardi Masso founded Bacardi Limited and started producing rum in Cuba. The company claims that, soon afterwards, Bacardi rum was used to replace aguardiente to make the first modern mojito. 

While originally a Cuban company, Bacardi fled the island after the Cuban Revolution, now producing their rum in Puerto Rico. With the continuing political and trade tensions between the US and Cuba, this makes it the closest thing to Cuban rum that most Americans can use.

Maybe someday, we’ll be able to legally buy Cuban rum in the United States, but until then, any white rum will certainly get the job done for your mojitos, though Bacardi Superior white rum is your best bet for that authentic Cuban taste. There are certainly better white rums out there, such as Don Q and Plantation, but the tradition behind Bacardi adds a little something special to the experience. Really whatever rum you use, if you’re making a mojito, you’re bound to have a good time in the end.


2 ounces white rum

1 ounce fresh lime juice (3/4 ounce if using bottled*)

1/2 ounce simple syrup**

5 to 7 mint leaves***

4-ish ounces club soda


  1. Add mint, simple syrup, lime juice and rum to your glass
  2. Muddle the ingredients****
  3. Add ice your glass and stir until sufficiently chilled  
  4. Add club soda and give a quick stir to mix everything together
  5. Enjoy responsibly 

*While there’s nothing wrong with using bottled lime juice, in my experience, it tends to have a harsher flavor than fresh-squeezed juice, so I like to dial back the amount of juice I use if I’m using bottled.

**To make simple syrup, combine equal parts sugar and water into a pot and heat up until the sugar is dissolved. This standard ratio will last about four weeks in the refrigerator. I like to use what’s called a rich simple syrup by using two parts sugar to one part water, which will last for about six months in the refrigerator.

***If you don’t have mint leaves, try swapping out the mint and simple syrup for 3/4 ounce of mint syrup.

****If you don’t have a muddler, any blunt object will do the trick. In the past, I’ve used the end of an ice cream scoop and the back of large plastic spoons.