GSN Alert: September 15th – National Crème de Menthe Day

Qtimthumb.phpuick!  How many classic crème de menthe based cocktails can you name? Go!

That’s what I thought.  Highlight the area to the right to see if you got them all -> Grasshopper, Stinger

Crème de menthe is one of those liqueurs that once you try, you will never forget.  For obvious reasons it is used in a fair amount of obscure Irish cocktails, but personally I avoid those.

Crème de menthe is not a cream based liqueur, but rather a category of spirits known as crèmes, which are more syrupy and sugar laden than standard liquors.  It is made from Corsican mint or peppermint and is either colorless (white) or vibrantly green.  Most products today use food coloring to achieve the effect.  The flavors are exactly the same however.

If you want to try making your own at home, here’s a recipe courtesy of Marcia Simmons, co-author of DIY Cocktails which I have previously reviewed here.

DIY Creme de Menthe
1 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves (divided)
1 1/2 cups vodka
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water

  • Measure out 1 cup of mint leaves and tear them in quarters Place mint leaves in a sealable glass jar and pour vodka on top. Shake and let steep for 12 hours.
  • After steeping is complete, strain mint leaves from infused vodka. Return infused vodka to the jar.
  • Bring the water and sugar to a boil, and let simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool, then add syrup to mint-infused vodka.
  • Take the additional 1/2 cup of mint leaves, tear them, and add them to the jar. Shake and let steep for 10 hours.
  • Strain twice to remove all mint leaves, keep in resealable bottle. Keeps for two months.

GSN Review: Summer 2011 Cocktail Guides

It’s always refreshing to see cutting edge cocktail books being published.  This hasn’t always been the case, as I’ve found out by dozens of review copies sent to me filled with the same hundred or so regurgitated cocktail recipes that have been around since the noble experiment was repealed.  But this summer, I weeded out two that I highly recommend for your permanent back bar library.

First, is the 7th annual Food & Wine Cocktail Guide for 2011.  Small, concise, and helpfully paperback, this guide is full of practical, yet post-modern mixological advice and recipes.  I’ve used these guides for years as an indicator of where cocktail trends are headed.  The editors for the 2011 edition include Richard Boccato, Jackson Cannon, Kathy Casey, Jennifer Colliau, John Coltharp, Ryan Fitzgerald, Jim Meehan, Philip Ward and the inestimable Professor Dave Wondrich; so how can you go wrong?  GSN Rating: Top Shelf ****

Secondly, I would like to recommend my readers pick up a copy of DIY Cocktails by Marcia Simmons & Jonas Halpren, the co-editors of Drinkoftheweek.com.  An interesting book that takes the approach of creating your own cocktail recipes, rather than just following someone else’s carved in stone directions.  What sets this book apart in my mind, is that rather than working with the usual American mindset of measuring everything in ounces, you work with parts.  The ratio of 1-1-1 for a Negroni for instance, or a 3-1 classic gin martini.  It retrains your brain to work with math instead of rote memory.  Quite a handy feat when you are in the weeds and a customer says, “make me something new, but it has to have cognac, creme de violette and housemade grenadine”.  By learning only ten ratios, you can create an endless supply of original cocktails for your guests.  GSN Rating: Top Shelf ****