All About Peppermint Schnapps

Peppermint Schnapps in a Martini Glass
S&C Design Studios

Peppermint schnapps is a clear, mint-flavored distilled spirit that is often used in winter cocktails. It is less sweet and typically contains more alcohol than crème de menthe, and may remind you of a liquid candy cane.

The word schnapps is German and related to the word "schnappen" which refers to consuming the drink in a small glass with a quick slug. If you have good-quality peppermint schnapps, you may enjoy drinking it this way.

How It's Made

Typically, peppermint schnapps is made using neutral grain alcohol blended with the extract of peppermint leaves (or some other mint flavoring ingredient, including spearmint) and sweetened with sugar. The flavoring and sweetener may be natural or artificial, varying from one brand to another.

It's important to understand that American schnapps is different than authentic German schnapps, which is a strong liquor distilled directly from fruit juices. If you ask for peppermint schnapps in Germany, you're unlikely to find what you're looking for and will be offered crème de menthe as a substitute.

Peppermint schnapps can be bottled anywhere from 15 percent to 50 percent alcohol by volume (ABV, 30 to 100 proof). Those with a higher alcohol content will have a stronger peppermint flavor, sometimes reaching the point of a burning sensation or an overwhelming medicinal taste.

Peppermint schnapps is generally inexpensive and there are many brands that produce peppermint schnapps; however, the quality, price, and production can vary quite a bit. On liquor store shelves, you may find brands such as Arrow, DeKuyper, Dr. McGillicuddy's Mentholmint, Hiram Walker, Ice 101, Mr. Boston, Phillips, Rumple Minze, and Yukon Jack Permafrost.

Homemade Recipe

As an alternative to store-bought peppermint schnapps, you might want to try making the liqueur yourself. This lets you control the mint flavor and gives you the option of using peppermint extract or fresh mint leaves.

  1. Make a simple syrup by stirring 1 cup sugar into 1 cup of boiling water until it dissolves. If you're using mint extract, remove the unflavored syrup from the heat and let it cool.

    If you want to flavor it naturally, add a handful of torn mint leaves. Reduce the heat and let it simmer, covered, for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool completely before straining out the mint.

  2. Pour the cooled simple syrup into a glass bottle or jar and add 2 cups of vodka. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of peppermint extract if you're using unflavored syrup.

  3. Seal the bottle and shake it well until everything is combined.

  4. Give your peppermint schnapps a taste. If you want it a little mintier, add more extract (or mint syrup), 1 teaspoon at a time. Shake after each addition until you find your ideal flavor. Make note of your personal recipe so you can duplicate it next time!

Drinking

Peppermint schnapps can be drunk straight, though it is best when chilled. You might also want to choose a smoother schnapps that probably costs a little more than the average bottle.

Peppermint schnapps is also a favorite ingredient in winter and holiday cocktails. It's often paired with chocolate and is used as a snappy liqueur for some of the most potent shooters.

Cocktails

Kids shouldn't be the only ones to enjoy hot chocolate during the cold months. The adult hot chocolate adds a bit of peppermint schnapps to traditional hot cocoa making a cozy drink with a kick. Or you can try a chocolate kiss, which includes coffee liqueur with the hot chocolate and peppermint schnapps mixture, adding another delicious dimension.

A cocktail is, of course, the ideal platform for peppermint schnapps, especially around the holidays.

  • The aptly named candy cane cocktail combines all of the favorite flavors of the season, like peppermint, berry, chocolate, and cream.
  • The iceberg combines just two ingredients: vodka and peppermint schnapps, making for a festive drink that is quick to make for last-minute guests.
  • For something different, try a snowshoe grog, which combines peppermint schnapps with bourbon.
  • There are a few renditions of a peppermint patty cocktail. It always includes chocolate and peppermint, the signature flavors of the candy with the same name.

Shooters

Serving shooters that feature peppermint schnapps at a party will definitely set a very festive tone.

  • What holiday party would be complete without a Santa shot? This shooter layers two mint liqueurs with grenadine, resulting in an interesting taste and a rather cool looking shot.
  • The snowball shooter mixes peppermint schnapps with brandy and crème de cacao.
  • The snowshoe shooter combines the peppermint liqueur with Wild Turkey Bourbon, offering similar flavor to a mint julep.
  • For dessert in a glass, serve a polar bear shooter, pairing the schnapps with white crème de cacao for a shot no one can resist.
  • The Girl Scout cookie is another favorite, combining the schnapps with coffee and Irish cream liqueurs.