Mojitos just scream warm weather.
The bright lime, refreshing mint, and cool rum… There is nothing better to combat the sticky heat.
But while the traditional version is a classic for a reason, it can still be fun to shake things up every once in a while.
Enter: the tomatillo. Just a splash of this tart juice will take your drink to a whole new level!
These tangy green (or yellow, or sometimes purple!) relatives of tomatoes and eggplants are sometimes mistaken for unripe tomatoes. But tomatillos are most readily recognized by their husk, something tomatoes simply don’t have.
Native to Central America, they are best known as the base in salsa verde, and chili verde. The fruit is tasty both fresh and cooked, but its tart flavor shines through most prominently when they’re fresh.
They work nicely in a mojito, as the tart juice pairs brilliantly with lime. If you want to sweeten things up, you can muddle a few pieces of mango as well. But in my home, the straight tomatillo method reigns supreme.
This drink is excellent for cooling yourself down by the pool, or serving at a cookout or dinner party. Try it with a few other foods out there that are known to cool you down in summer….and just chill out.
Cooking By the Numbers…
To Make the Juice:
Step One – Peel and Rinse
Peel and discard the husks of the fruit. The husks will leave a sticky residue on the skins (and there might be some dirt under there, too), which you can rinse off with cool water.
Some grocery stores or markets sell tomatillos that have already been peeled, but you should be sure to give them a good rinse anyway, as with all types of produce.
Step Two – Chop and Blend
Chop the fruit into 3-4 pieces and blend until smooth. While the fruit might not appear juicy, once you start blending it will release its juices pretty quickly! In my low-powered blender, I was able to blend thoroughly without any additional water.
Something like the Vitamix 5200 or a Blendtech should be able to handle this with ease.
If your blender is struggling, try adding water a tablespoon at a time. Just remember – any additional water is only watering down your final drink.
Alternatively, if you own a juicer, you can pass the fruit through the juicer instead, and skip steps two and three.
Step Three – Strain
Pour your blended fruit through a strainer to strain out the seeds and some of the fibrous pulp.
You can discard the seeds and pulp – they will make a happy addition to your compost pile! – or add them to a batch of salsa verde or chili.
To Make Your Cocktails:
If you’d like to make a pitcher at a time, multiply the single serving recipe by four (or more) and proceed as directed.
Step One – Muddle
Muddle the mint, lime, tomatillo juice, and sugar in the bottom of your cocktail shaker, highball glass, or pitcher.
Muddling releases the oils in the mint, adding more complexity to your drink. If you want to test what a huge difference this makes, try making one drink by just stirring your ingredients together instead.
Taste the muddled and stirred versions side by side, and you will never minimize the power of muddling again!
Building your mojito in a cocktail shaker is not necessary, since most of the flavor comes from the muddling process. If you have one, it is fun to use. But you can just as easily build the drink straight into your cup, or a pitcher if you’re making enough for a group to enjoy.
Step Two – Shake or Stir
Add the ice and rum. The exact amount of ice is up to you. I like to use 4 medium-sized cubes so that I have enough to cool the drink, but not so much that I risk watering it down.
If you are using a cocktail shaker, place the lid securely on top and shake, shake, shake! Then pour into your serving glasses. Don’t strain the mixture – you want to be sure to keep that mint and ice.
If you are working in a glass or pitcher, just stir everything together with a long-handled spoon.
Step Three – Add Soda and Garnish
Top your drink with a splash of club soda, and it is ready to go. If you prefer a weaker drink, feel free to add more soda. If you want it a bit stronger, bring on a bit more rum!
If you’re feeling super fancy, you can garnish the drink with a few extra sprigs of mint. Enhancing your ability to enjoy the aroma of this herb as you sip your drink will bring out more of its flavor.
Happy hour can’t come soon enough with this treat on the menu!
If I were you, I’d head straight to the market to pick up some vibrant tomatillos. You’ll want to make this drink tonight.
Looking for something a bit tangier? Try mixing your mojito with homemade rhubarb syrup.
Not in a mojito mood? Try a green version of our Spicy Bloody Mary with DIY pepper-infused vodka – just sub tomatillo juice for the fresh tomato juice. Or explore these enticing apple and booze cocktail combos.
Let us know in the comments what dishes you might pair with this refreshing drink!
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Photos by Kendall Vanderslice, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details.
About Kendall Vanderslice
Kendall’s love of food has taken her around the world. From baking muffins on a ship in West Africa and milking cows with Tanzanian Maasai, to hunting down the finest apfelstrudel in Austria, she continually seeks to understand the global impact of food. Kendall holds a BA in Anthropology from Wheaton College and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University, and has worked in the pastry departments of many of Boston’s top kitchens. Based in Somerville, Massachusetts, Kendall helps to run a small community supported bread bakery and writes about the intersection of food, faith, and culture on her personal blog, A Vanderslice of the Sweet Life.