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Menta is mint liquor that is popular throughout European regions such as Russia and Bulgaria. It can be enjoyed as a digestif, though it is often used with other liquors and can be used to produce a traditional Bulgarian cocktail known as a “cloud.” This liquor is typically sweetened with simple syrup and often takes on a green coloration due to the use of mint leaves or oil in its production. Menta can also be made at home fairly easily, requiring only vodka, spearmint leaves, sugar, water, and one or more jars.
Often simply referred to as mint liquor, menta is enjoyed throughout a variety of Eastern European countries. In some regions, such as Russia, it can be added to other flavored liquors to produce a number of different results. Combinations such as mint and lemon liquor are often made and served as a digestif, or after-dinner drink, that is usually sipped slowly. Due to the strong mint flavor of menta, however, it is often used in combination with other liquor or spirits to produce a cocktail.
One of the most common uses of menta is in the production of the Bulgarian cocktail known as cloud. This cocktail is a combination of menta and another liquor called mastika. While there are a number of different liquors called mastika, cloud is typically made using anise-flavored liquor with a somewhat licorice-like flavor. This type of mastika takes on a cloudy appearance, similar to ouzo, when water or ice is added to it, lending the cocktail its name.
Menta is fairly easy for someone to make at home, and requires only a few days of preparation. It is usually made, like other homemade flavored liquors, using vodka, and someone making the liquor should choose whatever type of vodka he or she prefers. About 1/4 pound or 4 ounces (around 100 g) of spearmint leaves should be placed into a large jar; these should be fresh leaves if possible. Into this jar is poured about 1 quart (around 1 liter) of vodka; this is stirred, covered, and then set aside.
This jar should be left closed for five days, stored in a cool area if possible. It should not be uncovered but should be shaken gently every other day. After five days, the leaves should be strained out, then squeezed or pressed to remove any liquid that has soaked into them, and the liquor should be returned to a jar. About 1/2 cup or 4 fluid ounces (100 ml) of water and about 2 ounces (50 grams) of sugar should be combined in a pot, cooking lightly for about five minutes. This simple syrup should cool then be added to the liquor, which should be set aside for another 24 hours, after which the menta is ready to enjoy.
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