Roughly 10 years ago, I acquired a bottle of Bols Green Creme De Menthe. As a college undergraduate, I distinctly remember being pleased with how good an alcohol per dollar bargain it was. Back then, I used it in a concoction that also included Baileys and vodka. I remember being impressed with my ability to replicate the taste of an Andes mint - but not impressed enough to do so very often. Since then, I've tried to employ it a few times, with disastrous results. Thus, I conclude that if I own any spirit that is truly irredeemable, this is it. White creme de menthe might be easier to use and has a less severe flavor, not to mention color, but to be honest, it's pretty far down on my booze wish list.
Inventing a drink with something like creme de menthe is really about using the process of elimination. What base spirits work with this beverage? Brandy, scotch, and tequila: gone. What liqueurs or secondary spirits clash particularly violently with something that taste of mouthwash? Maraschino, Amarula, Tuaca, Contreau, Pimm's, Sloe gin, and Campari (and others): gone. From there you have a couple of choices. The easy path is to essentially make a dessert, much like I did in college. Some combination of creme, chocolate or chocolate liqueur, and a very neutral base spirit like vodka for instance. I wanted to avoid this, mostly because I've grown an aversion to making such sweet drinks, though I considered putting ice cream, creme de cacao, and the green monster in a blender and making a proper dessert, but concluded that with the clean-up it probably wasn't worth the trouble. Now for the efforts.
1 ounce of gin
.4 ounce of creme de menthe
1 ounce of lime
.25 ounce of simple syrup
Directions: Stir ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
For both drinks, I settled on gin, because while relatively neutral it is not sweet like my subject. This drink is passable, kind of a homeless man's Mojito. The only thing better about it than a Mojito is that it is a bit less sweet. I didn't originally include the simple syrup but added it because the creme de menthe and lime made for a very sharp taste just before the minty aftertaste. Oddly, this drink started tasting better as it warmed up - or maybe I settled into it and lowered my standards.
.25 ounce of creme de menthe
1 ounce of gin (Bombay Sapphire)
.5 ounce of limoncello
4 ounces of ginger ale
Directions: Stir spirits with ice and add cold ginger ale.
For my next cocktail, I wanted to use a lemon flavor which is strong and cuts against the sweetness of the creeme de menthe but sought to avoid the sharpness of the previous attempt from pure lemon or limes. I thus used some limocello, which a former colleague had made and given to me. The ginger ale accomplishes two things. One, the ginger flavor "breaks up" the mint taste, so it doesn't quite dominate the drink. It takes it from Listerine to some sort of candy mint. Second, anything to hide the mint is good. I also had learned to use this ingredient very sparingly. Nonetheless, the drink is still bright green, a fact that makes me think that the alcohol is not nearly the most worrisome component of the creme de menthe. All in all, it was kind of refreshing. Not something that will scratch my regular drink rotation or that I'll be showing off, but something I could drink in a pinch.
Upon reflection and experimentation, my green creme de menthe, while not quite utterly useless, will be with me forever. I believe that it is the longest-tenured drink on my shelf, a distinction that it will carry for the foreseeable future. To the extent that I (very) occasionally employ this spirit, it will be in tiny portions.