Mint Juleps and Springtime Cocktails!

One of my favorite ways to celebrate the warmer weather is with delicious springtime cocktails.  Our Produce Department has beautiful, fresh spearmint and a juicy assortment of fruits and colorful berries to mix beverages that family and friends will rave about.  These drinks are known as “smashes” – the fresh mint and other ingredients are muddled or crushed in preparation for flavoring the finished drink.  Muddling releases essential oils and juices adding intensity and interest to the palate.

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You can use a wooden muddler if one is available or a wooden spoon as a substitute when smashing your herbs and fruits.  Spearmint is mellow and refreshing, with a sweet, sharp, pleasantly pungent flavor backed by hints of lemon.  We also have potted peppermint, chocolate mint and pineapple mint that you can plant in the ground or grow in containers on your patio or windowsill.  Chocolate mint, which grows well in damp soil, is excellent in desserts, in the Koala Mojito (recipe below) or try adding its dried leaves to fresh brewed coffee!  Pineapple mint is a sweet variety that is well suited to an indoor herb garden and looks beautiful as a garnish due to its variegated leaves.

Whether you like your “poison” traditional (mint julep, anyone?) or contemporary (how about a lemongrass mojito?), these easy-to-mix recipes will satisfy the thirstiest guests on a sunshiny day.

Traditional Mint Julep

makes one cocktail

  • 12 to 15 fresh mint leaves, plus one sprig for garnish
  • 1 ounce peach syrup
  • 2 1/2 ounces bourbon
  • Superfine sugar

1) Place mint and 1/4 ounce peach syrup in julep cup or 8- to 10-ounce old-fashioned glass and gently crush leaves with a wooden muddler, working them up sides of glass.

2) Loosely pack glass with finely crushed ice, then add bourbon. Drizzle remaining peach syrup on top and garnish with mint sprig lightly dusted with sugar.

Lemongrass Mojito

makes one pitcher

  • 5-6 lemongrass stalks
  • 10 limes; 9 juiced, 1 for garnish
  • Fresh mint (about thirty leaves or so)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 cup white rum
  • Club soda, chilled

1) Remove any tough outer leaves and the bulb and microwave lemongrass for 30 seconds or so. Cut 6 inches off the bottom of each stalk and slice that very thinly.

2) Combine lemongrass, mint and sugar in the bottom of a pitcher and mash with muddler or wooden spoon.

3) Add the rum, lime juice, lots of ice and top with club soda (more or less to taste) and stir well.

4) Garnish glasses with mint sprigs, lime wedges and the tops of the lemongrass stalks.

Kiwi Capiroska
Makes 6

  • 2 cups kiwi, peeled and diced
  • 12 mint leaves, divided
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 3 limes, juiced
  • 2 cups high quality vodka
  • 2 cups tonic water
  • ice cubes
  • garnish: 1 kiwi, peeled and thinly sliced

1) Line six glasses up and fill each with 1/3 cup of diced kiwis, 2 mint leaves, 1 teaspoon sugar, and ½ lime juiced.
2) Muddle together the contents of each glass until fully combined.
3) Fill each glass with ice and top off with 1/3 cup vodka and 1/3 cup tonic water.
4). Stir, finish each with a kiwi garnish and serve.

Raspberry-Mint Cocktail

1 Part lemon-flavored vodka (about an ounce and a half)
Lemon-Lime Soda
6 whole Raspberries
4 whole mint leaves
1 lime wedge

Muddle raspberry and mint leaf in a highball glass.  Fill with ice cubes.  Add lemon-flavored vodka. Fill with lemon-lime soda.  Stir.  Garnish with lime.

Koala Mojito

  • 1 oz. of eucalyptus syrup
  • 2 oz. of rum
  • 8-10 mint leaves
  • 1 oz of lime juice
  • lemon-lime soda

1)  Place mint leaves in the glass, and add eucalyptus syrup. Begin to press the leaves with the muddler, and continue to muddle until the mint leaves are mashed well into the syrup.

2)  Add lime juice. Stir the lime juice well until it is combined with the mint and eucalyptus.

3)  Add rum to the mix. Stir well.

4)  Add a splash of Sprite or seltzer. This will give it a fizz and make it a bit more interesting.

5)  Add a few mint leaves to the top of the drink.