Mint is, in all honesty, one of the best spring investments you can make.
No, not Mint.com — that’s a given. Mint as in, the herb.
For as little as $2.50 per pot at a farmer’s market, you’ll have years of bounty.
The perennial is hardy: Frugal Foodie has had the same pot on her balcony going on five years now. (Mint can be invasive too, taking over the garden if you put it in a bed with other plants.)
Growing your own is a much better bet than buying fresh from the supermarket, where a tiny clam shell costs $2 and loses its pep within days.
There are also numerous mint varieties beyond a basic mint, if you feel like getting adventurous.
Frugal Foodie likes chocolate and ginger mints, and there are also pineapple, orange and apple, among others.
Even if you’re not much of a chef, mint is a great investment for bar purposes alone. Used fresh or steeped to make simple syrups or liquors, mint works in a range of cheap cocktails.
We asked cocktail aficionados for their best options. Here are 7 to try:
Strawberry Mint Champagne Cocktail
Mint-infused syrup provides a little zing in this recipe from Michelle Maskaly of “The Adirondack Chick.”
Want a mintier flavor? Just add more syrup to counterbalance the strawberries, she says.
Minty Cucumber Gin & Tonic
Gardening app Sprout it came up with this combo that uses primarily garden-fresh ingredients: In the bottom of a highball glass, muddle a few fresh mint leaves and some thinly sliced English cucumber.
Fill glass with ice, pour in two ounces of gin (they like Watershed’s Bourbon Barrel gin) and top with tonic. “Stir once and garnish with mint and a lime wedge,” says a spokesman.
Berry Mint Crush
If you like wine coolers, this cocktail uses a Seagram’s Escapes Strawberry Daiquiri.
Muddle fresh mint leaves with ice and sliced strawberries. Add five ounces of the Seagram’s Escapes, 1.5 ounces gin and two ounces club soda.
Mineral water, rum and fresh mint make for a fast, easy cocktail from Greg Mays, the editor of Simple-Cocktails.com.
Watermelon Mint Margarita
“We used to run this as a special from time to time and it was very popular on hot Georgia nights,” says Tim Stewart of Agave in Atlanta.
To make, pull apart two large mint leaves and place in glass with ice.
In a shaker, combine 1.5 ounces premium silver tequila (Agave uses Herradura Silver), 3 ounces fresh watermelon pulp, 0.5 ounce fresh lime juice and a splash of sweet & sour. Shake and pour over ice, and garnish with a lime.
Mint Whiskey Cocktail
Spirits store Total Wine & More came up with this recipe using mint, whiskey and a summer staple: lemonade.
Mojito-flavored Polar seltzer and peppermint schnapps super-size the mint flavor in this cocktail.
To make, muddle fresh mint leaves, and top with crushed ice. Add two ounces light rum, 0.5 ounce peppermint schnapps, 0.5 ounce lemon vodka, and 3 ounces Mojito seltzer.
Top with a lime wedge.
Frugal Foodie is a journalist based in New York City who spends her days writing about personal finance and obsessing about what she’ll have for dinner. Chat with her on Twitter through @MintFoodie.