Serious Eats: Drinks
Cocktail Overhaul: A Revamped Grasshopper
The Grasshopper cocktail is a sweet green-colored after dinner drink. The original concoction called for green crème de menthe, crème de cacao, and cream or half and half. This green monster practically screams out for a remake.
The Grasshopper cocktail might sound like a classic of the bright-colored-'tini age, but according to cocktail lore, it was actually created back in 1919 by Philbert Guichet, the owner of Tujaque's in New Orleans, for a cocktail contest in New York. The green drink reportedly took home the second place prize. (No one seems to know what won the gold medal.) But the drink remained in relative obscurity for sometime before gaining popularity throughout the American South during the 1950s and 60s.
The base flavors of the Grasshopper, mint and chocolate, are a classic (and delicious) combination, but in revamping the cocktail, I wanted to move away from cheap and artificial tasting liqueurs. One option is to replace them with the high-quality creme de menthe and creme de cacao from Tempus Fugit, but I wanted to emphasize the fresh flavor of real mint leaves.
With Momofuku's revolutionary cereal milk in mind, I decided to infuse half and half with fresh mint to get a bright, authentic flavor. I tried two methods: in one version, I heated the milk to create the infusion, and in the other, I infused the mint into the milk in a sealed container in the refrigerator. The fridge version resulted in a lighter but fresher flavor.
The original Grasshopper has no base spirit, but something was needed to give it some backbone and structure in addition to the fresh mint and chocolate flavor. I turned to two spirits that are perfect for after dinner sipping: aged rum and cognac. These robust spirits add the body and strength necessary to keep the drink in balance.