Straight from Cuba, this Mojito recipe is 100% authentic. Learn the real ingredients from Cuban bartenders in Havana. And what makes these famous cocktails the real deal!
Classic mojitos are the very essence of beach cocktails. Rum drinkers around the world have treasured them for centuries. These bar drinks have quenched thirsty travelers and people on vacation for decades...
Classic Mojito Recipe (Real Cuban Mojito)
Cuba is renowned for its aged rum and hand-rolled cigars made by the Cuban people. And have been for hundreds of years. Here is how you use good rum to make a real mojito...
This mint mojito recipe makes one cocktail. The recipe card will scale up if you click the quantity box, to make a batch of cocktails for a pitcher of mojitos!
- white cane sugar (granulated sugar)
- fresh lime juice
- fresh mint leaves on long mint sprigs - (spearmint or yerba buena mint)
- white rum - good US or Puerto Rican brand Cubans typically use Havana Club 3 year white rum (labeled añejo blanco 3 años)
- aromatic bitters Angostura brand is the best
- sparkling water (or club soda)
- Mojito glasses & muddler (a small wooden spoon work fine)
Mojito Recipe Instructions
Step 1: In each glass: add 2 teaspoons of white cane sugar and the fresh lime juice of half a lime wedge. In Cuba, they don't place the lime into the glass, just the lime juice!
The bartenders in a Cuban bar won't leave a lime in your glass. As the lime peel turns the drink a little bit bitter.
STEP 2: Next place one long mint stem into each glass and simply muddle, push down, and twist the stem.
PRO TIP: Muddle, simply push down and twist the bottom of the mint stems. NOT THE LEAVES into the sugar and lime juice. This way, you don't get a strong bitter taste when you over-muddle the mint leaves, AND they stay pretty and green not brown and bruised!
This top bar tip comes from the Cantineros (bartenders) we met on our trip and my good friend Abel who is a Cuban travel guide, and trust me, he knows a thing or two about mojitos!
I found a box of these glasses in the city of Havana in a shop, with the Havana Club name on them. The perfect mojito glass, cheers!
STEP 3: Next, add 1 ½-2 shots of white rum, and 3 drops of aromatic bitters.
STEP 4: Add a few ice cubes. By the way, The Cuban way is to not add a lot of ice. Next, pour in sparkling water (or club soda), mint garnish, stir, and sip!
Note: This mint mojito recipe makes one cocktail. The recipe card will scale up to make batch cocktails for a pitcher of mojitos!
Mojitos start with good white rum, light yellow rum is ok. You want to not use dark or spiced rums, they bring way too much flavor. Let that mint and lime shine through!
Ideally, you want a Cuban rum. And it is not sold in the United States under the embargo. Buy a Puerto Rican rum with the Havana Club name.
The Havana Club name brand of rum dates to 1934. Originally produced, by family-owned José Arechabala S.A., in Cárdenas, Cuba. After the Cuban Revolution of 1959, the new Cuban government nationalized the company.
PRO TIP: Cubans typically use Havana Club 3 year white rum labeled añejo blanco 3 años.
Use juicy, ripe, real fresh squeezed limes for the best flavor. Ripe limes feel a little heavier, meaning they are full of juice. Pick limes that are firm, not too hard, squeezable, and not too soft.
Classic mojito recipes call for granulated white sugar. Bars will commonly use simple syrup. It is a fast way to mix drinks. Cubans do not use it! One option is to use superfine baking (caster sugar) in place of granulated sugar. It will dissolve more easily into cold liquid.
Pour cold sparkling water or club soda into the glass to finish the cocktail. This gives balance to the sweetness and mint flavors.
The mint pictured above, is from the garden of a Cuban seaside restaurant. They grow their own mint, called Mojito Mint (Mentha x villosa), and it made the most refreshing mojitos. For an authentic Cuban mojito, use Mojito Mint!
Mojito Mint (Mentha x villosa) was brought to North America about 15 years ago and is native to Cuba. Look for it in your local nurseries, and it's easy to grow at home. Just be sure to plant it in a pot, or it will take over your garden! At the store, most fresh mint herb packages won't usually say the specific plant species.
Yerba Buena from Columbia is also common to use in place of Mojito Mint. Both are popular in these cocktails as they have a similar flavor.
Top Secrets For Cuban Mojitos
The first secret to the best mojito recipes is to use aromatic bitters! It balances out the sweetness of the mint and sugar. The brand I prefer is Angostura, a product from the Caribbean islands that you can easily find online, and in stores US and globally.
Secondly, crush the mint stem. Not the mint leaves. Normally mudding results in brown smashed mint leaves in the drink which is not pretty or tasty.
And finally, there is no cocktail shaker needed to shake this drink. Also, no simple syrup, or slices of lime in a real mojito cocktail!
How I got The Real Mojito Recipe
Learning how to make a mojito in a famous historic hotel, is the best souvenir ever! Forget the gift shop. And, here is the drink they served us. This post has a lot of photos and travel notes toward the recipe card to share my travel adventure.
Along with lifelong friends, our group traveled to Cuba in January 2016 for over two weeks. An adventure filled with food and the history of a unique tropical paradise. Master bartenders gave us a cocktail class at the Hotel Nacional, famous for these classic Cuban cocktails.
By the way, the hotel is a landmark visited by many famous people. And the location for a 1946 Italian-American Mafia meeting the Havana Summit.
And oh, by the way, there are many legends and stories at Havana bars that claim Mojitos were Ernest Hemingways favorite drink. Who knows if that's true? However, this is Hemingway's desk at his home in . He lived in Cuba on and off for over 30 years. Writing prolifically while living on the island. Hemingway stated, “I live in Cuba because I love Cuba—that does not mean a dislike for anyplace else. And because here I get privacy when I write.”
Mojito Recipe Variations (Not Cuban)
Okay, these are NOT, I repeat, not Cuban recipes. People do enjoy different mojito flavors. Along with mint, you can muddle in fresh strawberries for a strawberry mojito and raspberries for raspberry mojitos. Blackberries, pineapple, watermelon, cucumber, mango, a bit of honey, or even try a blueberry mojito. Almost all berries will work in this drink! Simply crush in the glass with a muddler, or blend before mixing.
Why can't you get real Cuban Rum in the US?
The US government will not allow Cuban Rum imports due to the 1960s trade embargo. Cuban products are widely available in Mexico, Europe, and other parts of the world. Today, US Citizens can bring home up to $100 USD in cigars and alcohol goods from Cuba. Make a plan to carry your Cuban Rum on board your flight, as US shipping is not allowed.
Readers Love This Cuban Recipe
- "We love these real mojitos, OMG - So darn good!"
- "Lisa, loved all your pictures of Cuba and the directions on how they make real Mojitos in Cuba!"
- "Mojitos are my favorite! This recipe is a keeper. Thanks, Lisa"
- "What a refreshing cocktail recipe. LOVE your photos from Cuba (and those Havana Club glasses)!"
Many people believe that the original Mojito first started as a medicinal drink to curb disease on the island of Cuba. A creation of homemade "moon shine" rum-type alcohol mixed with fresh mint, lime juice, and cane sugar syrup to ward off illness. Other people credit local South American Indians who came ashore to Cuba with their medicinal remedy for various tropical illnesses.
How To Visit Cuba
People ask, what is the best way to see Cuba? The answer is easy. Travel with Mary Drobny, her company is Cultural Journeys. She handles all the Visas and travel details. Mary is adored by the people of Cuba and is a part-time resident. Plus she is kinda "famous" in Cuba! Hey, they know her at the airport. She literally has friends all over the country!
Go to Cuba, it is amazing. The cars and cigars are great. The people, food, art, and architecture will enchant you! And bring your camera...
My Cuba Travel Photography
The Caribbean sun produces some of the best tropical fruits like bananas, pineapple, mango, cacao, coconuts, and mamey - the national fruit, to name a few.
Other famous local crops include tobacco for rolling cigars, and sugarcane to make rum cocktails, which have grown on the island of Cuba for centuries.
Memories of Cuba
The colorful classic cars and cigars are what you expect. The best way to describe the country is that it is overflowing with fascinating contrasts. And it will intoxicate you with a tropical, relaxed pace.
Some of my favorite memories are that Cubans love their families, and take their time doing things. They have extremely talented artists, and everyone works at something. "Fast service", does not really exist. Good food does.
No one is in a rush. Patiently, you wait for food and drink. It's worth your time. And somehow, you slowly, gently, sink into the Cuban way of life. It's a sublime pace.
The food is absolutely delicious. I tried many dishes in the 3 weeks of my travels, and there are strong Spanish and French influences in their cuisine. Some of my favorite dishes were; Croquettes, Paella, Cuban Sandwiches, Malangas "fritters", Tapas, Ajicao, Ropa Vieja-shredded beef and Cuba's national dish, and Congri- mixed black beans and rice.
With mostly undependable internet, we actually embraced the disconnect. Cuban people are very kind. With care put into their homes and lovely gardens. It's common to see people out sweeping, everything is spotlessly clean!
The older buildings are sometimes crumbling, and the only thing holding it up was old trees that grew up inside the structure!
New neighborhood parks pop up all the time for the community as old structures collapse. Commonly, you will see Cuban neighbors sharing a bottle of rum. Sometimes just sipping it warm out of cups. Listening to great music, as always, and then breaking out dancing!
More Summer Cocktail Recipes
White Wine Sangria is a great summer cocktail and perfect for July 4th with little flags and straws for July 4th. The Cuba Libre aka "Rum & Coke", a classic Cuban cocktail is well over 100 years old. And has quenched the thirst of travelers and people around the world for decades. Enjoy this refreshing sweet cocktail. It is simple yet sublime...
or serve Aperol Spritz cocktails, perfect for pool parties, outdoor potlucks, and BBQs. And for a fast easy party cocktail, make a batch of 3 ingredient Margaritas, you won't believe how good they are!
Real Mojito Recipe
- 2 teaspoons white cane sugar
- ½ whole lime juice only
- 1 whole long mint sprig Mojito mint or Yerba Buena
- 1.5 ounces white rum Good US or Puerto Rican brand, Havana Club 3 year white rum
- 3 drops aromatic bitters Angostura brand is best
- 6 ounces sparkling water
- wooden muddler small wooden spoons work fine
- In each glass: add 2 teaspoons of white cane sugar and the juice of half a lime. In Cuba, they don't place the lime into the glass, just the lime juice!
- Place one long mint stem into each glass. Now muddle, simply push down and twist the bottom of the mint stems. NOT THE LEAVES into the sugar and lime juice. This way, you don't get a strong bitter taste when you over-muddle the mint leaves, AND they stay pretty and green not brown and bruised!
- Next, add 1- 2 shots of good white rum, and 3 drops of aromatic bitters.
- Add few ice cubes, in Cuba they don't add lots of ice because it is not commonly used, pour in sparkling water, add mint garnish, stir, and sip away!