If you’re like me, entertaining has once again been on your mind. From backyard barbecues to movie nights, there are plenty of ways to reconnect. Right before the pandemic, one of my friends hosted a surprise birthday party for his wife and asked me to coordinate the bar. Since I wanted to keep it simple but also delicious, I landed on a mojito bar. I could have left it at self-service but I like making drinks for other people. The instructions below work for either having someone make the drinks or a self-service option. It’s also a fairly inexpensive option for a party. I think you’ll find it fun and manageable with a little bit of planning. Let’s get started!
Planning Your Mojito Bar
A mojito bar is simple with a bit of planning ahead. Start by thinking through the flavors you want to serve. I always serve a classic mojito (see recipe below) and a couple of other options. It’s nice to include one stand-out flavor, like a grilled pineapple syrup. This provides you with the option to make a non-alcoholic version, for any children or non-drinkers at your event. Most any syrup works well for mojitos. For the mojito bar covered in this post I made ginger, blackberry, and a plain rich simple syrup (2:1, sugar to water). If making syrups sounds like too much work, there are also some decent pre-made syrups you can purchase. For simplicity, I would suggest not offering more than three or four flavored mojito options. I would also highly recommend these bottles from Crew to store and serve your syrups.
- 2 oz rum
- 1 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
- 0.75 oz simple or flavored syrup
- 5 leaves mint
- sparkling water
- Add rum and mint to a shaker and muddle gently to break up mint and release the flavors.
- Add lime juice, syrup and ice and shake for 20-30 seconds.
- Strain into glass and top with sparkling water and a sprig of mint for garnish.
Mint in bulk can be a bit hard to find. Most grocery stores just carry the little clam shells of the fresh herb. If you aren’t growing some at home, try one of these alternatives. You can order mint online but make sure you time it to arrive on time, and not too early for your party. Another option is to take down the information on the brand you see at the grocery store and see if they will sell it to you in bulk. This option allowed me to purchase all the mint I needed at a very reasonable price. They even delivered it to the store with the store’s weekly order and I picked it up there. Finally, it seems like everyone has a friend or neighbor with a garden, so ask around. Mint is typically a hearty and plentiful plant.
While the classic mojito recipe calls for a light rum, there are no rules for your mojito bar. Mixing up the kind of rum can add even more flavors for your guests to choose from. Sticking to one light rum keeps things most economical as you can purchase it in large quantities (like a handle). If you want to offer a dark rum or a funky Jamaican rum, go for it! Just consider the alcohol by volume (ABV) of each rum.
The one place you don’t want to cut corners on is fresh squeezed lime juice. It takes some time but it adds so much to the flavor of the mojito (or any other cocktail that calls for lime juice). I like to buy limes in bulk at Costco, but they have them at Sam’s Club or Trader Joe’s. They will stay fresh for quite awhile as long as you refrigerate them. I like storing them in a Cambro bin.
Topping a mojito with sparkling water can be optional, but I love a little fizz in mine. It’s also a great option for your guests not drinking alcohol. Just add the sparkling water to the syrup, lime juice, and mint for a refreshing non-alcoholic no-jito (haha, sorry, had to). I have experimented with a lot of sparking waters and club sodas, and Topo Chico is by far my favorite brand to use. It can be purchased in a case or in large bottles, depending on how much you need.
Other brands that work well are San Pellegrino, Perrier, and some store brands. I want the mojito bar to look a little fancy, so I consider the look of the bottles and labels but this may not matter to you. Just make sure it’s plain and unsweetened.
Other Helpful Tips for Planning
- People tend to drink (on average) a drink an hour. Keep that in mind as you plan how much of each ingredient you need to buy.
- Use smaller cups to make the mojito bar last longer. I also suggest having a couple of other easy drink options on hand like a few bottles of wine, beer, and a big batch of lemonade.
- Unless you want guests to individually muddle their mint, chop it up and infuse the rum with it for up to 12 hours ahead of time. Keep some mint whole for garnishes and no-jitos.
- You can simplify the bar set-up even further by adding the lime juice, mint, and rum together ahead of time in a big jug or drink dispenser.
- Keep things clean by storing and serving the syrups in bottles with pour spouts. You can get fancy ones or this more affordable style.
Prepping Your Mojito Bar
While I think every bar needs the proper tools, these are key items you will need. I would definitely advise squeezing all the limes you need ahead of your party. The juicer above is a long-time favorite of mine and is very tough. I still have my first one that I purchased in 2016!
The second item is a muddler. If you plan on having your guests muddle their own mint in their glass this will help. Or you can just tell them to rip the leaves. A muddler can also be used if you are making up a large batch of the mojito base of rum and lime juice and don’t want to chop the mint too fine.
Finally, a jigger is key to measure everything as you prep and at your party. This one is really nice because it’s easy to use and read.
For an easy way to get the party started, make up a few of each flavor of mojito. That way your guests don’t have to form a line the second they get to the party. Once those are gone, you can either make more, or put out a card with simple instructions for mixing up their own. I like to use the pre-mixed lime juice, chopped mint, rum option in one container. Next to that are the syrup options, ice, sparkling water, and mint sprigs.
I put a jigger out on the counter and let people make their own. Just tell them to add a little ice, 3 ounces of the rum/mint/lime mixture, 0.75 ounces of their choice of syrup, and then top the cup with sparkling water and mint. Keep a couple of bar spoons nearby as well so they can give their drink a stir.
Now you have your own mojito bar ready for any party! Let me know if you have any questions or if you try this out. For more tips on entertaining at home, check out this post.