How To Make A Mojito So Good You'll Be Counting The Minutes To Happy Hour

This easy, refreshing cocktail comes together quickly.

Southern Living Mojito two mojitos with straws and extra mint leaves

Caitlin Bensel: Food Stylist: Torie Cox

Active Time:
5 mins
Total Time:
5 mins

Want an instant vacation? Make a mojito! Muddle some mint, limes, and sugar in a glass. Add rum, ice, and top with bubbly club soda. Close your eyes, sip… and pretend you're in Havana.

Few drinks are quite as transporting and thirst-quenching as the mojito, which originated in Cuba and calls for three of the country's most popular exports: cane sugar, limes, and rum. Combined with crushed ice and soda water, a mojito is so refreshing and delicious, the only downside is that it will be gone before you know it.

Where Did the Mojito Originate?

Like the cocktail itself, the origins of the mojito are a little, well, muddled.

The reigning theory is that the cocktail evolved from a 16th-century drink called El Draque—named for Sir Francis Drake, who visited Havana in 1586. This early iteration of the drink, which was used for "medicinal purposes," was made with lime, mint, sugar, and aguardiente (a cane-spirit similar to rum).

At some point over the centuries, it was renamed as the mojito. The oldest surviving mention in print is in the 1932 edition of Sloppy Joe’s Bar Cocktail Manual, a book written by the historic Havana bar.

Competing theories claim that the mojito was invented at the famous Havana watering hole La Bodeguita del Medio, or that it was popularized by Cuban farmers working the fields (although only the wealthy would have added ice and soda water). Others say it was created by enslaved Africans, and that the name derived from the word "mojo," which means "to cast a spell."

Ernest Hemingway and other celebrities who visited Cuba over the decades are often credited with popularizing this now-classic cocktail in the U.S. In fact, many claim it was the writer's favorite cocktail, but this story is most likely just that—a story. (He did like the Hemingway Daiquiri however.)

What Is a Classic Mojito Made Of?

The mojito is a combination of muddled mint, lime juice, sugar, light rum, and soda water.

But it’s a very easy cocktail to riff on. If you want to mix things up, there's no need to omit anything. Just use this recipe, and add some fresh fruit, fruit juice, or purée with the rum.

Popular mojito variations are passionfruit, mango, pineapple, watermelon, or honeydew—even cranberries or cucumber.

Southern Living Mojito ingredients

Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

What Kind of Alcohol Is Best for a Mojito?

The classic mojito calls for aged light rum.

It’s best to save your dark rum for ginger beer or rum balls recipes since the more intense flavor can be overpowering. Although of course in a pinch, a mojito made with dark rum will still taste great.

Do You Need Special Equipment to Make a Mojito?

Mojito recipes call for a muddler, a pestle-like tool with a flat or textured bottom that’s perfect for mashing ingredients like fruit and herbs.

Not only does this handy bar tool help break up chunks of fruit so that they mix with the other ingredients, but it also releases the natural oils in herbs and citrus peels, maximizing their flavors.

But while a muddler is a great addition to a home bar, there are plenty of other tools you can use instead. The bottom of a wooden spoon or long-handled plastic kitchen tool will work well, too.

How To Make a Mojito

Step 1: Muddle 

Add the lime wheels, mint leaves, and sugar to a highball glass (or another tall, slender glass). Using a cocktail muddler or the back of a wooden spoon, crush the ingredients to release the natural oils of the mint and the juice of the lime and combine them with the sugar granules.

Step 2: Add rum, soda, and ice

Add the rum and enough crushed ice to fill the glass. (If your freezer makes crushed ice, you’re all set. Otherwise, add whole ice cubes to a plastic bag, and break the cubes up using the bottom of a skillet or can from your pantry.) Top with club soda or seltzer.

Step 3: Garnish

For finishing touches, garnish your glass with the reserved lime wheel and a sprig of mint.


  • 3 thinly-sliced lime wheels, divided

  • 10 fresh spearmint leaves, plus a sprig for garnish

  • 2 tsp. granulated sugar

  • 3 Tbsp. (1 1/2 oz.) white rum

  • Crushed ice

  • Club soda


  1. Add 2 lime wheels, 10 mint leaves, and sugar to a highball glass.

    Southern Living Mojito limes and mint leaves in glass

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

    Use a cocktail muddler to thoroughly crush the ingredients and release their oils.

    Southern Living Mojito muddling together the lime, mint, and sugar

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

  2. Add rum to the glass and fill with crushed ice.

    Southern Living Mojito ice in glass

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

    Top with club soda; stir.

    Southern Living Mojito adding the club soda

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

  3. Garnish with remaining lime wheel and mint sprig.

    Southern Living Mojito finished drink

    Caitlin Bensel; Food Stylist: Torie Cox

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