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Minty Drinks to Get You Through Winter

Winter's signature flavor is a lot like the season itself: cool, crisp, and refreshing. Plus, it's delightfully drinkable, whether served as a creamy cocktail or boosting the flavor of a steaming cup of cocoa. Indulge in the minty goodness with these drink recipes and tips.

Mint vs. Peppermint

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If you like mint but not peppermint, or vice versa, there's a reason. The two have distinct flavor differences. Peppermint is strong and assertive; its higher menthol content is what creates the cooling sensation in your mouth. Spearmint—or just mint, as it's often called—has a milder and sweeter flavor. In foods and drinks, these two flavors are often associated with color: green for mint and red for peppermint. But there's actually nothing red about peppermint; the mint plants it derives from are green and the extract is clear. Those iconic stripes on a candy cane are a modern invention to make the white sticks more appealing.

Peppermint Cocoa Warmer

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A splash of peppermint schnapps and a swizzle of a peppermint stick boost the flavor of this classic hot cocoa. In a medium saucepan combine 6 tablespoons sugar, 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, and a dash of salt. Whisk in 2½ cups whole milk. Cook and stir over medium heat until sugar and cocoa powder dissolve. Stir in 2½ cups half-and-half or light cream, ½ teaspoon vanilla, and a dash of ground cinnamon; heat (do not boil). Add 8 tablespoons peppermint schnapps before serving.

Minty Fresh Whips

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The name of this creamy drink hints at its appeal: In less than 15 minutes, you can whip up some decadence. In a blender combine ½ cup whipping cream, 2 ounces (¼ cup) green crème de menthe, and 2 ounces (¼ cup) crème de cacao. Add 1 cup ice cubes. Cover and blend until smooth. Serve immediately. For taste-size servings, use shot glasses, espresso cups, or even basic votive candleholders—they're usually cheaper than barware so they're a nifty option for parties.

Minty Sipping Chocolate

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Chocolate and mint are the ultimate indulgence—so much so that the pairing has earned it own annual observance. National Chocolate Mint Day is February 19, 2022, so plan a chocolaty toast with this rich drinkable dessert. In a medium saucepan combine 1½ cups hot fudge-flavor ice cream topping and 1 cup whipping cream. Cook and stir over medium heat until warm and smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in ⅓ cup crème de menthe liqueur. Pour into small glasses. Serve immediately.

Peppermint Frost

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A glass of warm milk before bed? Not with this boozy sip! The adults-only beverage gives the cool flavor of peppermint a creamy twist that goes down easy. Prepare glasses by rubbing rims of 1½- to 2-ounce shot glasses with a lemon wedge. Dip rims in finely crushed peppermint candy. In a blender combine 2 ounces (¼ cup) white crème de cacao, 1½ ounces (3 tablespoons) peppermint schnapps, 3 tablespoons half-and-half or light cream, and 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) vodka. Add ¾ cup ice cubes. Cover and blend until smooth. Pour into prepared glasses. Serve immediately.

Crushed Peppermint Garnish

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For a pretty flourish on a glass rim or a sprinkle of extra minty flavor, crush some peppermint candies. Place the candy in a resealable plastic bag; crush with a kitchen mallet or rolling pin. A sieve is the trick to ensuring you get the pretty pieces and not a dump of candy dust. Pour the crushed candies into a sieve, then tap the edge to separate the dust from the chunks.

Retro Grasshopper

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Sure, you can shake up a Sidecar or Manhattan and party like it's the 1960s, but this Frozen Grasshopper with its iconic minty green hue is our pick for a standout retro winter refresher. In a blender combine 2 cups vanilla ice cream, ½ cup green crème de menthe, and ½ cup white crème de cacao. Add 1½ cups ice; cover and blend until smooth. Garnish with chocolate-mint candies.

Peppermint Punch

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This ice cream and eggnog punch may be designed for the holidays, but it hits the spot all winter long. Place 1 quart peppermint ice cream in a large chilled bowl; stir until softened. Gradually stir in 1 quart dairy or canned eggnog. Transfer to a punch bowl. Add 1 to 2 10-ounce bottles (1¼ to 2½ cups) of chilled ginger ale to reach desired consistency. If desired, top with additional peppermint ice cream and peppermint sticks. Note: For a spiked version, add 1 cup rum when stirring in the eggnog.

Slow Cooker Cocoa

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Let this cocoa with a peppermint twist simmer away during family game day. In a 3- to 4-quart slow cooker combine 1 cup premium unsweetened cocoa powder, ¼ to ⅓ cup sugar, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Stir in ½ cup hot water until mixture forms a paste. Whisk in 4 cups half-and-half or light cream and 4 cups whole milk. Cover and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours or on high for 2½ to 3 hours. (Do not boil.) Whisk in ½ cup bittersweet chocolate pieces, stirring until chocolate is melted. Skim any "skin" from surface; discard. Serve or keep warm, covered, on warm or low for up to 2 hours. To serve, stir in 2 teaspoons peppermint extract. Ladle cocoa into mugs. Top with sweetened whipped cream and crushed peppermint candies.

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