Indispensable in mojitos and juleps, and generally useful in any drink that combines fruit and alcohol, mint adds a little botanical complexity to what can otherwise taste like a juice box for adults.
Look for spearmint, not peppermint or any other kind of mint. Grab ‘Kentucky Colonel’ if you can; it produces large, fragrant leaves and isn’t quite as invasive as other mints. Keep it in a pot against the house where it gets some protection from frost and you’ll probably have mint all year long. ‘Mojito Mint’ is another good variety to try–according to the catalog copy, it comes to us courtesy of tourists visiting Cuba who had the courage to pluck a sprig of mint from their drinks and bring it home. That’s right, it’s the authentic Cuban cultivar, only recently cultivated for sale in the nursery trade. You can get it from Territorial.
To keep it from spreading, grow it in a pot (you can bury the pot in the ground, leaving 2-3 inches of the rim aboveground, if you prefer), or plant it in one of those small areas hemmed in by concrete on all sides that everybody seems to have around their house somewhere. Give it regular water, and cut off an entire stalk, not individual leaves, when you’re ready to use it. If, after a few years, the mint starts to seem tough and bitter, dump the whole thing out of the pot, extract a few young side shoots, and re-pot just those shoots. The new plant will be sweet and tender again.