I love bourbon. And I love peppermint. I like either one straight. But balanced together and sweetened lightly, they make a seasonal treat I can't pass up.
This procedure uses the sugar to grind/break open the mint cells to release the delicious flavors trapped within. The bourbon brings a lot of complementary flavor, but also helps by dissolving the non-water soluble essential oils.
Some will tell you that you only want to merely to spank the mint, and/or advise you that you don't want to "bruise the mint flavor." You can tell them to go back to listening to their vinyl records on through their camel hair speakers and that you think you can hear their cell phone with the adhesive "amplifier" sticker (as seen on TV!) ringing.
You will need ingredients and tools. And then apply your tools to the ingredients as directed and serve.
Step 1: Ingredients
Bourbon -- about 1 1/2 ounce per glass, but this is your drink. I prefer a balance between sweet and boozy.
This is a situation where you probably won't want to use your finest bourbon. This is a mixed drink and the key is balancing the bourbon, the mint and the sugar. So go for a nicer but not super fancy bottle.
Mint -- 5 or 6 long healthy sprigs from the garden or more, enough leaves to generously stuff an 12 oz glass
Sugar -- ~1 TBSP an ingredient and a tool, the coarser the more abrasive, I like turbinado or demerara sugar but table sugar is sufficient. Powdered sugar may work, but won't help you so much abrading the mint leaves.
Ice -- 8-16oz crushed ice is best, but cubes are satisfactory
Seltzer or Club Soda -- 8-16oz club soda is very neutral, but a flavored seltzer can add a little extra flavor
Step 2: Tools
Boston Shaker -- at least the metal tumbler part, but an ordinary pint glass will work. The metal mates better to a glass for vigorous shaking
Stout Wide Sturdy Glass -- ~12-14oz, this will be the mortar of our mortar and pestle
Metal Serving Glass -- not required to be metal, but customary
Muddler -- this is our pestle, true devotees have a dedicated blunt instruments for crushing the leaves or whatnot, but here the back end of a bamboo spoon works fine
Step 3: Muddling
Pick the prettiest mint sprig, trim to about the height of the serving glass and set it aside.
Strip the leaves off the stems of the rest, and stuff as many of them into your sturdy glass.
Add the sugar on top of the mint leaves, and use your muddler to grind the sugar into the leaves.
Leave no leaf unmuddled. You should notice the leaves will change color. You do not need to completely puree them. In fact, if you leave them each largely in one piece, later as you sip, you won't have much trouble keeping green flotsam out of your mouth.
Step 4: Finishing and Presentation
Once you have reduced the plant to resemble thawed frozen spinach covered in half dissolved sugar, you may add your bourbon. Stir the bourbon with the mint to make sure the alcohol dissolves the oils you and your sugar scrubbing have given it access to. Then shake with the ice.
If you prefer, filter out the now minty liquid from the solids. I do not, but then I eat mint straight from the garden.
Transfer the liquid to the serving glass (chilled if you like, which doesn't matter so much for a metal tumbler).
Add seltzer, to fill the glass.
Put the reserved mint sprig into the glass (remove a few lower leaves as necessary) and serve/enjoy.