On a sweltering summer evening, nothing hits quite like a mojito with its blast of fresh mint and fizzy finish. Like many classic cocktails, it has a storied (if murky, in this case) history. Some say it descends from a similar drink called “El Draque.” Others argue that this rum cocktail started among Cuba’s rural farm workers, and from there traveled to Havana’s bars where American tourists first tried it. Among those tipplers was famously (or allegedly, depending upon who you ask) Ernest Hemingway.
There’s no official word on whether Hemingway actually drank mojitos and if he did, which recipe he liked, but this one keeps things classic. Muddling, or gently bruising two mint sprigs in the simple syrup before shaking helps release the herb’s oils, which gives the drink its refreshing factor. Crush the leaves gently (press down, twist, repeat x 4) just until the smell of mint wafts up from the shaker. Too much muddling can turn a drink bitter. Don’t worry if the mint leaves tear apart in this process, they will be strained out. Serving the drink with large ice cubes helps keep it cold and strong on the hottest of days. For the garnish, smack a fresh sprig of mint between your palms to help release its aroma before adding it to the tall Collins glass.
Editor’s note: This recipe was originally published in April 2016.