The Bootleg Cocktail

A refreshing cocktail made with naturally sweetened lemonade blended with mint, plus vodka or gin and club soda.

Memorial Day weekend snuck up on me again. Do you all have big plans? I hope so. I’m imagining that you will be gallivanting around a lake, perhaps sipping cocktails on a yacht or at minimum, sipping clinking drinks on a patio whilst rocking a pair of white skinny jeans.

Maybe I can accomplish the latter, but I’ll probably spend most of the weekend working, as usual. I have some ambitious blog projects in the works that I can’t wait to share with you all.

lemons, limes and agave nectar

This “bootleg cocktail” will definitely be my summer drink and I hope it becomes yours. I discovered the bootleg at Brit’s Pub in Minneapolis when I went out for an after-dinner drink with Erin and Taylor. It was a chilly spring night, but I couldn’t resist the bar’s signature drink, which was a summery-sounding lemon and mint drink. I ordered mine with bourbon for some warmth and, on first sip, knew that I had to recreate it on the blog.

Juiced lemons and limes -

Basically, if spiked lemonade and a mojito collided in a blender, you would end up with a bootleg. Fresh mint leaves are blended together with fresh lemon and lime juice and natural sweetener. Most bootleg mixes use frozen lemonade/limeade concentrate, but I made mine fresh. Once you have your bootleg mix, just fill a glass with ice and pour in equal parts mix, liquor of choice and fizzy club soda.

You definitely want to serve this drink with a straw, which will serve as a stirring device and help you avoid the awkward mint-bits-stuck-on-teeth thing. I recommend blending up your mint more thoroughly than I did in the pictures, but even then, you’ll need to give the drink a stir every now to redistribute the mint. That’s part of the drink’s appeal, really. It’s a clinky summer sipper.

Limes are in short supply right now, so feel free to add additional lemon juice instead of the lime. My handheld citrus juicer gets every last bit of juice out of lemons and limes, so none goes to waste. Be careful with this drink—the bold lemon-lime flavor masks the taste of alcohol so well, it’s easy to forget that you’re sipping on a strong cocktail!

blended mint lemonadeBootleg cocktail (natural lemonade blended with mint and liquor!) -

The Bootleg Cocktail
Recipe type: Cocktail
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
The Bootleg hails from Minneapolis. It's a refreshing cocktail made with naturally sweetened lemon-limeade blended with mint, plus gin, vodka or bourbon and club soda. Feel free to adjust the amount of sweetener and mint to suit your preferences. You can omit the liquor for a delightful, minty lemonade.
Bootleg mix: lemon/limeade blended with mint, yields enough mix for 4 drinks
  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 large lemons, juiced)
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice (about 1 large or 2 medium limes, juiced) or additional lemon juice
  • ¼ cup light agave nectar or cane sugar or honey*
  • 2 packed tablespoons fresh mint leaves
Per drink (note: 2 ounces is ¼ cup)
  • 2 ounces bootleg mix
  • 2 ounces gin, vodka or bourbon
  • 2 ounces club soda
  1. To make the bootleg mix: Juice the lemons and limes into a liquid measuring cup. Add sweetener. Pour the juice and sweetener into a blender. Add 2 firmly packed tablespoons of fresh mint leaves. Blend thoroughly, until the mint is is broken into teeny tiny bits.
  2. To make the drinks: Fill cocktail glasses with ice. For each drink, pour in 2 ounces of your bootleg mix, plus 2 ounces of your liquor of choice and top with 2 ounces club soda. Serve with a straw, which doubles as a stirring device.
Recipe inspired by Brit's Pub in Minneapolis. Recipe created with guidance from The Bootleg: Minnesota's signature country-club cocktail on City Pages.
*I ran out of agave nectar as I was making these drinks, so I used 2 tablespoons agave nectar and 2 tablespoons cane sugar. You could also use honey, but your drinks will have a strong honey flavor. I preferred a more neutral sweetener here.
Storage tip: The bootleg mix will keep for a couple of days in the refrigerator, but is best served immediately.



    • Mike Tierney says

      The Juicy Luy may have been invented at the 5-8 Club in Mpls but the Bootleg was created at The University Club in St Paul. Most other clubs like Somerset, Minnikahda and Woodhill might also make the claim but the U Club is probably the real deal.

  1. says

    This totally sounds like my kind of drink – I love the sourness of the lemon/lime combo and the freshness of the mint. Enjoy the long weekend and I hope you get a little bit of time at least to relax : )

  2. says

    Oh fantastic. It’s bank holiday weekend across the pond, but I didn’t think ahead and now I’m forced to slum it with wine. Cocktails are my favorite thing in summertime.

  3. says

    Perfect summer cocktail!! I know what you mean about cocktails being deceptively strong sometimes :) I will definitely be making it, but sipping it slow!!

  4. says

    I have a friend who makes these every summer. I have never met anyone else who has heard of them until now. Is it a Minnesota thing? ( I live in Saint Paul).

  5. says

    Hi, Cookie!
    Your human’s blog is a work of art from the first scroll-down-a-page to the last! You’re both to be congratulated. Oh. And. Cheers!

  6. says

    That drink sounds perfect for a hot summer day! I love any drink with lemon/lime…it’s so refreshing! This is going to become one of my go-to summer cocktails! :)

  7. says

    I’m constantly recreating drinks I’ve tried at bars. What can I say, I’m a sucker for a good cocktail. And I know what you mean about the dangers of these libations where the alcohol is masked by other deliciousness. That doesn’t stop me from having one or two more. Ok, who am I kidding. It’s at least three.

  8. says

    I’ve never had the drink you’re referencing but love Brit’s! Minneapolis native right here. I miss it so–hopefully I’ll be heading back for a bit this summer. Will have to try it when I’m in town!

  9. betsy says

    I fell in love with the photo and now that I have read your blog and discovered this is inspired by Brits, I will be making this a date night in Wisconsin for us now. =) I should have known you are in MPLS! everything is so fresh and seasonal.

    • says

      Hey Betsy! I’m sorry, I should have responded sooner. I hope you love the cocktail. I actually live in Kansas City, by way of Oklahoma. My college roommate lives in Minneapolis, though, so I visit as often as I can!

  10. says

    What a great idea! I already make the cocktail citron & mint or with basilic but I never put the alcohool in. It seems the perfect cocktail for summer ;)

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