d.i.y. not?

Ran into a friend and fellow bartender recently at a Logan Square late night bar.  We got to talking and he mentioned that he’d been working on a substitute for the standard issue creme de cacao that you find behind most bars.  Now there’s nothing wrong with creme de cacao and there are more than a handful of classics that wouldn’t exist with out it (most notably the Terry Brandy Alexander and the 20th Century).  However great in their own right, surely these cocktails would benefit from the use of a handmade liquer as opposed to the mass-produced and readily available. Our conversation got me thinking…

Could a similar approach be applied to the other black sheep of the craft back bar?  I decided to find out, and what better place to start then creme de menthe.  A necessary ingredient by all accounts but, in working with the available preparations i’ve found that it’s best doled out judiciously.  Many times an 1/8th of an ounce is all you need,  a heavy hand often resulting in a cocktail bordering on unpleasant.  After a bit of research and a couple of hours trolling the internet and cocktail books i got to work…

A few points of interest here:  The color comes out quick (after an hour or two), flavor is a bit slower…however i wouldn’t recommend letting the mint leaves sit in the Gem for any more than 24 hours as things can start to get kind of weird and vegetal.  Taste after 18hrs and proceed with caution…Once you strain the mint leaves what’s left is going to be super boozy and aggressive…don’t worry this will be tempered shortly with the addition of the sugar and water….as far as that goes: for every cup of mint/Gem, i added 4.5 cups of 3:1 simple…this brings the proof down to approximately 42 or (21% abv).

The verdict?

I was pleasantly surprised with this one.  The color is awesome and the flavor is a nice yin to the yang of the more common creme de menthes. Not quite as cloying, and overpowering in cocktail settings and it should keep well due to the proof…In general, it seems to work effortlessly with  London Dry gins (i.e. Tanqueray and Beefeater).  I Even found an unlikely home for it in this: a Grasshopper inspired tequila cocktail…

Two Crows From Tacos

  • 2 oz Lunazul Blanco
  • 1 oz cream
  • 0.5 oz  Marie Brizard White Creme de Cacao
  • 0.25 oz house made creme de menthe
  • 1/16 oz of simple syrup (at the risk of sounding pretentious, let’s call that a whisper of simple syrup)

Garnished with a mint sprig and Bitter Truth’s Xocolatl Mole Bitters.

dig it.



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