DIY vs. Buy: Minty Fresh Creme de Menthe

Homemade creme de menthe is awesome! Add a little to coffee or hot cocoa. Bake with it! It’s more versatile than you think.

Homemade creme de menthe tastes and smells like just-picked mint, completely blowing away the commercial stuff with a bright and natural flavor that you just can’t get from extracts.

DIY vs. Buy: Should I Make My Own Creme de Menthe? on Serious Eats

Photo by Liam Boylan

DIY vs. Buy: What? You can make your own sweet vermouth

It never occurred to me before that making your own vermouth was even possible. I played around with some herbs and spices, and came up with a sweet vermouth that I really liked.

Sweet vermouth plays a supporting role in so many cocktails that it’s easy to take for granted. It brings out the nuanced flavors of a bold spirit, so it pairs well with both whiskey and gin, supporting the star player in a wide variety of cocktails. But a simple glass of sweet vermouth has a delicate balance of rich, spicy, sweet, and bitter flavors that can also be delicious on its own.

DIY vs. Buy: Should I Make My Own Sweet Vermouth? on Serious Eats

Photo by Liam Boylan

DIY vs. Buy: Super Sexy Ginger Liqueur

Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur is one of my favorite cocktail ingredients, so I was unconvinced I’d be able to make a ginger liqueur that would satisfy me. But I did! It has the right ginger kick balanced with subtle sweetness.

Ginger liqueur offers an exciting blend of sweet and spicy flavors. It can turn a basic drink into an intricately layered cocktail experience.

DIY vs. Buy: Should I Make My Own Ginger Liqueur? on Serious Eats

In case you’re wondering what cocktails to use it in, try:

Pear Rosemary Cocktail on Serious Eats

Green Tea and Ginger Cocktail on Savvy Housekeeping

What’s Up Doc? on Savvy Housekeeping

Photo by Liam Boylan

DIY vs. Buy: Delightful Limoncello!

I love limoncello! It’s ridiculously easy to make. My version takes about two weeks, so there’s enough time to do this as a DIY holiday gift.

Limoncello is a sweet, sunshine-colored liqueur made with lemon zest. It has a bright lemon flavor with none of the tartness. Created in Italy as an after-dinner drink, it’s light and delicate with just the right amount of alcohol intensity. It’s impossible not to smile when you’re sipping limoncello–especially if you made it yourself.

DIY vs. Buy: Should I Make My Own Limoncello? on Serious Eats

Photo by Liam Boylan

DIY Tonic Water: Who Says a Gin & Tonic Ain’t Fancy?

My current DIY vs. Buy column on Serious Eats shows you how to make your own tonic water. As with any DIY endeavor, you control what goes in it. So true cocktail nerds can match the tonic to a specific gin’s flavor profile and experiment with exotic ingredients.

If you’re unhappy with the flavor of commercial tonics and like to geek out in the kitchen, DIY tonic is a lot of fun. This basic recipe goes well with gin and is a great starting point for playing with your own unique herb and spice combinations.

DIY vs. Buy: Should I Make My Own Tonic Water? on Serious Eats

Photo by Liam Boylan

DIY Irish Cream: Homemade for the holidays

Always ready to tackle the tough issues, I investigated homemade Irish cream for my DIY vs. Buy column on Serious Eats. And the verdict? DIY delicious! Make this Irish cream already. Put it in tiny bottles with little gift tags and give it to people over the holidays … that is, after you’ve already consumed a ton of it and stashed some away for yourself.

DIY Irish cream tastes richer and fresher than the store-bought kind (though it doesn’t last as long or look quite as uniform.) It’s like the difference between a Chips Ahoy cookie and a freshly baked homemade chocolate chip cookie. Your own batch also will cost you at least 5 dollars less than the packaged stuff.

DIY vs. Buy: Should You Make Your Own Irish Cream? on Serious Eats

Photo by Liam Boylan