Hey, You: Save the Mint! And Make It Schnappy!

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This week, I started to think about one of my dreaded end-of-summer chores: cleaning up the garden.

Aside from all the weeding, pruning, and plucking, I needed to figure out what I’m doing with all my mint. Our front garden is positively overrun with a few different kinds—from traditional peppermint, to run-of-the-mill spearmint and the Lady Otter’s special Kentucky Colonel mint.

I came to one of my standard conclusions: What better way to preserve this minty bounty than by infusing it into some kind of luscious cordial.

So I set about making my first-ever bottle of peppermint schnapps tonight. Technically, it’s a mix of mints. If my timing is right, it should be done just about in time for the beginning of the holiday season.

I did a little research online, and a lot of the recipes I came across consisted of a combination of alcohol, corn syrup, and peppermint extract. While I’m sure this is a potent brew, using artificial flavoring would definitely defeat my purpose.

Here’s the recipe I’ve noodled out. It’s based loosely on other cordials I’ve made in the past, like my Sweet & Sunny Lemon Drop Liquor. I’m aiming for a sweet-but-not-too-sweet cordial that will be a nice addition to hot chocolate, coffee, and baked goods. Oh, and cocktails, of course.

I’ll update in a few weeks to let you know how it’s turning out.

A note on ingredients & method
As with any infusion, use quality vodka and fantastically fresh mint leaves.

For more information on making homemade cordials, including food safety tips, take a peek at my article on how to properly infuse your booze.

The Lady Otter’s Royal Mint Schnapps

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
8 cups whole mint leaves, loosely packed
1 750-ml bottle good vodka

Rinse the mint leaves
Rinse the mint leaves really well. Set aside to drain.

Make a simple syrup
In a medium sauce pan, whisk the sugar and water together over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sugar is totally dissolved.

Remove from heat and set aside until completely cool.

Combine & set to steep
Put the mint leaves in a sterilized jar.

Add the vodka and cooled sugar syrup. Stir with a sterilized spoon to combine.

Cover tightly and set aside in a dark place for about three to four weeks, shaking the jar occasionally to rouse up the mint leaves.

Bottle your schnapps
Taste your schnapps after about three weeks.

If it’s not sweet enough for you, make another batch of simple syrup (with a one-to-one ratio of sugar to water), and add it slowly (you can’t get it out once you put it in) until it’s just right for you.

When you’re happy with the flavor, strain and bottle it.

Should keep for about a year (if it lasts) in a cool, dark place.


Copyright 2008 The Hungry Mouse�/Jessica B. Konopa. All rights reserved.

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Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie works as an advertising copywriter in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.


  1. Thanks! I think it's going to be really good, but the mint definitely needs to soak some. It's totally not too sweet (hooray!), but it needs time to bleed some flavor out of the mint. Right now, it's very, very vodka-y. I'll post an update in maybe like a week. :D I'm really happy, though, because I can tell already that the flavor is going to be great with any kind of chocolate.
  2. So How did this turn out in the end?? It looks so wonderful and I have a source for some yummy mint and you can only have mint tea soo much. :)
    • I have to say, it came out rather yellow-ish. The flavor, however, was fantastic! If the color bugs you, you could package them in colored bottles. (There's also no harm in adding a few drops of food coloring.) Let me know how it goes! +Jessie
  3. I had to try this today with some chocolate mint I had growing in my garden...I combined it with organic sugar and a locally distilled vodka...smells so good and I can't wait to taste. I'm planning to give bottles of schnapps and homemade hot chocolate mix as holiday gifts this year. Thanks so much for the great tutorial!! xoxo
  4. I am in Ukraine and in our center market there is a lady that has a whole array of dried 'goodies'... somehow in my limited russian I conveyed to her 'mint' (myrta) and she showed me 2 samples. I chose one that smelled most like peppermint and took home about 4 -5 cups worth of stems with leaves/buds.... I used filtered water, small amount of sugar and began to heat it gently all the while using a mortar to squash and pulverize.... Put it all into a 2 liter plastic beer bottle and filled it with 1 bottle of local vodka (best in the world)... After it sits and seeps, I will filter it and dilute with another bottle of vodka and then taste for sweetness and bottle it into the 2 empty (cool looking) bottles. It has been 24 hours and it already tastes awesome..... not certain it will make a month or so of seeping and then another of in bottle conditioning.... hmmmm :))))
  5. just what i was looking for - I came into position of a huge bag of dried peppermint leaves and have a ton of vodka laying around. Will make this tomorrow and post back with my review :) thank you! If you have any dried habanero chillis laying around throw 4 of them into a liter of vodka and leave it laying around for a month or so - amazing with orange/tomato juice but not for the faint hearted or those without an asbestos mouth!
  6. I just moved to my vacation home in Vermont permanently. I hadn't been able to spend much time here over the last few years so I was surprised to come across a few acres of mint growing in my lower pasture. I am so excited to find something to do with it all! Going to pick this weekend and give it a try. Will let you know how it turns out. Many thanks for the recipe!
  7. 3 weeks, plus in comment it sounded like you were waiting another week? is this usual for herbs? ive made skittle vodka and orange vodka and both you set for a few hours to a little less than a day! o.O fyi, if you wanna do skittles now that i mentioned it. just separate the colors or youll end up with brown vodka. just steep until completely dissolved, then filter the pulpyness. it does taste exactly like skittles :P
  8. My mom makes an amazing Cherry cordial in a very similar way, but using whiskey. She packs bottles with clean fresh cherries and then pours the syrup/whiskey mix over it and ages -- EVERYONE loves it! Why pay big bucks for 'okay' flavored alcohol when you can make your own that's soooo much better :D I used to enjoy a similar treat to Orbit's skittle vodka using Jolly Ranchers, and I really love Steve's idea of habenaros too - what a great addition to a bloody mary!
  9. You are over-complicating things. Fill a Cuisinart/blender with mint leaves packed tight, add vodka to cover, blend, and let sit for an hour or two max (preferably in the fridge). Pour off liquid (if not, it will begin to taste like ether), and keep cool. Not much color comes out. If you use grain alcohol, you get more color.
  10. My infusion has been steeping for less than a week. The mint leaves are turning brown and the vodka smells like rotting mint. What a waste.
    • Oh that's too bad! :( I'm wondering if there was something funky on your mint to begin with. I've done this this way for years and have never had an issue. Jessie
  11. I just strained the mint out out of the vodka I infused. The taste isn't terrible but it has got a funky (almost rotten?) smell to it. Is it salvageable? Maybe the mint I used wasn't very good.