Immortalized as the neon green ingredient in everything from cocktails to cakes, many commercial crème de menthes rely more on artificial ingredients and colorings than natural sweetness and fresh flavors. But this homemade version from bar manager JR Mocanu at Merchant in Madison, Wisconsin, fuses the potency of freshly plucked mint with a balanced sweetness from a basic simple syrup, and he fortifies it all with a healthy dose of vodka. It’s a cinch to make and perfect for dressing up classic cocktails, like the Absinthe Suissesse and the Stinger, or mixing into your next cup of cocoa.
1 cup water (filtered if possible)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups 80-proof vodka
1/2 oz. fresh mint leaves (weighed), torn
1. In a lidded glass jar, combine the torn mint leaves and vodka and gently shake. Cover and let sit overnight, up to 12 hours.
2. Over medium heat, combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan and stir until sugar dissolves. Let cool to room temperature.
3. Add the cooled sugar syrup to the jar of mint and vodka. Cover and let sit for an additional 12 hours.
4. Fine-strain the finished mixture into a glass bottle being careful to remove all of the mint bits.