Liquor in the Mint: A Classic Mojito

Once I was at a restaurant eating lunch and our waiter asked what I did for a living. I told him all the jobs I was doing, and this one came up. “A liquor column, huh? I bartend here too, actually,” he said, and I held my breath because it was that tone. The tone that let me know I was about to be mansplained to. “When you make a mojito, how do you do it?”

“Uh. With mint and rum? I don’t know what answer you’re looking for here.”

“Like, with what sort of mint? How do you do the mint?”

I raised my eyebrow. “I use mint from my own mint plant that I grow myself.”

“Wow… that’s hardcore.”

I came to learn that the litmus test for whether or not I was legit enough in his eyes was how I combined the sugar and the mint. Whether I used simple syrup (the wrong answer) or I used sugar to cut the mint during muddling (the right answer). So now you know! When bartenders are trying to ascertain whether you’re “knowledgeable enough” (ugh), this is what they want you to say. And though my cats killed my chocolate mint plant long ago and I’m totally using store bought, don’t worry. It’s still legit.

mint, lime, brugal rum, seltzer and sugar cubes

You will need:

2 oz. white rum

1 demarrera sugar cube

2 mint leaves

0.5 oz lime juice

seltzer to top

First juice your lime. If you read this column regularly, you know to cut the lime length-wise to maximize juicing.

a lime, cut lengthwise, on a cutting board with a knife and a shitty juicer

In a tall glass (I’m using a canning jar because dammit, it’s cute), muddle the sugar cube and two of the mint leaves together.

close up of mint leaves and sugar cube in canning jar

Now this is the “legit” step because the sugar crystals are going to help cut the mint apart. Then toss the lime juice in there and give it a further muddle. That’ll help dissolve the sugar.

comparison between muddled sugar and mint, and the same with lime juice

You may notice that we’re not shaking this EVEN THOUGH we’re using a fruit juice. That’s because the fruit juice is doing a different job. This job. The sugar dissolving job.

two ice balls in a canning jar

When you’ve got a liquidy paste situation, add your ice. I’m using two big ice balls because they melt slower (more surface area = slower melt and lower temperature), and this is a strong drink, so I’m gonna take my time drinking it. Throw the 2 oz. of white rum in there and then top with your seltzer.

a finished mojito on top of a book and in front of an alice in wonderland print

I like to stir a bit as well. Remember, we threw entire sugar cubes in there — if we don’t agitate this sucker a little bit, that sugar is gonna chill on the bottom. Grab a bar spoon and stir, trying not to crack your spoon against your ice. Garnish with half that juiced lime and a straw. Bam. Easy, classic, build-in-the-glass mojito. Now I’m going to pair this drink with prepping for my D&D game this weekend. Who’s with me?

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A.E. Osworth

A.E. Osworth is part-time Faculty at The New School, where they teach undergraduates the art of digital storytelling. Their novel, We Are Watching Eliza Bright, about a game developer dealing with harassment (and narrated collectively by a fictional subreddit), is forthcoming from Grand Central Publishing (April 2021) and is available for pre-order now. They have an eight-year freelancing career and you can find their work on Autostraddle (where they used to be the Geekery Editor), Guernica, Quartz, Electric Lit, Paper Darts, Mashable, and drDoctor, among others.

A.E. has written 542 articles for us.


  1. YES! A new one of these, always like learning new drinks that i can make and share with people, thank you for posting these. Since i am so new to drinking these fancy drinks in general its a nice thing to get to try every once in a while

  2. Ha! Loved the article, mostly for sounding delicious and making me chuckle this morning. I’m shaking my head at the arrogance of some people.

    I’m cringing at the nitpick, but my science background compels me to point out that a large ball of ice has *less* overall surface area than a similar volume of smaller ices. Think of the ball as compressing the small ones together, leaving only their outer edges exposed=less surface. But you might have meant that anyway, so in that case, slainte!

    • Haha thank you for making the sphere surface area comment, because as a physics nerd and drink enjoyer, that was bugging me.

  3. I love hearing the eye roll in this ab the guy bc this happens to me ALL. THE. TIME.

    I live in DoucheNation (austin) and the bartenders here are the WORST at mansplaining! Solidarity, Ali!!

    • i’m only calling austin DoucheNation now thank you for this you have summed up my feelings perfectly

  4. My poor ma told me this weekend that she has never tried a mojito. EVER. I about fell off my chair.

    Don’t worry, she is visiting Portland this summer and I intend to remedy the situation.

  5. Wait, you use the whole other half of the lime as garnish? But what about mojito #2?!

    Should the mint/sugar muddling technique also be used for mint juleps?

  6. Please never stop doing this column, you’ve upped my cocktail game considerably and I live for your wit

  7. !! I know it’s not totally traditional mojito style but when I’m really trying to go all-in on an Infinite Mojito Night I make the first couple rounds with cheap champagne instead of seltzer. Really gets the people going ?

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