Ever since my first trip to Thailand four years ago, I’ve been on a personal quest to uncover the secret to the Thai mojito. After trying my first one (by accident) in Chiang Mai, I was obsessed (like with so many other things in Thailand after that trip. Mango sticky rice and smoothie bowls anyone?) There was something different about it and I just couldn’t put my finger on. So I did some research, which involved drinking many mojitos (tough job, I know). And I think I found the answer…
It’s all in the sugar and the herbs. In the traditional Cuban version, sugar cane juice or cane sugar is used along with a simple mix of mint and rum. However, in the Thai version, palm sugar is used and muddled with a variety of herbs including mint, basil, kaffir lime leaves, ginger, or lemongrass, which adds depth and balance of flavor that compliments Thai food perfectly.
Since I like to put my own spin on things, I took the Thai mojito a step further with the addition of Thai chili which adds a nice bitey finish without being spicy. Citrus plays an important roll in the mojito and the Thai flavor profile, and since it’s blood orange season, they lend perfectly as a substitute for the sweet green oranges found around the country. Voila! The blood orange Thai mojito was born, which I like to think is an outstanding throwback to the original I tried many moons ago.
Crafting the Perfect Mojito
After sampling so many mojitos, I’d like to think my game is pretty strong, and isn’t nearly as time-consuming or difficult to make as people might think. Just keep one thing in mind — fresh ingredients are everything. None of that concentrate crap in this drink. Fresh juice + fresh herbs = mojito perfection.
It’s important to have the proper tools for muddling, and you can pick up a simple wooden or metal muddler for a few bucks at any kitchen store. But, if you don’t have one handy, a wooden spoon should do the trick. While it’s easy to muddle, it’s even easier to over-do it on the herbs, which in turn causes your drink to become bitter from the release of chlorophyll. Here’s a sure-fire method to up your mojito muddling game:
- Choose a sturdy mixing glass, a cocktail glass, or a shaker.
- Remove the herb leaves from the stems and place them into the mixing glass. Add sugar, fruit, and juice.
- Place the muddler in the glass gently pressing it down on the leaves and give a half turn. Continue the motion 4-6 times until the herb’s aroma is released. I also like to stir the mixture a few times to help incorporate the ingredients.
- That’s it! Add the mixture to your glass and continue building the cocktail.TIP: Be sure to muddle before adding ice or your ingredients won’t not be properly muddled and diluted from the ice.
A sip of this blood orange Thai mojito beauty will have you transported to SE Asia in no time. Cheers! ไชโยPrint
A sip of this blood orange Thai mojito beauty consisting of rum, blood oranges, thai basil, mint, kaffir lime leaves, and Thai chilis will have you transported to SE Asia in no time. Cheers!
5 oz fresh squeezed blood orange juice
1 oz lime juice
3 oz light rum
1/2 red Thai chili, minced (aka bird’s eye chili)
4 kaffir lime leaves, roughly torn (found in most asian markets)
1 small bunch of mint (leaves removed from stems and roughly torn), plus a few stems for garnish
1/2 small bunch Thai basil (leaves removed from stems, and roughly torn)
2 tablespoons brown sugar or palm sugar
1 whole blood orange
lemon-lime soda or soda water
- In a shaker or or cocktail mixing glass muddle mint, Thai basil, kaffir lime leaves, Thai chili, sugar, lime juice and 1 oz of blood orange juice until sugar is dissolved.
- Add rum and remaining blood orange juice to mint mixture and stir well.
- Slice blood orange into thin slices and arrange inside 2 highball glasses, add ice.
- Pour mint mixture evenly between the two glasses.
- Top with lemon-lime soda or soda water, garnish with mint, and enjoy.