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Classic Mojito with Mint Simple Syrup Recipe

by Lorraine Thompson on August 13, 2010

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When I think about my summer romance with this tall Cuban cocktail, I hear the Black Eyed Peas’ lyrics, “… you’re so 2000 and late…”

As the mother of two teens and a young adult, I’m resigned to retrograde status. So, yes, I admit I came late to mojitos. The cocktail’s popularity peaked several years ago.

But really. Classic cocktails don’t go out of style, do they? This cooling mix of mashed mint, lime juice and white rum isn’t going to “go gentle into that good night”—just because the mixological crowd moves on to the next shiny cocktail shaker.

You’ll find lots of mojito recipe variations. Sweeteners range from pure sugar cane juice, to simple syrup to granulated sugar.

mint-in-gardensqueezed-lime-juice

My extra minty mojito incorporates a mint-infused simple syrup.

mint-simple-syrup-475

But in a twist on the “dirty mojito,” I also add a tiny bit of Demerara sugar to the mint leaves as I muddle. I find this extra grit helps release more of the mint leaves’ flavorful essential oils—and the raw sugar also adds just a hint of molasses to the drink.

mint-sugarmuddling-mint-and-sugar

Classic Mojito recipe

For each mojito you will need:

A handful of fresh mint leaves, about ¼ cup
Pinch of Demerara or raw sugar
1 jigger Mint Simple Syrup, see recipe below
1 jigger white rum
Juice of one lime, strained
Sparkling water, preferably San Pellegrino
Cracked ice
Lime slices and sprig of mint for garnish

  1. Set aside one mint sprig for garnish. Wash and pat-dry remaining mint leaves, removing stems.
  2. Squeeze and strain lime juice.
  3. Place remaining mint in a tall glass and add sugar. Using a bartender’s wooden muddler or the end of a wooden spoon, muddle the mint and sugar, mashing it gently to release the mint’s oils.
  4. Add Mint Simple Syrup, rum and lime juice. Stir to blend.
  5. Fill glass with cracked ice. Add sparkling water to fill glass. Stir gently and garnish with a lime slice and sprig of mint.

Serves 1.

Mint Simple Syrup Recipe

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 packed cup of mint leaves

  1. Wash, pick over and chop mint leaves, removing stems.
  2. Combine chopped mint leaves, sugar and water in a medium sauce pan.
  3. Bring syrup to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 1-2 minutes. Turn off flame and let syrup cool to room temperature.
  4. Strain syrup and store in airtight container in refrigerator.

Makes about 1 cup.

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karen August 13, 2010 at 6:09 pm

When we were in South Beach a few years ago, I had the bestest Mojito. Ever. Actually I think that was the first time I ever had Mojito. And the reason I say it was the bestest is because I had many Mojitos since then and none compared to the one I had in South Beach.

I wondered why it was so difficult for restaurants and bars to make one like the one I had the first time and I figured out that it was the brand of rum and the amount of mint leaves they used. The one I had in South Beach was almost packed with mint leaves - 1/2 of the cup was filled with muddled and whole mint leaves.

So when I make it at home, I use the best rum I have in the house and lots and lots of mint - which is growing like weed in my garden right now.

Thanks for the recipe. It brought me back to South Beach where I had my first Mojito.

Lorraine Thompson August 16, 2010 at 6:07 am

Hi Karen: Yes, a good rum is important–and it should be white rum. While I love dark rums like Meyers, their molassesy taste overpowers this drink’s mint and lime flavors. And you’re right about using A LOT of mint. When drinking a good mojito, you should get a mouthful of mint leaves with every sip!

shayma August 23, 2010 at 4:46 am

they absolutely do not. could a G&T ever go out of style? my *fave*. love the vibrancy of this mojito. x shayma

sarah buck July 7, 2011 at 6:24 pm

What a wonderful website!!!
Re: mojito: I add some sweetened coconut to the mix. Like about a tablespoon or two. I do not add water; just straight lime (a half jigger) and mango juices (two and a half jiggers), with some rum (a jigger, plus). I don’t have enough money to do the white rum. I also eat the mint leaves in between sips. It is so cooling. My kids tell me I have down to an art and I should sell it at a lemonade stand. LOL

Lorraine Thompson July 7, 2011 at 7:45 pm

@Sarah: Sounds like liquid ambrosia. I would definitely buy from your lemonade stand…

Nicki July 11, 2011 at 8:44 pm

Great recipe! Destined to become a favorite for sippin’ next to the pool.

Karen September 1, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Karen…thats funny…my very first Mojito was also in South Beach about 5 years ago and no other has compared…but I am going to try my hand at it once more…

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