Dear Fancy Bar Chef,
Two Christmases ago, I bought a lot of booze for a Christmas party my wife and I threw. It was a blast! We played cards, ate a lot of food and drank a lot. I still have two bottles of crème de menthe left over … two years later.
Is it still good? Was it ever good? It is dark green and nobody wants to drink it. What do I do with it? Throw it out? Help!
Dear Helpless Elf,
What you have there is an old-timey spirit used in many baking recipes as well as cocktails. Crème de menthe comes in two forms: green and clear. They are interchangeable except where color is important.
Its origins are fuzzy but were first seen around late 19th-century London. It has also found its way into American pop culture through movies, television and novels such as Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, where upon learning of the end of the world, a bartender fills a hollowed-out pineapple with crème de menthe topped with whipped cream and a cherry. It tastes good, but it’s messy. But then again, it was the end of the world.
Thankfully, it is not the end of the world for you, my helpless elf! We’re not even trying to save lives here. We are just trying to find a way to make merry with something that tastes good, too. So for Christmas this year, I give you the Candy Cane Cocktail.
It’s two parts crème de menthe, one part vanilla vodka and some half-and-half. We can add chocolate vodka to make it taste like a thin mint, too! Who doesn’t like thin mints? Chocolate and mint are a darn fine coupling if I do say so myself.
2 ounces crème de menthe
1 ounce vanilla vodka
1½ ounces half & half
Combine ingredients in an ice-filled shaker. Shake and strain into a glass. Garnish rim with candy cane pieces and drizzle grenadine on top.
Variation: Substitute chocolate vodka for the vanilla and drizzle chocolate syrup on top.
Aaron Brown tends bar at Vault in downtown Columbia. He also can be found on occasion at Bleu Restaurant & Wine Bar, or on the roof of the Missouri Theatre. Every month you can find him in the pages of Inside Columbia, concocting tasty drinks you can make at home.
Got a question for the Fancy Bar Chef? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.