Marvellous Mojitos:
the “official” recipe!

🕔 4 mins (total)
Fresh cocktail mojito with lime, mint and ice in summer on a terrace, Costa Brava.
Fresh mojito cocktail with rum, lime, mint, sugar and ice

First of all, let’s clear one thing up there is no one “official” mojito recipe – we were just trying to catch your attention! – just as there is no definite proof as to where the first mojito came from or who made it. But does it really matter? We think not!


It is, at least generally, agreed that a version of what was to become the mojito was first concocted towards the end of the 1500s, but by whom remains disputed to this day. Some sources claim it was by a privateer named Silvio Suarez Díaz from Bella Union, a town in what is present-day Uruguay that gets its name (“Beautiful Union”) from its location on the border with both Brazil and Argentina, forming a trifinio (a geographical point where the land borders of three countries converge).

Others say it was invented later by the English pirate Francis Drake, who was later knighted, not for possibly inventing the mojito, but rather for his “services” to his queen, Elizabeth I. Those services included African slave trading and the massacre on Rathlin Island of over 600 Irish and Scots, about 400 of whom were civilians, including women, children, and elderly.

We’re sure that Silvio Suarez Díaz was no angel either, but under the circumstances, we think we’ll give him the credit! In any case, it is possible that both of them “invented” a version of a mojito as, either way, the original recipe was almost certainly obtained from the indigenous inhabitants of the Caribbean who had remedies for various tropical diseases that included ingredients used in making mojitos today. It would later have been adapted to be less of a medicinal drink and more like the tropical cocktail beloved around the world today.

From burning water to the mojito

The original “mojito” is believed to have consisted of a low-quality type of sugarcane brandy known generally as aguardiente (or “burning water”, which was the predecessor to rum) mixed with limes, mint and sugarcane juice, all local ingredients. The lime juice contained Vitamin C that would help prevent scurvy and, along with the mint, which also helped combat cholera, stomach ailments such as indigestion, as well as the intense heat of the Caribbean, and the sugarcane juice, all would have rendered the foul “brandy” somewhat more palatable!

Over the centuries, tafia, a cheaply produced and unaged type of rum replaced the aguardiente, and later, from the 1860s on, with improvements in distillation techniques and the Cuban rum industry in general, higher-quality rum came to be used instead of the tafia, and the cocktail began to become known as “mojito”.


Playa de la Concha in Havana, Cuba, is generally credited with being the birthplace, in 1910, of the cocktail as we know it nowadays, and Havana was also where it was made internationally famous by a number of American celebrities in the 1920s and 1930s, most notably Ernest Hemingway, who travelled the short distance across from Florida to Cuba to escape the misery of Prohibition.

Today the mojito has become one of the world’s most popular cocktails, and there are dozens of creative ways it can be prepared. The basic recipe is very simple to make.


  • Rum – 80ml of a good quality white rum – or dark rum if you prefer!

  • Sugar – 4g / or preferably 30ml of sugar syrup

  • Lime juice – around 25ml

  • Fresh mint or spearmint – a couple of stems

  • Soda water – around 40-50ml, or according to taste

  • Ice – preferably crushed

  • Optional: a few drops of Angostura Bitters


  • First, put sugar or syrup in your glass with the lime juice and mix
    (If you prefer to use wedges of lime rather than just juice, mash these together with the syrup using a pestle – but don’t forget to leave enough space for your rum!)

  • Add the mint leaves and gently press using the pestle to release their aroma, but without crushing the leaves too much

  • Add the rum and stir in

  • Add the mineral water and mix well. We suggest adding the water a little at a time and tasting as you go. You don’t want your mojito to be too watery!

  • Fill the rest of the glass with the crushed ice

  • If desired, add the drops of Angostura Bitters

  • Present with a couple of mint leaves and a lime wedge on top for garnish


As mentioned, there are varying ways to prepare your mojito. Some people prefer to use dark rum rather than white, and some recipes suggest lemon instead of lime. Fresh mint or peppermint can be used, or both. The Angostura Bitters help reduce the sweetness for those who don’t like their mojito too sugary. Syrup rather than sugar also makes the sweetness easier to control. Using partially refined demerara brown sugar gives a hint of a caramel taste. There are also strawberry mojitos and even a “cojito” which uses a type of coconut rum.

Other spirits can be substituted for rum altogether, such as tequila or gin, and there are other cocktails like the mint julep, which is similar to a mojito but with bourbon instead of rum and without the lime. A caipirinha is a Brazilian version using cachaça (a spirit made from sugarcane) with lime and sugar but no mint or soda water. They’re all good, but sometimes the original is still the best! As the saying goes: “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?” (And as a wise man also once asked: “If it is broke, why fix it?!”)


Check out our other Mediterranean recipes for dishes to try at home.

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