via The New York Times

In an undated image provided to The New York Times, a nojito, an alcohol-free mojito, at the Cheeca Lodge, a resort in the Florida Keys. Mint contributes refreshing coolness to food and drink, often with a bittersweet edge and sometimes spiked with notes of pepper.

By Florence Fabricant, The New York Times

Mint has a great deal to say. This persistent perennial contributes refreshing coolness to food and drink, often with a bittersweet edge and sometimes spiked with notes of pepper.

It’s not subtle like some herbs, and makes its presence known in everything from cocktails to candy, regardless of whether the context is savory or sweet. Frankly, it’s hard to overdo its use. Mint is also easy to grow in a window box or garden, allowing for leaves to always be on hand, especially come spring.

There are various kinds of mint, but the default option is spearmint, which is less aggressive on the palate than peppermint. If you purchase cut mint at a produce counter or farmers market, just be sure it has a good aroma. As for dried mint on the spice rack, it’s often used in Persian cooking, but it’s a ghost of the fresh kind.

Mint is a wonderful flavor to enrich warm-weather coolers. Among the best drinks on the cocktail menu at Cheeca Lodge, a resort in the Florida Keys, is a nojito, an alcohol-free mojito that’s so tart-sweet and fragrant you might not miss the rum. Mint also stars in Moroccan-style tea, usually served sugared and hot but also delicious iced, and can add a cool dimension to smoothies.

Refreshment is on the way.

Blueberry Nojito

Adapted from Cheeca Lodge, Islamorada, Florida

Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 1 serving

Ingredients

  • 8 spearmint leaves
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 5 tablespoons simple syrup (see note)
  • 6 blueberries
  • 4 ounces club soda
  • Lime wedge for garnish

Preparation

1. Lightly crush mint leaves and place in a cocktail mixing glass with lime juice and simple syrup. Fill with ice. Cover with shaker can and shake for 10 seconds.

2. Pour into a tall glass (a Collins glass) and add blueberries. Top with club soda, garnish with lime wedge and serve.

Note: To make simple syrup, simmer equal quantities sugar and water until the sugar dissolves. Keep refrigerated.

Iced Moroccan-Style Mint Tea

Time: 20 minutes plus 1 hour chilling

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon Chinese full-leaf green tea, preferably gunpowder
  • 1/2 cup spearmint leaves, packed, plus sprigs for garnish
  • 1/4 cup honey, or more to taste

Preparation