A rene­gade herb that will hap­pily take over any untended gar­den bed, mint is a sta­ple of sum­mer eats and drinks.

Look­ing to exact a sense of culi­nary cool, calm, sweet or fresh­ness? Mint is indis­pens­able and with­out sub­sti­tute.

The entic­ing aro­matic gets its scent from the oil in the leaf, men­thol.

A wide vari­ety of mint plants exists, ready for use in the kitchen. The two most com­mon are prob­a­bly pep­per­mint and spearmint and the more rare curly leaf, pineap­ple and gin­ger mint.

Get to know the nuanced dif­fer­ences so appli­ca­tions into sal­ads, starters, sides, entrees, drinks, cock­tails and desserts are best suited to spe­cific fla­vor pro­files.

A few top mints to get to know: Spearmint. Most com­monly used in cook­ing for many noto­ri­ous mint recipes, includ­ing lamb, spring rolls, veg­eta­bles (like peas, car­rots, pota­toes, beans and cucum­bers), tabouli salad and favorite sum­mer cock­tails like moji­tos and mint juleps.

Pep­per­mint is a hybrid of spearmint and water mint; stronger than spearmint and often used in tea and desserts.

Apple mint, with fuzzy leaves, smells sim­i­lar to Granny Smith apples. Use this to make tea, a gar­nish or addi­tion to sal­ads.

Pineap­ple mint is a vari­ety of apple mint. Notable crin­kled leaves with creamy edges, can be used in cold or warm bev­er­ages and fruit sal­ads and gar­nish.

Orange mint with mild, cit­rus fla­vored leaves is another excel­lent salad, desserts, bev­er­age or gar­nish choice. The mel­low cit­rus over­tones pro­vide a sub­tle dis­tinc­tion.

Choco­late mint has a bolder pep­per­mint fla­vor with a choco­late over­tone. The obvi­ous is dessert or drink recipes.

Mid­dle East­ern, Thai, Viet­namese, Mex­i­can, Indian and Mediter­ranean cuisines lean on mint to pro­vide a clean, dis­tin­guished and mem­o­rable dish.

Some vari­eties have very dark stems. In some cul­tures, a pur­ple, black, or dark stemmed mint is con­sid­ered to be the finest qual­ity. In ancient Greece, mint leaves were crushed and rubbed on the table to show hos­pi­tal­ity to vis­i­tors.

When it’s hot out­side, sneak mint into every­thing. Drinks, gar­nishes, sal­ads, mains, deserts and yes, more drinks. The cool­ing prop­er­ties of mint will reju­ve­nate and refresh dur­ing peak sum­mer heat.

A mint “takeover” is com­pany worthy.