The refreshing and quaffable nature of the Mojito has rendered it a warm-weather favorite among drinkers. As fussy as it may be to make, a balanced Mojito is nearly impossible to hate—unless you’re a bartender making hundreds of the messy and time-consuming drink during a busy shift. The cocktail’s origin can be traced back to pre-Prohibition Cuba, where potent cane spirits (aka aguardientes) were tamed by the addition of lime juice, sugar and mint. The ice and soda water came into the mix around Prohibition and the years shortly after, at which point the drink took on the form we know today.
The Mojito marries the flavors of two popular classics at the time: the spirituous Mint Julep and the lime-laced Daiquiri. The blend of fresh citrus juice, aromatic mint, a lightly aged white rum and sugar became a category of its own and has since established itself as one of the most popular drinks in the world. For cocktail lovers looking to explore the sublime nature of the Mojito in its many flavors and forms, these are the riffs to try.
It’s exactly what it sounds like: a frozen Mojito. Frozen drinks can be finicky to make, so the most important detail to keep in mind here is the crushed ice. No mint is muddled in this drink, as mint syrup replaces the fresh herb for mixability’s sake, and the syrup is mixed with light rum and lime juice. It’s fairly straightforward to make but difficult to perfect, so make sure to measure everything properly and to use ingredients that are as cold as possible so as not to overdilute the crushed ice when it’s all blended together. (Pro tip: add an ounce of cream of coconut in there as well and thank us later.)
Grilled Pineapple Mojito
This riff on the Mojito comes from Johnny Swet, the co-owner and bartender of JIMMY at the ModernHaus hotel in New York City. Swet’s inspiration for this tropical Mojito stems from a visit to Mexico, where he enjoyed some tacos al pastor, which were topped with charred pieces of pineapple. His drink embraces a similar format to the tacos, sans meat. Mint gets muddled with agave nectar and lime juice in a Collins glass before being topped with pineapple juice, an aged Dominican rum and crushed ice, as well as grilled pineapple chunks. It’ll take your taste buds on a beachside summer holiday.
While spiking a watermelon with a bottle of booze is one lazy way to enjoy the summer fruit, there are more sophisticated ways to put watermelon to work: enter the Watermelon Mojito. It’s juicy, herbaceous and bright. Rather than employing the typical combination of rum, lime, sugar, mint and soda water, this version deviates from the standard template by swapping agave nectar for simple syrup and ditching the soda water altogether (which raises the question of whether it’s still really a Mojito, but we’ll let this one slide). Instead, watermelon chunks and mint leaves are muddled with lime juice and agave nectar to create a flavorful base, to which a lightly aged rum is added; the mix is shaken with ice and strained before being garnished with a lemon twist. Your best bet is to scale the recipe up and make a pitcher of this one, because this low-ABV Mojito is absolutely crushable.
The Mojito at the Amanyara resort on the Turks & Caicos island of Providenciales is a vivid green, as opposed to the cloudy mint-flecked classic version of the cocktail. Instead of muddling the mint with simple syrup, this riff blends the rum, mint, fresh lime juice and simple syrup together to yield a vibrant green hue that distributes the mint flavor throughout the cocktail more evenly. It’s all then topped with brut Champagne instead of club soda, a luxe way to add a bit more body and depth to the cocktail.Continue to 5 of 8 below.
Gin Gin Mule
This modern classic developed by legendary bartender Audrey Saunders of the late Pegu Club falls somewhere between a Moscow Mule and a Mojito. Gin lovers, this is the Mojito riff for you. It’s crafted with gin, lime juice, simple syrup and mint, and topped with a zippy homemade ginger beer. It’s one of those classics that’s greater than the sum of its parts, and appeals to both cocktail enthusiasts and casual drinkers alike.
Tequila lovers, we didn’t forget about you. This drink from the late chef and restaurateur Donna Scala captures the essence of the classic Mojito, but goes Gin Gin Mule in style. Reposado tequila is substituted for the rum, agave nectar replaces the simple syrup and ginger beer steps in for the club soda, adding a depth of flavor that pairs extraordinarily well with the aged tequila. The most important ingredient here will be the ginger beer. Quality is important, so make sure to use a craft one such as those made by Fever-Tree or Q Mixers.
Pineapple Vanilla Mojito
Not too dissimilar to the Grilled Pineapple Mojito, this riff is for the drinker whose palate skews sweeter. It sticks to the standard Mojito template, with just a few changes: Simple syrup is swapped out for agave nectar, vanilla liqueur is added for some additional sweetness and depth of flavor and pineapple is muddled alongside the usual mint leaves, resulting in a slightly sweet, crushable mix.
This Mojito variation was developed by Eden Laurin, a food and beverage consultant and a managing partner at Chicago’s iconic cocktail bar The Violet Hour. Her aim was to create a Mojito that could be enjoyed year-round, not just during the warm months. A spice-infused rum joins a splash of Licor 43, a Spanish liqueur flavored with vanilla, herbs and spices, and demerara syrup adds darkness and caramel notes. Lime juice, mint and soda water keep this spice-accented rendition recognizable as a Mojito.