A cocktail is only as good as the ingredients it is composed from, no matter how great the mixologist and the same is true of the ingredients themselves. Why find the world best gin for a Tom Collins only to compromise it with an inferior lemon juice? A fruit liqueur demands fresh, quality produce and the same is true of specialist drinks such as peppermint based Menthe-Pastille.
As you might expect from a French company, the provenance, quality and freshness of the ingredients in our products is more than a passion, it is the essence of everything we do. We believe that the best ingredient is always flavour and that means sourcing the finest natural produce. This is the first in a series of articles exploring the plants and fruits that go into our liqueurs and what better place to start than right at the beginning with mint?
Peppermint is English and the Mitcham Plant, from which Menthe-Pastille is made, is named after the town of Mitcham in the southern county of Surrey, where it was first bred. In the 19th Century, mint was believed to aid digestion and have restorative powers but it’s real strength lies in its cool, clean, refreshing flavour. It was the medicinal qualities that first attracted Emile Giffard, an Angers pharmacist, to the plant in 1885 but it was probably the great taste of his Menthe-Pastille creation that ensured its success with the local hotel guests that summer. While many use Menthe-Pastille as the base of cocktails such as the White Lady or a Stinger, it is still consumed neat, over ice, by many in Angers where it’s relatively low 24% alcohol content is often preferred to stronger spirits.
The Mitcham is a specialist peppermint plant initially imported to France by Emile Giffard and now grown locally. It is the only one to be found in Menthe-Pastille. Mint plants belong to the botanical family of the Lamiaceae and to the genus Mentha. There are two principal species, Mentha Spicata or Viridis which is Spear Mint, with a very soft and sweet chlorophyll flavour and Mentha Aquatica, a Water Mint. The latter grows in damp, low lying flood plains and wet regions and has a very powerful, spicy flavour. It was the cross pollination of these two species in 17th century England that produced Mentha Piperita, peppermint.
The Mitcham grows from April to September and has a particularly high concentration of menthol in its leaves, which gives a strong, powerful aroma, particularly when harvested. Harvesting can take place at any time from June to August depending upon the weather and the plants’ maturity.
The Stinger – a simple and refreshing cocktail, perfect for this time of year
2 shots of Cognac
¾ shot of Menthe-Pastille
Serve in a martini glass and garnish with a fresh mint leaf.