Mint Syrup and a Mojito

The photo doesn’t do it justice. This is hands-down the most refreshing summer drink ever. California lemons … mint plucked fresh from the garden … lotsa ice … and this mint syrup from the River Cottage Preserves Handbook. I made a batch of it a few weeks ago and have splashed it here and there — into iced tea, into lemonade, and one morning into a hot mint tea.

Anyone who’s a gardener will understand if you plant mint, you don’t end up with a nice little patch: you’ve got a mint monster on your hands, a rapacious, cunning runner of a plant that sneaks into the most unlikely places when you’re not paying attention. The root systems are complex and virtually indestructible and manage to overwinter quite nicely, thank you. Nurture one little sprig in a water glass on the counter, throw it thoughtlessly into an untended spot in the garden and whammo, it’s a mint-infused life.

But hoo boy, this beverage is the bomb — and it uses quite a bit of mint. I grabbed a good handful of mint sprigs and stripped them of their leaves, yielding a generous cup of fresh minty goodness. I put it in the blender with about a half-cup of lemon juice then thought, why not sweeten it with mint, too? Inspirational! I used a goodly amount of the mint syrup – about ¾ c. in all – and a cup or so of crushed ice. Whirred it around until it was pureed then strained out the pulp.

I got a good pint of mint lemonade concentrate, nice served all by itself. But throw in a little rum – or vodka, my preference (I know that’s not a true Mojito but okay, call me a rebel) and you’ve got a refreshing, relaxing, summer-evening-kind-of-drink to lull you past the heat.

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