All About Peppermint Schnapps

This flavorful liqueur makes some festive cocktails

Peppermint Martini
Getty Images/Meagan Klementowski

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 Peppermint Schnapps Is Made

Typically, schnapps uses a neutral grain alcohol mixed with peppermint leaves and can be anywhere from 15 to 50 percent alcohol per volume (30 to 100 proof). 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 your 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).

Sometimes the store-bought versions can have an overwhelming mint taste that becomes almost medicinal. The good thing is that you can easily make your own peppermint schnapps with just a few ingredients—simple syrup (boiling water with sugar) is mixed with vodka and peppermint extract. All is shaken well to combine.

Drinking Peppermint Schnapps

Peppermint schnapps can be drunk straight or mixed into a cocktail or shooter. If you are going to drink it on its own, the schnapps is best chilled. It is also recommended you 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, paired with hot chocolate, and as a snappy liqueur for some of the most potent shooters.

There are other types of mint produced as a schnapps as well; spearmint is one type that can be substituted for the peppermint schnapps.

Recipes Using Peppermint Schnapps

Kids shouldn't be the only ones to enjoy hot chocolate during the cold months—this adult hot chocolate adds a bit of peppermint schnapps to traditional hot cocoa making a cozy drink with a kick. Or 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 at holiday time. The aptly named candy cane cocktail combines all of the favorite flavors of the season, like peppermint, berry, chocolate, and vanilla. The iceberg combines just two ingredients: vodka and peppermint schnapps, making for a festive drink that is quick to make for last-minute guests. Although there are a few different renditions of this drink, a peppermint patty cocktail always includes chocolate and peppermint, the signature flavors of the candy with the same name. And for something different, try a snowshoe grog, which combines peppermint schnapps with bourbon.

Serving shooters at a party will definitely set a very festive tone, and these shots featuring peppermint schnapps are pretty to look at and delicious to drink. What holiday party would be complete without a Santa shot? This shooter layers two mint liqueurs with grenadine making for an interesting tasting and looking shot. The snowball shooter mixes peppermint schnapps with brandy and creme de cacao while the snowshoe shooter combines the peppermint liqueur with wild turkey bourbon whiskey, offering similar flavor to a mint julep. For dessert in a glass, serve a polar bear shooter, pairing the schnapps with white creme de cacao for a shot no one can resist.