Two of my favorite cocktails are the Mojito and Margarita. Both classic cocktails are refreshing and perfect for a hot summer day and if you wonder what the difference between a mojito vs a margarita is, I'm here to fill you in.
Find out how to make one, how to order one and what the differences are.
While both have lime juice, come from warm countries and are among the most popular drinks in the world, that's where the similarities end. While a mojito highlights the mint flavor, the margarita focuses on the lime flavor. Each has different ingredients, preparation, and their own unique flavors.
Want some awesome food to serve with your margaritas? Ceviche, Mexican shrimp cocktail and fish tacos all heighten the enjoyment of a margarita! Or go for a cozy pot of authentic Mexican soup. Picadillo, ropa vieja, tamales and Spanish rice are traditional Cuban foods that pair perfectly with a fresh and minty mojito.
Both are found in most Caribbean and Mexican restaurants as well as most major restaurants and bars.
- The Quick + Dirty Summary
- Mojito Origin + History
- Mojito's Fame
- Margarita Origin + History
- Mexican Restaurant Specials
- Margarita's Fame
- Choosing the Right Glass - Salt Rimmed or Not?
- Traditional Mojito Recipe
- Classic Margarita Recipe
- Differences in Ingredients and Preparation
- Flavors and Variations of Mojito and Margarita
- How to Order a Mojito vs Margarita at a Cocktail Bar or Lounge
- Which is more popular - Mojito vs Margarita?
- Similar Drinks
- Where To Find A Mojito and Margarita
- Nutritional Comparison
- Which One Should You Choose
- Related Recipes
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The Quick + Dirty Summary
- Mojito - includes sugar or simple syrup, fresh mint leaves, lime juice, white rum and club soda. It is muddled, then stirred and served over ice in a tall glass. It is garnished with a sprig of mint and sometimes a wedge or wheel of lime. It is refreshing and typically lower in alcohol by volume than a margarita.
- Margarita - has tequila and an orange liqueur and lime juice. It can be shaken in a cocktail shaker and poured into a chilled glass with a stem. It can be served straight up, or with cube ice. It can also be served blitzed in the blender with ice to create a slushy drink. The margarita is garnished with a lime juice and salt rim and is usually a stiffer drink than the mojito.
Read on for more interesting facts about these two fabulous cocktails and some recipes for each.
Mojito Origin + History
The mojito, a refreshing and zesty cocktail, has a rich history that dates back to South America. The original recipe for this classic drink is said to have been created in the 16th century, during the time of Sir Francis Drake (and was originally called "El Draque").
Legend has it that he and his crew were suffering from scurvy and dysentery during their travels to the Caribbean, and they stumbled upon the mojito as a medicinal cure. The drink was made with lime juice, sugar, mint leaves, and aguardiente, a type of rum that was popular in Cuba at the time.
Over the years, the mojito has become a beloved cocktail that is enjoyed all over the world. It is a staple in many bars and cocktail lounges. The combination of tangy lime, sweet sugar, and fresh mint in this classic recipe, makes for a perfect summer sipper that is both refreshing and invigorating.
Mojitos and me, mint to be!
Today, there are countless variations of the classic mojito recipe, with bartenders adding their own unique twist to the drink. Some use different types of rum, while others experiment with different herbs and fruit flavors to create new and exciting cocktails.
Despite its long history, the mojito remains a timeless classic. Whether enjoyed on a sunny beach in Cuba or at a trendy cocktail lounge in New York City, a minty mojito is a drink that will never go out of style. So the next time you're in the mood for a delicious and refreshing cocktail, be sure to try a mojito - you won't be disappointed!
Probably most famous for enjoying the odd Cuban cocktail was long time Cuban resident, Ernest Hemingway. Though it wasn't his drink of choice, he did on occasion enjoy one. In the James Bond movie, Die Another Day, James and Jinx enjoy a refreshing mojito on the beach.
Margarita Origin + History
The Margarita is a classic cocktail that originated in Mexico during the 1940s. A perfect combination of lime juice, tequila and orange-flavoured liqueur, many say this is the perfect cocktail.
The true origin of the cocktail is unknown, but it 'may' have been created by a bartender named Carlos "Danny" Herrera. The Margarita gained popularity in the United States during the 1950's, and it became a favorite of Hollywood celebrities and politicians.
Some believe the margarita was invented in 1941 by Carlos "Danny" Herrera, a Tijuana-based bartender who whipped up the concoction for a customer who couldn't handle the taste of straight tequila. Herrera mixed together white tequila, triple sec, and real lime juice, and served it over ice in a salt-rimmed glass. The customer was delighted, and the margarita was born.
Others believe the margarita was first created in the late 1930s or early 1940s by a socialite named Margarita Sames. She was hosting a party at her vacation home in Acapulco, Mexico, and decided to whip up a new cocktail for her guests. She mixed together white tequila, Cointreau, and real lime juice, served it over ice in a salt-rimmed glass, and the rest is history.
But like most legends, this one is contested. Some claim that the margarita actually originated in Texas or even further back in the 1930s, when Prohibition forced Americans to seek out boozy havens south of the border. Regardless of its true origin story, there's no denying that the margarita has become an integral part of Mexican cuisine and culture.
Mexican Restaurant Specials
Many Mexican restaurants take great pride in their margaritas, offering up unique twists on the classic recipe. Some use fresh-squeezed grapefruit or orange juice instead of lime, while others infuse their tequila with jalapeños or other spicy peppers. And of course, there are endless variations on the salt rim, from infused salts to chili-lime blends.
If you're a purist or cocktail connoisseur, you can't go wrong with a classic margarita made with real lime juice and white tequila. (Avoid drinks made with sour mix, these are overly sugary and not authentic.)
Not to be outdone by the mojito, the margarita has some pop culture fame too. Who can forget Jimmy Buffets song, "Wasting away in Margaritaville"?! And the blender named the Margaritaville too!
Tequila may not be the answer but it's worth a shot!
Choosing the Right Glass - Salt Rimmed or Not?
One of the most significant differences between the Mojito vs Margarita is the glass they are served in. A margarita is traditionally served in a margarita glass which is a wide mouthed, stemmed glass similar to a martini glass or champagne coupe only larger.
You can also serve it in a rocks glass which is common for shaken margaritas (those that are not slushy.) A mojito is usually served in a tall highball glass.
The Margarita is typically served in a salt-rimmed glass, while the Mojito has a bare rim with a sprig of mint. The salt on the rim of the glass adds a savory element to the Margarita and balances out the sweetness of the cocktail.
Traditional Mojito Recipe
2 oz. white rum
1 oz. fresh lime juice
1 oz. white cane sugar or simple syrup
6-8 fresh mint leaves
Sprig of fresh mint
In a mixing glass, gently muddle the mint leaves with the sugar or simple syrup and lime juice. Add the white rum and stir. Strain the mixture into a glass filled with ice and top with soda water. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.
Or find my Gin Mojito recipe here.
Classic Margarita Recipe
Find the the best, traditional Homemade Margaritas here, or try the Maple Whiskey Margarita Cocktail for a fun twist.
Differences in Ingredients and Preparation
The most significant difference between the Mojito and Margarita is the ingredients used. The Mojito uses white rum, while the Margarita uses tequila. The Mojito also includes fresh mint leaves, which give the cocktail a minty flavor, while the Margarita uses triple sec or orange liqueur for a subtle orange flavor.
In terms of preparation, the Mojito requires gentle muddling of the mint leaves with the sugar (or sugar syrup) and lime juice. The Margarita requires shaking the ingredients with ice. The Margarita is also served in a salt-rimmed glass, while the Mojito is not.
Flavors and Variations of Mojito and Margarita
While the classic recipes of the Mojito and Margarita are delicious, there are many different flavors and variations that you can try. For the Mojito, you can add fruit such as strawberries or blueberries to give the cocktail a fruity twist. You can also try a mojito made with dry vermouth instead of rum, known as a "Dry Mojito."
For the Margarita, you can try different flavors such as strawberry, watermelon, or mango. You can also try a Margarita made with mezcal instead of tequila, known as a "Mezcal Margarita." Pour in a little grenadine over a spoon to create a thin red layer and top with a maraschino cherry for a brightly colored sunset margarita.
If you prefer a sweeter cocktail, then the Mojito is the better choice. However, if you prefer a slightly savory cocktail with more citrus, then the Margarita is the way to go.
How to Order a Mojito vs Margarita at a Cocktail Bar or Lounge
When ordering a Mojito or Margarita at a cocktail bar or lounge, it is important to know what you like. If you prefer a sweeter cocktail, then ask for extra simple syrup or sugar. If you prefer a more citrusy cocktail, then ask for extra lime juice.
While a mojito is pretty straightforward, you can ask for it short (stronger) or tall (more club soda=more refreshing).
When ordering a margarita, you will usually indicate whether you want it straight up, on the rocks (with ice) or blended (slushy style). You can also let the bartender know if you want a salt-rimmed glass or not.
For either drink, you can ask for variations like extra sweetener, different fruit juice or any other changes you'd like. Don't be afraid to ask questions or be specific to ensure that you get the best possible drink, just the way you like it.
Which is more popular - Mojito vs Margarita?
The Mojito and Margarita are both popular cocktails, but the Margarita is generally more popular. According to a 2022 survey of the top cocktails in the world conducted by VinePair, the Margarita came in at #4 beating out the mojito which came in at a respectable #9.
There are a lot of awesome cocktails on that list of the top 50 which shows how well loved these two lime based cocktails are.
There are other types of cocktails that are similar to these. A mint julep and an old Cuban cocktail are traditional cocktails that use mint just like the mojito. A Southside cocktail is another similar drink that uses mint AND lime juice as does the Moscow mule.
Lime based drinks to rival a Margarita include the classic daiquiri, a gimlet, a pisco sour, the mai tai, a dark and stormy and the Brazilian Caipirinha. These classic cocktails are all delicious and worth trying.
There are some other notable citrus based drinks that use other citrus. The Paloma cocktail uses grapefruit juice and a whiskey sour employs lemon juice. Using citrus in cocktails adds tangy undertones with tropical flair.
Where To Find A Mojito and Margarita
If you are looking for a place to enjoy a delicious cocktail like a Mojito or Margarita, you won't have to look far. In the United States, almost every restaurant, including popular chain restaurants like Chili's and Applebee's serve both cocktails.
If you are looking for a more upscale experience, a cocktail bar or lounge can make you one with premium liqueurs and other ingredients. An experienced bartender is good at making a great drink with ingredients that are in perfect balance.
Both the Mojito and Margarita are alcoholic beverages that contain calories and sugar. However, the Mojito is generally considered to be the healthier option as it has a lower sugar content than the Margarita.
A classic Mojito contains approximately 150 calories and 10 grams of sugar, while a classic Margarita contains approximately 168 calories and 11 grams of sugar.
Which One Should You Choose
The main difference between these two cocktails is the amount of each ingredient and the type of alcohol used to make the drink.
Enjoying a cocktail is an indulgence and the choice between a Mojito vs Margarita comes down to personal preference. I hope my notes have helped you make choose what to make or order tonight. And with so many different flavors and variations available, there is a mojito or margarita out there for everyone. Cheers!
For more on what I'm cooking up, follow me on Instagram or Facebook. You might also like my FREE printable weekly meal planner.
Cheers friends! Sabrina
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