By Debra McDuffee
The mint in my yard is running wild just about now, begging to be plucked and used. That sure is handy, since it's hot outside! I could really use some cooling fresh mint in my beverages, to combat this sweltering heat.
I'm sure you must also have some peppermint essential oil around the house, right? You've got to have some left over, after making your chocolate mint lip balm and ant repellent, so pull it out and add some cool to your summer drinks.
After the break, I'll share recipes for simple syrup with mint, which can be used for a number of summery delights, and other refreshing minty recipes to keep your beverages interesting -- as well as hydrating.
Minty simple syrup
Minty drinks(click thumbnails to view gallery)
This sweet concoction is made from sugar, water, and mint leaves. You can store it in the fridge for about two weeks, so make up a batch using the following recipe (based on this one from the Food Network
Chop the mint leaves. Boil the first 3 ingredients and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Boil gently for another 2 minutes. Strain your syrup, but squish all the yumminess out of the mint leaves as you do. Add the essential oil -- if it is organic and from a reputable source -- and use in the following drink recipes.
- 1 1/2 cups packed fresh mint leaves
- 1 cup organic sugar or honey (or 1/4 cup agave nectar)
- 1 cup water
- 2 drops peppermint essential oil (optional)
- 1 drop spearmint essential oil (optional)
One of my favorite trips, about twelve years ago now, was to New Orleans, Louisiana. One day, we took a bus tour to the old plantations and we enjoyed the most spectacular mint juleps -- oh, and sight-seeing! -- at Oak Alley Plantation
. They graciously have their famous mint julep recipe
on their website.
Essentially, put one ounce of minty simple syrup into a glass, fill with crushed ice, swirl, add bourbon, and garnish with mint leaves. If you want a non-alcoholic mint julep, leave out the bourbon and use lime juice and lemonade instead, Disney
Or, try the alternate recipe, infusing bourbon with fresh mint, that is depicted in the gallery below.
If mint juleps are my all-time favorite mint drink, mojitos are my new-found love. The combination of lime and mint beats all for refreshing tastes. According to my cousin (who makes a kickin' mojito), the magic ratio is:
- 1 part lime
- 1 part minty simple syrup (you don't have to strain the mint out for the traditional mojito)
- 2 parts light rum
- 4 parts (or to taste) club soda (I like lime seltzer for that extra lime-y tartness)
Pout it all over ice and enjoy. Just leave out the rum if you want a delicious non-alcoholic minty limeade.
Citrus mint cooler
Make this pitcher of non-alcoholic lemonade with a twist, based on a recipe from Cooking Light.
's The Complete Cooking Light Cookbook
- 1 cup minty simple syrup
- 2 cups fresh lemon juice (or the juice of about 12 lemons)
- 1 bottle (33.8 ounce) club soda (try one with a lime or lemon twist for more citrus flavor)
Mix all of the ingredients in a pitcher, and add some lemon and orange slices and some fresh mint leaves. Beautiful and refreshing! Add an extra citrus blast by using orange mint to make your minty simple syrup, or squeeze in the juice of one orange.
For other drink recipes using minty simple syrup and fresh mint, visit Drink Swap's Drinks Made with Mint