It's time to revive the cocktail that bartenders used to (wrongly) hate.
2 oz. silver rum
0.75 oz. fresh lime juice
0.75 oz. simple syrup
10-12 mint leaves
Add all ingredients to cocktail shaker and shake. In a tall glass, gently muddle an additional three to five mint leaves. Shake the cocktail and strain into the glass over fresh ice. Top with 1 to 2 oz. soda water. Garnish with two mint crowns (the top of the plant) twisted together to form a bushy mint explosion on top.
NOTES ON INGREDIENTS
Mint: To muddle, or not to muddle. Many if not most recipes online will have you muddle the mint, which just means to smush it with a stick. They then build the drink in the glass without shaking, just adding ingredients and ice and then you’re done. This has the benefit of keeping the mint in the glass, which continues to add mintiness over time, but it’s also warm—it’s the shaking that chills everything down. You can do this if you want, but make sure the glass is ice cold from the freezer, the soda water is as cold as possible, and you’re using crushed ice, which will chill the whole system down faster.
The easier and (I think) better way is to just throw the rum, lime, mint and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker and shake it. This has two benefits—first, it makes everything quite a bit colder and second, the mint gets beaten up by the ice and has a much fuller initial presence in the drink itself.
That makes a fine drink all its own. The one thing I’d append is to reiterate that the cocktail seems to get more minty over time if it sits on the leaves, so if you love that note, consider muddling a few extra leaves in the bottom of the glass you’ll strain the drink into. That way, you’re not pouring shredded shaken bits of mint into your glass, but you still get the full experience of that cooling minty exhale.
Rum: Use a light, white Spanish-style rum here. Havana Club would be the gold standard, but best of luck finding it. My favorites in this cocktail are Flor de Cana 4-year White Rum or Ron Matusalem. Bacardi or Cruzan would also work. What I look for here is the type of rum that behaves like a tropical vodka, basically, not bringing too much character of its own, to let the mint and lime speak. My goal for Mojitos is always maximum refreshment, so while I look for a rum with more character for Daiquiris, in Mojitos, I mostly want the rum to get out of the way.
Simple Syrup: Equal parts sugar and water and stir until the sugar dissolves. If you’re using an extremely light rum like the ones listed above, the cocktail benefits—minorly but discernibly—from a Demerara syrup, which is to say, using less refined sugar instead of white sugar to make your simple syrup. Honestly though, while it is better, don’t go too far out of your way—it’s not that important.
Soda Water: Keep it cold and as carbonated as you can find. San Pellegrino and Perrier are nice for lunch, but nowhere near carbonated enough for cocktail work. Your local grocery store probably has their self-branded cans which do the trick nicely, or for a little street cred, bottles of the hipster-favorite Topo Chico are now widely available.