Hi! Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving yesterday. I'm still full, but it's always so worth it to eat all that good food. I'm such a sucker for a casserole. Today's post is kicking off the holiday season here on the blog. It may be a bit late in the game to suggest making mint schnapps for this holiday season, but if you can find some fresh mint, you still have time. Otherwise, you can bookmark this post for next year.
A few summers ago, I intentionally grew a ton of mint, so that I could fill an empty flower bed quickly and have plenty of mint for summer mojitos. By the end of the summer, I had only had a few mojitos and still had a ton of mint, so I decided to try making peppermint schnapps for the holidays.
I used a very simple recipe I found on Jessie Cross's blog, The Hungry Mouse. Jessie also has some great pointers for making great schnapps, so definitely check out her post if you want to make schnapps. The only thing I disagree with her on is the quality of the booze you should use. Honestly, for vodka infusions, I think it's perfectly ok to use something cheap. The whole point of good quality vodka is to distill out all of the flavor, but if you're going to flavor it up anyway, why spend the extra money?
That being said, I had my reasons for choosing more upscale booze. I wanted to support my local economy and be earth-friendly, so I chose two good, locally-distilled bottles and one widely distributed eco-brand that I found in the liquor store. All of my schnapps turned out equally well...couldn't tell one vodka from the other in the finished product.
Once I picked all my mint, washed it and stripped the leaves off the stem, I made a quick simple syrup....following Jessie's directions on The Hungy Mouse. You will see that mine is somewhat yellow-ish and that's because I use unrefined sugar...it's not brown sugar exactly, but it hasn't been bleached white. Works the same as white sugar and, again, is better for the environment. (I buy it in bulk at PCC, so it's not that much more expensive that plain white sugar...and it's fair trade.)
When the syrup was ready I poured it over my leaves and muddled them a bit with a wooden spoon to release all the flavorful oils from the leaves. Last step was to pour a whole bottle of vodka over the leaves and stir. Then you just cover the pitcher and let it steep for a few weeks. I kept mine on the counter, so I could stir daily and keep an eye on it. The liquid eventually turned to a caramel brown color.
To finish the packaging I wrapped strips of vintage wrapping paper around the bottles and tied hand-stamped tags to the necks with thin red string. I had planted peppermint and chocolate mint, so I ended up with several varieties of the schnapps.
Here were a few other bottles I sourced from the thrift store. I found fresh corks at the hardware store. (Tip: If you want to reuse long skinny bottles like this, try dropping in a denture cleaner tablet to really get the inside clean. Then use a long bottle brush to scrub off any grime.) You can sterilize them in your dishwasher or by pouring boiling water into them and letting the water sit until it cools.
These bottles were given as gifts to friends along with jars of homemade hot cocoa, which I'll be doing a post about tomorrow. Cocoa with peppermint schnapps is a match made in heaven. Friends still request refills on the mint schnapps, but I've since moved on to other flavored infusions...this year I'm doing rosemary vodka which I made this summer to do rosemary lemon drops with. I think for the holidays a rosemary and cranberry martini may be in order.
Have you ever made flavored infusions? Got a favorite? I'd love to hear from you! And be sure to follow along all month for a virtual DIY Handmade Holiday Bonanza! I'll be posting crafts, recipes and holiday fun all month. XOXO, Cindi