Memorial Day weekend is the official kickoff of the bootleg season. Bootlegs are Minnesota’s version of a Mint Julep/Mojito (favored by the Kentucky Derby crowd) and one of our state’s best kept summer cocktail secrets.
The recipe varies from place to place, as does the actual origin of the drink. Many country clubs in town sell bottles of their own bootleg mix, and these vary in color from swampy (fresh mint) to bright green (food coloring), but the basics are lime/lemonade, fresh mint and simple syrup.
I put one can of limeade in a blender with as much fresh mint as I can fit (remove the bitter stems). As I blend, I add a bit of water until the blender is about 80 percent full. I 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 refrigerator and refill it as summer goes along.
Fill a tall glass with ice. Add 1.5 oz. of your favorite rum, vodka or gin. Add Bootleg mix to about 3/4 full. Fill the glass with club soda or 7UP. Garnish with a mint sprig.
John F. Farrell III is vice president; sales and merchandising with Haskell’s The Wine People. Find more at haskells.com.