Some people have distinct tastes when it comes to the types of liquor they will or will not drink. Some love whiskey but won’t touch tequila while others may adore vodka but steer clear of rum. You get the picture. Well what if you want to enjoy a refreshing Mojito on a nice sunny day but you just don’t like rum? Well don’t worry, you have another option: Vodka.
Can you substitute vodka for rum in a mojito? The answer is yes, you can substitute vodka for rum in a mojito. Doing so will simply change the name to a Vodka Mojito, and change the taste slightly.
The standard recipe for the Mojito calls for a mix of rum, fresh limes (or lime juice), club soda, sugar, and mint leaves. This classic Cuban cocktail is both delicious and refreshing and has many variations, such as the Vodka Mojito discussed above.
Please join us further as we go a little more in depth about how to make a Mojito, the many distinct characteristics of the Mojito, some key differences between vodka and rum, and even some fun facts and history on this wonderful concoction.
History of the Mojito
While it is generally agreed Havana, Cuba is the birthplace of the Mojito, many other details about the origin of this tasty beverage are up for debate.
One version begins in the 1500s, when Sir Francis Drake landed in Havana, planning to sack the city and take its riches. While the mission failed, it did take a fortuitous turn. Some of Drake’s crew were suffering from dysentery and scurvy and a remedy needed to be found. When a small party went ashore in Cuba they came back with aguardiente de cana, mint leaves, sugar cane, and limes. They concocted a tonic from these ingredients that helped the afflicted crew members immensely. Of course we now know that it was the lime juice that did the heavy lifting but out of the chaos the Mojito, or the “El Draque” as it was known at that time, was born.
An alternate origin story has the drink being created by African slaves working in Cuban sugar cane fields in the 1800s. Guarapo, which is the sugar cane juice commonly found in Mojitos, was frequently enjoyed by the slaves who named it, although they never included lime juice in their recipe.
Key Differences Between Vodka and Rum
Main Ingredients: Rum is comprised of molasses and sugarcane juice which are fermented and distilled. Vodka is made from potatoes or grains which are fermented along with ethanol and alcohol.
Appearance: Rum can be either clear or brown, depending on how long it is aged and whether or not caramel is added to darken the color. Vodka is always clear and colorless no matter what.
Taste: Rum is sweeter due to the presence of molasses and sugarcane juice. Sometimes rum is even used as a cooking ingredient when making pastries or ice cream. Vodka doesn’t have too much of a taste at all.
What are the Ingredients in a Mojito (& Vodka Mojito)
Rum: A white rum is almost always the primary ingredient in an authentic Mojito and it provides the only source of alcohol in the entire drink. Some great white rums to try are Bacardi Superior, Mount Gay Silver Rum, and Captain Morgan White Rum. While there are definitely some higher end choices out there, these three taste great, won’t break the bank, and provide a great backbone for a delicious Mojito.
Vodka: If you want to substitute some of Russian’s finest for some of Cuba’s finest to make a Vodka Mojito go right ahead. I won’t call you a communist I promise. Some solid and fairly inexpensive choices include Absolut, Tito’s, Ketel One, Smirnoff and Svedka. If you want to go a bit fancier with Grey Goose or Belvedere, feel free!
Fresh Limes or Lime Juice: Freshly squeezed limes are definitely preferable if you can get your mitts on them and are willing to take the time to do the squeezing yourself. If time is of the essence, a bottle of lime juice will most certainly suffice.
Sugar: Some people prefer to use sugar cubes in their Mojito recipes, but they are a bit harder to find than regular granulated sugar. Either way sugar is sugar so use whatever floats your boat.
Club Soda: Standard club sodas from companies like Schweppes or Canada Dry will be just fine since we are only adding a splash at the end to top everything off.
Fresh Mint Leaves: Make sure your mint leaves are extra fresh as these really give the Mojito it’s famous taste. These can be found at most local grocers and shouldn’t be very tough to obtain. Buy about 10-12 leaves per drink you plan on making and remember, make sure they are fresh!
How to Make a Mojito
Serving size: 1
Time: 5 minutes
- Grab a highball glass or Collins glass.
- Add 6-8 fresh mint leaves and 1 lime wedge to the glass.
- Use a muddler to crush the mint and lime to release their wonderful goodness.
- Now add 2 teaspoons of granulated sugar or sugar cubes and 2 more limes to the mix.
- Muddle again.
- Fill the glass with ice.
- Pour the rum (or vodka) over the ice.
- Add the desired amount of club soda.
- Stir and garnish with a lime wedge.
Tip: Don’t go too crazy with the muddling as you don’t want the mint leaves to break apart. This will release the more bitter tastes from the leaves, not to mention it will create all sorts of little mint pieces floating in your Mojito and getting stuck in your teeth.
What Does a Mojito Taste Like?
The two ingredients that should stand out in a properly made Mojito are the mint leaves and the fresh limes. A good Mojito should be slightly tart but not full on sour and there should also be some sweetness to the drink as well from the sugar. You should be able to taste the kick of the white rum as well, making it the perfect summer sipper.
What Does a Mojito Look Like?
A Mojito in its glass looks very refreshing with all the green mint leaves floating amongst all the ice cubes and a slightly muddled, off white liquid.
Usually served in a tall glass, The fresh limes tend to end up nearer the bottom of the glass while the mint leaves usually find themselves floating somewhere near the middle. This gives the Mojito a nice fresh, tropical look.
When is a Good Time to Drink a Mojito?
If you’ve read all the information above you would certainly agree that any time is a great time to enjoy a cool, crisp Mojito. Some of the best times would be after a hard day’s work on a hot day, lounging by the pool with friends, or sitting on a beach listening to the sounds of the sea.
Fun Fact About Mojitos
Mojitos were one of Ernest Himingway’s favorite cocktails. Hemingway made a bar called La Bodeguita del Medio in Havana, Cuba, where he was a regular, instantly famous when he wrote “My Mojito in La Bodeguita, My daiquiri in El Floridita” on the wall of the bar.
Similar Drinks to the Mojito
Daiquiri: The classic version combines white rum, lime juice and simple syrup. There are countless fruitier variations out there as well.
Dirty Mojito: Dark spiced rum, brown sugar and lime
English Mojito: Gin and Sprite, not rum and soda.
Malibu Mojito: Add some coconut to the mix.
Mint Julep: Add you favorite bourbon in place of rum to really warm your belly.
Mexican Mojito or Mojito Blanco: Replace the rum with your favorite tequila. Vamos!
Rum Swizzle: Another tropical favorite, grab some black rum, gold rum, pineapple juice, orange juice and freshly squeezed lemons and pour in a glass. Add a few dashes of Angostura Bitters and some Bermuda falernum and enjoy!
Royal Mojito: Get a huge glass and double each ingredient to really relax in the heat.