What is a Dirty Mojito?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

The mojito is the Cuban national drink, and a combination of rum, mint leaves, sugar, soda water, and lime juice. The drink has gained great popularity in the United States as a refreshing and unusual taste of the tropics. It’s also, like most well known drinks, inspired quite a few variations. Among these is the dirty mojito.

Raw sugar, which can be used to make a dirty mojito.
Raw sugar, which can be used to make a dirty mojito.

To make a drink “dirty,” means you may slightly change the color and taste by adding or changing some of the essential ingredients. A dirty martini for instance contains olive juice. There are actually several versions of the dirty mojito. One classic is to use raw sugar instead of white granulated. This gives the drink a very slightly tan or “dirty” color.

A dirty mojito may be served with mint leaves.
A dirty mojito may be served with mint leaves.

Another dirty mojito variant advocates the use of brown sugar. This would change the flavor of the drink possibly more than raw sugar. Brown sugar has a slightly caramel, slightly molasses flavor to it that could add greater complexity to the contrasting lime and mint plus rum flavors.

Most “clean” mojitos are made with white rum, so another way to make the dirty mojito is to use a light amber or darker rum instead. This will really change the color, and with the addition of different tasting sugar will result in both color and flavor changes. Honey is another suggested sweetener, though it should be used sparingly to avoid making the drink too sweet.

Like many mojito recipes, dirty mojitos take a little effort to make. Most cocktail enthusiasts suggest muddling, or somewhat crushing the mint, sugar, lime juice and ice together. Others believe if you do this, you end up with what looks like floating grass in your drink. This might well fit with the description of “dirty” however. Once the muddling process is over, the acid in the lime juice helps to pull out the flavor of the oil in the mint. You can also simply let these ingredients sit for a few minutes if you’d prefer to keep the mint leaves intact.

Add rum, typically a one-ounce (.03 liters) serving, and top the drink off with carbonated water. You can alter amounts of mint, sugar, alcohol, lime juice and soda water to make the dirty mojito stronger in flavor, more boozy, sweeter or cooler. Most people evolve their own recipes when they make these at home. As with the clean mojito, the dirty mojito typically is served in a tall glass and can be garnished with a few mint leaves or a slice of lime.

The mojito is the national drink of Cuba.
The mojito is the national drink of Cuba.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments


I will say I have tried honey in a drink and absolutely hated it. It felt like it was just something that people would mix into a drink to say they mixed it in. When I had a drink involving honey it did not mix well with the alcohol and just became one of those drinks that I only half finish and get something else instead.


@matthewc23 - I understand how you and Emilski do not like honey in your drinks, but I feel that is a matter of personal opinion.

What the focus should be on is whether to use honey or just darker alcohol to make a dirty mojito. I would say it would simply be easier to use a darker rum in order to make a dirty mojito in your home. However, if someone were at a bar it may be easier for the bartender to simply use honey. Some people like the sweeter taste you get by adding honey to an alcoholic beverage, and I believe that just saying to not add honey to a drink is just a matter of personal taste.


@Emilski - I also would not recommend using honey for a dirty mojito. A mojito is already a pretty sweet drink in the first place and using honey will just make the drink taste even sweeter. That, mixed in with the alcohol, can make the drink not taste very good and maybe even lead to an unpleasant experience like you had.


I would never recommend using honey to make a dirty mojito. Honey is very sweet and when it is mixed with alcohol it can be a very bad combination. I once tried it and got sick simply because the honey was a bad combination with the drink, but that is just coming from my personal experience.

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