If You’d Like to Drink Your After-Dinner Chocolate Mint
Some people like to drink dessert. Last week we discussed the Brandy Alexander, a delightful mix of cognac (or brandy), crème de cacao, and heavy cream. Switch out the cognac for green crème de menthe and you have the Grasshopper Cocktail, which may be the ultimate dessert drink.
Chocolaty crème de cacao and minty crème de menthe are both sweet. Add cream, and you have a rich drink that tastes an awful lot like one of those dinner mints you sometimes see — such as Andes Chocolate Mints. And although both crème ingredients contain enough alcohol to provide some grown-up pleasure, the total amount is perhaps half of what you’d get in a regular drink. So after a big dinner with lots of wine, you’re not adding too much more to your total intake.
Best of all, the festive green color of the Grasshopper is seasonally appropriate. Add a candy cane garnish, and this drink just screams Christmas.
Recipe: The Grasshopper Cocktail
Who knows how the Grasshopper got its name? Some speculate that it’s the green color. Although when I look at the drink, the first thought to pop into my head isn’t “grasshopper.”
Most do people agree, however, that the drink originated at Tujagues Restaurant in New Orleans, where it was developed as an entry for a cocktail contest held in New York City in 1928 — during Prohibition! It’s puzzling that someone would hold a cocktail contest during Prohibition — but of course it’s even more puzzling that we ever had Prohibition.
The classic recipe for this drink contains equal parts of crème de menthe, crème de cacao, and heavy cream. I find this makes a well-balanced drink with excellent flavor, and it’s the formulation I prefer. But this is a cocktail that invites tinkering — so feel free to adjust the quantity of ingredients to reflect your own taste. My recipe tastes an awful lot like a liquid dinner mint. But you might decide you prefer something that’s more like melted chocolate mint ice cream. I suggest some alternative ingredient ratios in the Notes to get you started on your tinkering.
This cocktail takes about 5 minutes to make, and the recipe serves 1.
- 1 ounce green crème de menthe (don’t use the white — clear — variety; see Notes)
- 1 ounce crème de cacao (use the white — clear — not the brown variety; see Notes)
- 1 ounce heavy cream
- a small candy cane as garnish (optional, but attractive)
- Combine all ingredients (except garnish) in a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds or so, until the drink is cold. Be sure to shake well! This helps increase the foaminess of the cream, which creates a more attractive drink.
- Strain into a cocktail glass (preferably one that has been chilled).
- Add a candy cane garnish if desired, and serve.
- Crème de menthe is bottled as either a white (clear) or green liquid. The flavor is the same. You definitely want the green for this drink, to give it color.
- Crème de cacao is bottled as either a white (clear) or brown liquid. The flavor difference between them is very slight, and when mixed in this cocktail I can’t distinguish between the two. I buy the white version because some other drinks that require crème de cacao are best made with that variety. You definitely want the white version for the Grasshopper; the brown would make the drink rather muddy.
- You can find crème de menthe and crème de cacao at almost every liquor store, in the liqueur and cordial section. The most commonly seen brands — DeKuyper and Hiram Walker — cost around $10 per bottle. The flavor of these is acceptable, and the quality is decent enough. If you don’t mind spending twice as much (or more), Marie Brizard is a good step up in quality and flavor (it also has a somewhat higher alcoholic proof). If I used either crème de menthe or crème de cacao a lot, I’d be buying Marie Brizard. Because I so rarely use these liqueurs, I usually buy the inexpensive brands (although recently I impulsively bought a bottle of Marie Brizard crème de cacao just to confirm that the more expensive brand actually is better. It is).
- If you want to tinker with the quantity of ingredients in the Grasshopper, I have two suggestions. For a drink with a bit more cream, try making it with an ounce each of crème de menthe and crème de cacao, and 2 ounces of cream. If you find the drink has too much cream as is, try making it with 1½ ounces each of crème de menthe and crème de cacao, and 1 ounce of cream.
- BTW, the drink becomes a bit lighter or darker depending on whether you use more or less cream. Likewise, if you add or subtract crème de menthe.
- David A. Embury in The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks claims that the original Grasshopper was a pousse-café (that is, a layered drink — one of the most common of which today is the B-52). He says it originally consisted of layers of crème de menthe and crème de cacao, with an additional cream layer being optional. That would be pretty, but I’d rather have my Grasshopper mixed and served in a cocktail glass rather than layered in an oversize shot glass.
- Perhaps not surprisingly, there are ice cream versions of this drink. Most typically, they contain mint chocolate chip ice cream (suggesting the flavors of both crème de menthe and crème de cacao), along with actual crème de menthe, and usually some milk. Some people use mint ice cream sans chocolate chips (or even plain vanilla), and then add crème de menthe and crème de cacao. The idea is to blend the ingredients and serve it in a tall glass, with straws. Kind of an alcoholic ice cream soda. It’s not something I’ve ever made — or am likely to make — but you might find it fun to experiment.
- Speaking of ice cream, crème de menthe makes a wonderful topping. Not for the kiddies, however, since it does contain alcohol.
Perfect for Christmas
“Pretty drink!” Mrs. Kitchen Riffs exclaimed when I handed her a Grasshopper Cocktail garnished with a little candy cane. “This is perfect for Christmas!”
“It is!” I replied. “Although the candy cane might be a bit over the top. And because it’s peppermint, its flavor doesn’t quite match the crème de menthe.”
“Who cares?” said Mrs K R. “It looks wonderful, and if you’re a normal person, you’ll eat the candy cane after you consume the drink, so you won’t notice. In fact, the peppermint will be quite refreshing.”
“You’re right,” I said. “So, which drink should we serve for Christmas dinner? This, or the drink we discussed last week: the Brandy Alexander?”
“Tough choice. They’re both good, both really attractive, and both so appropriate. Maybe serve one Christmas Eve, and the other Christmas Day?”
“The best of both worlds!” I agreed. “Unless we decide to serve the drink we’ll be featuring next week.”
“Which is?” Mrs K R asked.
“I’ll tell you next week,” I promised. “Christmas is supposed to be full of surprises.”
Ho, Ho, Ho!
You may also enjoy reading about:
Income Tax Cocktail
Corpse Reviver Cocktail
The Last Word Cocktail