The Reason You Should Smack Mint Leaves Before Adding To Drinks

Mint is one of those herbs that can instantly liven up almost any drink. Whether it's hot or iced tea, lemonade, or just plain water, the subtly sweet, and chilling bite of mint serves as a flavorful addition. Cocktails, in particular, really benefit from mint. What would a mint julep or a mojito be without the freshness of mint? But where mint is a main ingredient in these two cocktails, there is something to be said for utilizing it as a simple garnish. Just remember to smack the leaves before you add them in.

Far from serving as a simple ornament, a mint garnish actually serves a flavorful purpose in a cocktail. It lifts the flavors of the other ingredients, without losing itself to them. Smacking mint is different from muddling in that you're not mashing the mind directly into the drink. Instead, you're letting the mint speak for itself without taking over the show.

When you smack the mint, you release the essential oils inside of the leaves. The oils are, after all, what gives the mint its flavor. Once added to the drink, the mint oils will infuse just enough for you to taste it. If you neglect to smack the leaves before adding them to the drink, all you're doing is adding visual appeal to the drink. Mint cannot provide its classic flavor if it isn't first agitated in some way. Fortunately, smacking the leaves is one of the easiest ways to do this. 

How to smack mint leaves

There is no great secret to smacking mint leaves in order to wake them up and allow their flavor to permeate a cocktail. Simply take a few sprigs of mint, lay them flat in one hand, then take your free hand and smack downwards in one good clap. The only finesse here is in how hard you hit. You want to hit hard enough for the leaves to release their oils, but not so hard as to bruise them. Mint is eager to release its oils, so it doesn't take much. If your hands smell wonderfully minty after smacking, you've done the job right.

Apart from the flavor, mint leaves also offer a wonderful visual component to a cocktail. The green leaves set against the vibrant or muted colors of a cocktail make for one beautiful drink. And mint does have its fair share of applications in the cocktail world. Obviously, there's the mojito and the mint julep, but other drinks like gin mules, whiskey smashes, gimlets, Cuban cocktails, gin and tonics, and even something like a nice limeade will all benefit from a garnish of mint.

So, whether you buy or grow some specifically for cocktail use, or are just looking for a way to liven up your standard glass of water, give the mint leaves a good smack. You can giggle about it afterward while you're sipping your refreshing drink.