Mojito Vs Mint Julep: What Are The Major Differences?

A mojito and mint julep may look similar but they taste almost entirely different and are also made very differently. Mojito may be the more popular drink, but the Mint Julep is deeply ingrained in Southern culture and has become synonymous with the Kentucky Derby, where it is traditionally served in silver julep cups filled with crushed ice. In the Southern states of America, the julep is a staple party beverage that has come to represent southern hospitality. 

The Mojito is closely tied to Cuban culture and was first popularised in Havana's vibrant bars and cafes. The Mojito's refreshing flavour and lightness have contributed to its widespread popularity around the world. Here are the key differences between the two drinks.

The Mojito is older

The Mojito traces its roots back to Cuba, where it was first created in the early 16th century. The exact origins of the Mojito are somewhat unclear, but it is believed to have been inspired by a medicinal drink made with lime, sugar, and mint that sailors consumed to prevent scurvy. Over time, rum was added to the mix, and the Mojito became a popular cocktail in Cuba and beyond, particularly during the Prohibition era in the United States.

The Mint Julep has its origins in the southern United States, particularly in Kentucky, where it has been associated with the Kentucky Derby since the late 18th century. Originally consumed as a morning pick-me-up, the Mint Julep evolved into a cocktail made with bourbon, sugar, water, and fresh mint. It became the official drink of the Kentucky Derby in 1938 and has since become an iconic symbol of Southern hospitality.

The base ingredients are different

The traditional Mint Julep is made with bourbon, fresh mint, sugar, and water. Bourbon is the key ingredient in a Mint Julep, providing its distinctive caramel notes and smooth finish. The mint leaves are muddled with sugar to release their essential oils and flavour. The classic Mojito is made with white rum, fresh mint, lime juice, sugar, and soda water. 

Rum is the primary spirit in a Mojito, imparting its characteristic sweetness and depth of flavour. The mint leaves are muddled with sugar and lime juice to release their aroma and flavour, and the cocktail is topped off with soda water.

A mojito is usually quicker

To make a Mint Julep, fresh mint leaves are gently muddled with sugar in the bottom of a glass or silver julep cup to release their oils and aroma. Crushed or shaved ice is then added to the glass, followed by bourbon and a splash of water. The cocktail is stirred until well-chilled and garnished with a sprig of fresh mint. The preparation of a Mojito begins by muddling fresh mint leaves with sugar and lime juice in the bottom of a glass. Crushed ice is then added to the glass, followed by white rum. The cocktail is topped off with soda water and stirred gently to combine. A lime wedge and mint sprig are often used as garnishes.

A mint julep tastes sharper

The Mint Julep has a bold and robust flavour profile, with the caramel and vanilla notes of bourbon complemented by the refreshing aroma of fresh mint. The sugar adds sweetness and balance to the cocktail, while the water helps to dilute the strength of the bourbon. The Mojito has a lighter and more citrusy flavour profile, with the sweetness of rum balanced by the tartness of lime and the freshness of mint. The sugar provides sweetness and depth of flavour, while the soda water adds effervescence and lightness to the cocktail.