The month of May is a very special time here in Minnesota. Memorial weekend is the official kick off of bootleg season! Bootlegs are Minnesota’s twist on a mint julep by way of a mojito. Whether you’re looking for something to sip on during the Kentucky Derby or simply want a refreshing beverage to pair with some time on the patio, bootlegs are a delicious Minnesota treat!
The recipe varies from place to place, as does the origin story of the drink. Many country clubs in town will sell bottles of their own bootleg mix—which vary in color from swampy looking (true mint) to bright green (food coloring)—but the basics are the same: lemon or limeade, mint and simple syrup.
I personally put one can of limeade in a blender with as much fresh mint as I can fit. Be sure to remove as many of those bitter stems as you can. As I blend, I add a bit of water until the blender is about 80 percent full. I then add about 1/2 cup of simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar, simmered until the sugar blends in) to smooth it out. I store this in the fridge, and refill my pitcher as summer goes along.
- Fill a tall glass with ice
- Add your favorite rum, vodka or gin (1.5 oz.)
- Add bootleg mix to about 3/4 full
- Add club soda to top (or 7UP if you like it sweet)
- Garnish with a mint sprig
John F. Farrell III is vice president in sales and merchandising with Haskell’s The Wine People.
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