Among the most widely used herb in cocktails, Mint owes its popularity to its longstanding history of use as everything from a restorative to a flavoring. Introduced to England by the Romans, Mint was frequently used as an early medicine and that continues today in the form of Mint cocktails including everything from the Mint Julep to the Mojito.
Although commonly referred to as simply Mint, there are two distinct common varieties that differ dramatically in flavor: Spearmint and Peppermint. Frankly most mint cocktail recipes don’t distinguish between the two, so it’s up to you to choose. Typically I use Spearmint based on the difference in flavor.
What Does Mint Taste Like?
With the understanding that taste is subjective, let’s look at the two different types of mint to nail down their specific flavors and the overall characteristics of Mint. While their flavors are similar, there are distinct differences.
Spearmint has a crisp, clean, refreshing flavor that lends itself well to a variety of uses. Sweeter and more delicate than its cousin, Spearmint is particularly well suited to combinations that involve fruit. Moreover there are a number of different varieties of Spearmint that offer subtle tastes of apple, chocolate and pineapple. With such versatility, it’s no wonder why Spearmint is so popular.
Although Peppermint has a similar flavor profile it contains menthol, which gives it a stronger flavor and a cooling sensation on the palate. Consider the flavor of a candy cane, which is much stronger than the more subtle Spearmint. As you might conclude, Peppermint may be the best choice for mint cocktails using more strongly flavored spirits. Lastly Peppermint has its own set of flavored varieties too, including orange, chocolate, ginger and grapefruit.
Spearmint vs. Peppermint: The Differences
Identifying the difference between Spearmint and Peppermint can get tricky, but here are some general rules of thumb:
Crush a Couple Leaves – Generally you’ll be able to detect the menthol in Peppermint
Sharper Serrations – The edges of Peppermint leaves are more sharply serrated, while serrations of Spearmint leaves are more rounded.
Shades of Green – Spearmint tends to be a brighter green, while Peppermint is darker in color
Needless to say the flavors of Mint can vary based on the type and the variety, so keep that in mind. I’m not an expert but if you have a choice regarding the type of mint to use for cocktail, it may be wise to consider the spirit to be used as well as any accompanying ingredients.
How to Pronounce Mint
What kind of friends would we be if I didn’t give you a clue as to how to pronounce this term? Certainly native English speakers may find it easy, but for our overseas readers here it is:
Mint Cocktails: Refreshing Warm Weather Treat
Fresh mint cocktails are made for warmer weather; light and refreshing, they’ll the ideal tonic to lift anyone’s spirits. Better yet the flavor of Mint is almost universally enjoyed, so you’re sure to make a cocktail choice that the majority of your guests will like. As we mentioned earlier just be sure to clean your herbs just before service to ensure that it will be of the highest quality.
2 Mint Cocktail Recipes to Get You Started
There’s a variety of great cocktails that use mint and it’s tough to select two. Since we’ve already covered How to Make a Mint Julep, we’ll pass on that classic to search out some alternatives that are equally delicious but may not get quite as much publicity. In addition, they’re also super easy to make so you’ll look like a star when it’s time to serve your guests.
An ideal mint cocktail for the home gardener, The Cuke was developed by Adam Frank as part of a 2006 New York Times summer drink contest. Intended to use Hendrick’s Gin (lightly flavored with cucumber undertones), vodka can be substituted by Gin-a-phobes. Better yet this recipe yields a batch of 6 cocktails, so you’re ready for any party.
- 3 Limes, Thinly Sliced
- 3 Limes, Juiced
- 1 C. Packed Mint Leaves
- 2 Unwaxed Cucumbers, Sliced
- ½ C. Sugar
- 16 oz. Vodka or Gin (Preferably Hendrick’s Gin)
- Sparkling Water
- 6 Sprigs Cilantro for Garnish
- 1 Unwaxed Cucumber, Peeled & Cut Into 6 Spears
- Add Sliced Limes, Lime Juice, Mint Leaves, 2 Sliced Cucumbers and Sugar to a Pitcher
- Muddle ingredients
- Add Vodka or Gin
- Chill Mixture in Refrigerator for 30+ Minutes
- Serve Drinks by Straining Mixture Into Ice Filled Highball Glass ¾ Full
- Top With a Splash of Sparkling Water
- Garnish With Mint Sprig and Cucumber Spear
Ginger Mint Margarita
I never would have thought that a Mint cocktail with Tequila would be all that good, but I was sorely mistaken. This unique drink is pretty easy to prepare and is quite tasty. So if you want to throw your guests a curveball, this Ginger Mint Margarita will definitely defy expectations.
- 2 Slices Peeled, Fresh Ginger (1/4 inch thick)
- 10 Mint Leaves
- 1 oz Silver Tequila
- 1/2 oz Grand Marnier2
- 1/2 Tsp Fresh Lime Juice
- 1/2 cup ice cubes (small)
- 2 oz. cup ginger beer
- Muddle Ginger, Mint and Lime Juice in a Cocktail Shaker
- Add Tequila, Grand Marnier and Ice. Stir
- Slowly Add Ginger Beer
- Transfer to a Rocks Glass
- Garnish With Mint