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.
- 4 medium-sized tomatillos
- 8 mint leaves plus a few sprigs for garnish
- 1 ounce lime juice
- 1 ounce tomatillo juice
- 1 teaspoon granulated Sugar
- 4 ice cubes
- 2 ounces light rum
- 2 ounces club soda
- Peel and discard the husks of the fruit. Rinse clean under cool water.
- Roughly chop the fruit and blend in a blender or food processor until smooth.
- Pass through a strainer and discard the seeds.
- Muddle the mint, lime juice, tomatillo juice, and sugar in the bottom of a cocktail shaker, cup, or pitcher.
- Add the ice and rum. If using a cocktail shaker, place the lid on it and shake. Pour everything into a highball glass – you want to keep the mint and ice in the drink! If using a cup or pitcher, just stir together.
- Top with club soda. Garnish with an extra sprig of mint if desired, and serve!
The proportions in this recipe are for one cocktail. To make a pitcher, multiply the ingredients by four (or more!)
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.
Check out our round-up of salsa recipes from some of our favorite bloggers here.
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.
Want to offer your guests another fresh alternative? Try this version, made with chocolate mint. Or this one, with fresh mint and lime ice cubes that won’t water down your drink.
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.
For some similar non-alcoholic options, explore our mint, lime, and ginger splash as well as the nimbu pani: India’s alcohol-free answer to the mojito for beating the heat.
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.
6 thoughts on “The Tomatillo-jito: A Tart Twist on a Minty Classic Cocktail”
I’ve really tried to like kale, but it’s truly awful stuff. I love crisps, but I couldn’t stomach them made from kale!
You may want to try to read the recipe or any part of the article for that matter. Kale is not mentioned or included anywhere. You probably mistook the mint for kale. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a drink made with kale.
However, three of my all-time favorite ingredients–mint, tomatillos, and lime are in this interesting drink recipe. While I have never used tomatillos in a drink before, they are included in my family-favorite salsa and more than one Tex Mex dish that has made it on our menu rotation. I can’t wait to make this for the first time.
Tomatillos are really common here in México, and as you’ve said they are always there when it comes to salsas and just green food in general like caldos and even enchiladas, I know them better by the name tomatitos verdes, lol! I used to spend literally hours peeling them when I was a kid, I can still remember the stickiness on my fingers. As a mojito enthusiast, this is actually a great idea, tomatillos have this nice and sightly acid flavor that just makes them perfect for this type of drink.
Thanks for sharing!
Well that just sounds outright delicious and refreshing. I do like the traditional mojito,and i general I really enjoy things that are tart, so this really sounds like something right up my alley. The best fit though is with this weather, because it is crazy hot and humid here and a nice, cool cocktail always seems to hit the spot and help to beat the heat, and catch a little buzz.
I had more mojitos this summer than I would like to admit, I feel guilty about it because they’re so good when you’re at the beach or just relaxing on the balcony. This tomatillo one looks delicious, I even have a blender so it will make the process easier.
To be completely honest this just sounds like a way to make rum more palatable on a hot day. Alcohol is about one of the worst things you can inflict on your body in the heat and there isn’t much point to trying this one as a mock-tail. Sorry, but I’ll take a pass on this one. It’s not for me.