Crème de Menthe 101: Everything You Need to Know

Crème de Menthe is a lovely mint liqueur with lots of possibilities. If you have a bottle stashed in your liquor cabinet, keep reading to find out what it is and what to make with it.

A bottle of Arrow crème de menthe on a marble countertop.

What is Crème de Menthe?

Meaning “mint cream” in French, crème de menthe is a sweet, peppermint-flavored liqueur. It has a strong minty taste.

The original recipe was developed by French pharmacist Émile Giffard as a digestif in 1885 and is still in production today.

According to Maison Giffard, the original white mint liqueur, which is clear and colorless, is obtained from the essential oils of peppermint, specifically the Mitcham type.

Today, it is sold in clear (AKA white) and emerald green varieties, the latter of which gets its color from green food coloring or from infusing with mint leaves.

Despite the name, it does not contain any dairy. The word “crème” refers to the luxurious quality and sugar content. The other liqueurs in the crème family, such crème de framboise (raspberry) or crème de cacao (chocolate), don’t contain dairy either.

a stemless martini glass with a grasshopper cocktail and a float of crème de menthe on top

How to drink it

The fresh mint flavor of either the green or white liqueur makes it ideal for the holiday season. The deep green color is a great addition to green cocktails for St. Patrick’s Day.

There are a number of popular cocktails containing this minty liqueur:

  • Crème de menthe is most often used in the mint green Grasshopper cocktail, which is a creamy after-dinner drink. These light green drinks utilize the green version of this sweet mint-flavored liqueur as well as white crème de cacao.
  • Another classic cocktail is the Stinger cocktail, which is made with cognac and the clear mint liqueur.
  • It is also a key ingredient in the South African recipe for Springbokkie shooters, which are made with Amarula. The green and gold colors of the drink represent the colors of the national Rugby team, the Springboks.

Both the green and white versions can be sipped on their own as an after-dinner digestif. Serve it in a shot glass or sherry glass.

Its sweet, minty flavor is also a desirable addition to dessert recipes, such as Frozen Grasshopper Pie. It’s an ice cream pie with a soft mint cream color and usually an oreo crust. It tastes like a peppermint patty!

Two grasshopper drinks on a marble countertop and garnished with chocolate shavings and chocolate cookie sticks.

How it’s made

Crème de menthe is made by infusing grain alcohol with peppermint leaves (usually Corsican mint) or peppermint extract for several weeks. Then the sweet mint liqueur is filtered, sweetened and bottled.

You can also make homemade crème de menthe with peppermint extract, simple syrup, vodka and, if desired, green food color.

Both the white and green versions have a very similar flavor and are interchangeable in recipes, except when the color is important. It usually has 25% ABV (alcohol by volume).

Best Crème de Menthe brands

There are quite a few brands available in both the white and green varieties. Check your local liquor store and look in the aisle for other flavored liqueurs like triple sec.

White liqueur brands

  • Giffard Menthe Pastille
  • DeKuyper Crème de Menthe White Liqueur
  • Bols Peppermint White Liqueur
  • Monin Crème de Menthe Blanche Liqueur
  • Arrow White Menthe

Green liqueur brands

  • DeKuyper Crème de Menthe Green
  • Bols Peppermint Green Liqueur
  • Arrow Green Menthe
A cocktail shaker pouring grasshopper martini into a coupe glass.

What to mix with Crème de Menthe

Mint pairs especially well with cream and the flavors of coffee, chocolate and white chocolate. It is often used in after-dinner drinks.

In cocktails, it is often paired with crème de cacao, coffee liqueur, white chocolate liqueur or Irish cream liqueur.

Feel free to add it to milkshakes, coffee drinks or hot chocolate for a boozy, minty treat.

Another great way to enjoy it is to pour a splash over vanilla ice cream.

Best Crème de Menthe Substitute

A great substitute is mint simple syrup. You can color it green with green food coloring (or a mix of yellow and blue food coloring).

You can also use peppermint schnapps or peppermint vodka, though it can sometimes have a pink or red color. Keep in mind the alcohol content of these substitutes may be different.

A peppermint hot chocolate with peppermint whipped cream.

FAQ

What alcohol is in crème de menthe?

Crème de menthe is made with grain liquor, such as vodka.

Is crème de menthe the same as peppermint?

Crème de menthe is a peppermint liqueur and can be used to add a cool mint flavor to cocktails, drinks and desserts.

What can I substitute for crème de menthe?

Other mint liqueurs can be substituted for crème de menthe, including peppermint schnapps and peppermint vodka. If you need the bright green color, you can simply add a few drops of green food coloring.

chocolate cookie sticks in two frozen grasshoppers

Mint cocktails

Whether you’re looking for some crème de menthe Christmas drinks or just a way to use up the booze on the back of your liquor cabinet, look no further than these minty cocktail recipes:

Boozy mint desserts

You can use this minty alcoholic beverage in desserts, too. Here are a few places to start:

More liquor guides

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