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Making Homemade Creme de Menthe Can’t Get Easier than This!


Two bottles of homemade mint liqueur - one white creme de menthe and one green creme de menthe - as well as a commercial Bols bottle of creme de menthe

Hello, Friends of Cocktails! Today we’re making homemade Creme de Menthe, two ways - and I don’t mean just white and green. One will be made with mint essential oils and the other with dried mint tea. It’s super fast and easy to make and I think it can go toe to toe with the stuff you can buy at the store. I’ll also make the Grasshopper, a wonderful creamy, mint-chocolate dessert cocktail, plus one more cocktail idea for the Patrons


So what is Crème de Menthe? It’s a sweet, mint-flavored liqueur that originates from France. It’s a key part of some classic cocktails, like the Grasshopper and the Stinger, a mix of brandy and creme de menthe originating from the turn of the 20th century. Creme de Menthe was first developed by Emile Giffard, a pharmacist, in the late 1800s - that’s actually the reason Giffard transformed his pharmacy to a distillery. 


Despite thi, we’ll be comparing our DIY versions to Bols since that’s what they had at the local store. The first thing you notice in this liqueur is the intense green color, artificially colored and mainly the only difference from the white Creme de Menthe. On the smell and taste you’ll get a punch of peppermint which I mainly associate with bubble gum or tooth paste. The refreshing aftertaste lingers on the tongue even though this is a very sweet liqueur, but if you’ve seen any of my other DIY liqueurs you know we’ll tone the sweetness down a bit.

 

It might not be used as often as Campari nowadays, but I think it can be a fun addition to your ingredients list, especially when homemade. Before we get into the two different ways we’ll make our liqueurs we need to talk about essential oils. Essential oils are concentrated extracts that retain the natural smell and flavor of their source. While I often highlight the importance of quality ingredients and proper measuring, this gets even more important when talking about something as concentrated as essential oils. 


We’ll go into how mint essential oils are extracted when we reach the Bottom of The Glass, but if you want to learn more about them, Art of Drink went into all the details about the safety and use of essential oils in one & two episodes. Main takeaway is that you should only use essential oils that are all natural and are listed as GRAS, or Generally Recognized As Safe. 


Another important thing is the dosing, which we’re talking about in the range of parts per million or milligrams per liter. I followed the formulas provided by Darcy for mint essential oil and you can find a calculator here to make the right amount of Creme de Menthe - but don’t just take those numbers and apply them to other essential oils, because the dosage can vary significantly. So source good quality mint essential oil and follow this recipe for a super fast & easy DIY Mint Liqueur, it’s Cocktail Time!


Hand holding a bottle of mint essential oils

White Creme de Menthe

● 75mL · 2.5oz Everclear

● 2.7g Peppermint Essential Oil

● 300mL · 10oz Water

● 162g Sugar

● 605mL · 20oz Vodkar


Begin by mixing your Everclear or any other grain alcohol with the essential oil - even at this amount we’ll have enough mint essence to make 5 liters of creme de menthe, but if you can’t get everclear just use the highest proof vodka you can find. I’ll leave this to mix for about 10 minutes to make a mint essence, and in a separate container I’ll combine the water, sugar and vodka. These 3 ingredients will make the base for our liqueur into which we’ll add 15mL or 0.5oz of the mint essence.


This will put us in the right area of parts per million for mint essential oil in our final product. Once the sugar has completely dissolved and the essence is fully mixed in we have White Creme de Menthe, or Mint Liqueur since we used less sugar. If you want to turn it green we use the same process as we used for homemade Midori. So pour out a small amount of our liqueur and add plenty of green food-safe coloring. Mix it well then slowly add this into your liqueur until you’re happy with the color you get.


Now let’s give this liqueur a try before we move onto making a mint liqueur using dried mint tea, cheers! There’s plenty of menthol on the aroma and the taste - it's incredible how much of that such a small amount of essential oil provides. I like the sweetness level and I think this will also benefit the cocktails you make with this, and although our next versio takes a little longer, the end result is delicious.


Mint Tea Creme de Menthe

● 320mL · 10.3oz Vodka

● 8g Mint Tea

● 0.8g Ascorbic Acid

● 120mL · 4oz Mint Tea

● 65g Sugar


For the infusion I’m using a mason jar and adding the vodka, mint tea and ascorbic acid - you’ll want to use store-bought mint tea because that has a much more pronounced menthol aroma. The ascorbic acidis optional but recommended,as it’ll brighten up the color slightly, enhance the flavor and also work as a preservative. Cover this and let sit for two days, stirring occasionally during this time, and once that’s done we can move onto our dilution, which we’ll do with mint tea.


To make it, start by bringing 200g of water to a boil and to that add 2g of the dried peppermint, cover, and let steep for 4 minutes. After that time passes, strain it through a fine mesh strainer, measure out what you’ll need and enjoy the rest of the tea, it’s good for you. You can also dissolve the sugar into the tea while it’s hot, then I’ll strain our mint infusion through a fine mesh strainer. I need 260 ml, which is almost the exact amount I ended up with, and I’ll mix this with our mint tea syrup.


Stir well for everything to mix and combine, and that’s basically it. To make it as clear as possible you can strain the liqueur through a coffee filter after a few days have passed so that the particles have settled. Mint released quite some color so we can’t really say this is a white creme de menthe, but we’ll give it a bit more vibrant green color with the same process as before. Let’s give this one a try to see how it compares!


We still got a rich liqueur with plenty of mint. There's still a hint of chlorophyll, but that also adds a certain "natural" character. The first one is closer to the store-bought liqueurs, while the second option has a more homemade feel to it. So now for the cocktails. I’ll show you how to make the Grasshopper, but the Green Swizzle is another great cocktail you can make with creme de Menthe as well. That recipe will be available on our Patreon Page, but now let’s jump into making the Grasshopper


The Grasshopper

● 37.5mL · 1.25oz Creme de Menthe

● 37.5mL · 1.25oz Creme de Cacao

● 37.5mL · 1.25oz Cream

● 2 drops 20% Saline Solution


This is of course a shaken cocktail, so start with a chilled shaker and have a stemmed glass chilling in the freezer. This will be an equal parts cocktai, so make it based on how much fits in your glass, but all you need is to give the cocktail a good shake to chill and dilute. Grab the chilled nick&nora glass and double strain the cocktail. Garnish with a mint leaf or a piece of chocolate and that’s it. Cheers!


It has plenty of mint and a hint of chocolate on the nose, and the flavor profile is like you’re eating After Eight chocolate mint thins. Creamy, sweet, minty, chocolaty - a Grasshopper. With that you’ve made it to the Bottom of The Glass, and today we’ll learn how essential oils are extracted from mint leaves! It’s done through a process called steam distillation, which starts with harvesting the mint. 


The mint is then transported to the distillation apparatus, where steam is passed through it, causing the essential oil to evaporate with the steam. The steam carrying the essential oil is then condensed, and the resulting liquid mixture is separated to isolate the mint essential oil - fascinating stuff. Now it’s time for me to make another cocktail and you can check out how to make some more DIY liqueurs. I’ll see you next week. Cheers, Friends of Cocktails!



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