If there's a cocktail more perfect for summer than a mojito, then we just haven't found it. (OK, fine. We'll concede maybe to a margarita — but that's it.) The perfect blend of rum with refreshing mint, zesty lime juice, and sweet simple syrup, the drink just can't be beat.
The mojito is suprisingly simple and easy to make. Each ingredient is as important as the last; as author Kim Hassard writes in 101 Mojitos and Other Muddled Drinks, it's imperative to use fresh mint, crushed ice (to chill and dilute the drink fast), freshly squeezed lime juice, and sugar (although Hassard uses simple syrup in lieu of raw or Demerara sugar). Yet the most crucial component of a mojito is how it's muddled — especially that mint.
Mint, as Hassard explains, is often overmuddled and pulverized into tiny little pieces. The problem is that when mint is overextracted and overmuddled, it ends up tasting bitter. You want to just barely bruise the mint in order to extract the essential oils; or, try a fancy bartender trick and "slap" the mint in your hands. Slapping the mint releases the oils in a jiff — just take a whiff of your hands afterward and fall in love with mint all over again.
But these days, it's not just mint that's getting the muddled treatment in mojitos. There are blueberries, raspberries, pineapples, blood oranges, and other fruits to shake up your mojito routine. With a few new spirits — ever thought you'd put tequila in a mojito? — and fruits, there's no shortage of ways to drink a refreshing mojito this summer. Just in time for National Mojito Day on July 11, our favorite mojito recipes.