Easy Virgin Mojito Recipe

All the flavor and freshness of the Cuban classic without the hangover.

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When thinking about Cuban cocktails, the first thing that comes to mind is a refreshing mojito. Combining the flavors of lime, fresh mint, and rum, topped with soda and served over ice, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more refreshing libation to beat the tropical heat. But if you’re sitting poolside in the heat, or just not ready to start catching an early buzz, a Virgin Mojito is the way to go.

As is the case with many of the classic cocktails, the origin of the mojito is, shall we say, a bit muddled. Some claim it was created by sailors, led by Sir Francis Drake, who obtained a medicinal concoction from native American Indians in Cuba made from aguardiente de caña (sugarcane alcohol,) lime juice, sugarcane juice, and mint. To the sailors, the spirit brought warmth and happiness, the lime fought against scurvy (a disease that sailors suffered quite often at that time due to vitamin C deficiency), the mint was refreshing and digestive, and the sugar softened the flavor. The drink was named El Draque in honor of the famed Captain. 

Another theory suggests that African slaves in the island sugar cane fields in the 19th century invented the drink using sugarcane juice but not lime juice. In either case, the drink evolved into the Mojito with the addition of soda. Its name comes from “mojo,” a Cuban seasoning made with lime. Perhaps because it had lime as an ingredient, the drink was ordered ‘with a little mojo’, that is, ‘mojito’. 

The drink became popular in the famous Bodeguita del Medio in Havana, where Ernest Hemingway was a regular. In the 1920s and 1930s, during Prohibition, many American citizens traveled from Key West to Cuba to drink to their hearts’ content. Among them, the famous writer, who is credited with the phrase “My Mojito in La Bodeguita, my Daiquiri in El Floridita” which is emblazoned on the bar’s sign, although some claim that this is false. Mojitos reached even more attention in the 1950s through heavy advertisement from Cuban rum giant Bacardi.

A Virgin Mojito is great because by leaving the alcohol out, you can imbibe the spirit-lifting libation all day long, beating the heat and quenching your thirst without the obvious consequences of drinking 10 mojitos containing rum. The flavors are citrusy and refreshing, with the natural cooling effects of mint and the timeless combination of lime and sugar providing the backbone. The soda lightens the acidity and makes the drink a thirst-quenching powerhouse.

What is Virgin Mojito?

There are many types of mint, but to create a Virgin Mojito, the one to use is Mojito Mint (Mentha x villosa) which is the variety used in Cuba where it is called hierbabuena (literally translating as “good herb”.) Once hard to find outside of Cuba, it was brought to North America around 2016 and is available as seedlings or seeds to grow it yourself if you are so inclined. Otherwise make sure you use spearmint and not peppermint, which will be more medicinal and stronger tasting (think toothpaste) — not the pleasant flavor you want for your Virgin Mojito.  

Some people like to make mint and sugar syrup instead of muddling the mint and sugar in the glass, which also avoids the bit-of-mint-on-your-teeth that some people dread.  This is a good trick if making a large batch of the drink, too. Combine equal amounts of sugar and water, add your fresh mint and simmer gently for a few minutes. Strain and save in a glass jar in the fridge. The syrup will last for a week or so, and it will make it super easy to whip up your virgin mojitos in a jiffy.

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Ingredients

  • 4 oz club soda
  • 2 oz fresh lime juice
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar to taste
  • 8 fresh mint leaves
  • Ice cubes

Instructions

  • Combine lime juice, sugar and mint leaves together in a Collins or highball glass. Use a muddler or the back of a spoon to crush and blend the mint with the lime juice and sugar.
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  • Fill the glass with ice cubes.
    Virgin Mojito steps front shot
  • Top off with club soda, give it a quick stir, garnish with extra mint leaves if desired, and serve immediately.
    Virgin Mojito steps front shot

Nutrition

Calories: 51kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 0.2g | Saturated Fat: 0.02g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 27mg | Potassium: 114mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 368IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 33mg | Iron: 0.5mg
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FAQs & Tips

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Virgin Mojito Variations

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