Grasshopper - Gastro Obscura
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Drinks

Grasshopper

This bright green cocktail doubles as dessert.

The Grasshopper: sweet and creamy, alluringly verdant, named after a bug, and sometimes blended with ice cream. It’s about as kid-friendly as cocktails get.

The original recipe for a Grasshopper cocktail calls for just three ingredients—equal parts crème de menthe, crème de cacao, and heavy cream, shaken and strained. This New Orleans cocktail emerged alongside far more formidable originals, like the Hurricane and Sazerac, during the early 20th century. 

Philibert Guichet, the then-owner of Tujague’s restaurant, which has been a New Orleans institution since it opened in 1856, is credited with inventing the Grasshopper. Popular drink-lore says Guichet entered the cocktail at a competition in New York City in 1919, and allegedly won second place. (No one seems to remember who won first.) He brought the Grasshopper to Tujague’s, and the French Quarter establishment still serves the creamy combination. The drink’s early history is not well recorded, as the United States banned alcohol in 1920. But historians suspect that bartenders slung Grasshoppers in speakeasies throughout the 1920s. According to some accounts, Tujague’s waiters slipped spirits to diners from their aprons.

After Prohibition’s repeal, the drink spread to bar menus across the American South. By the 1950s, enjoying a Grasshopper was common; it even inspired a namesake pie made from minty, fluffy chiffon in a cocoa cookie crust. In the Mid-West, Wisconsinites adopted a blended ice cream version of the drink, which became popular in supper clubs. Upscale American cocktail bars offered new takes on the Grasshopper, with updates like brandy, bitters, absinthe, and Fernet-Branca.

Many modern Grasshoppers feature far more than Guichet’s original three ingredients. But as long as it’s minty, creamy, and green, people will call it a Grasshopper.

Need to Know

You can whip up the original Grasshopper at home with equal parts crème de menthe, crème de cacao, and heavy cream. Just shake over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Bars around the world, as well as some ice cream parlors, also serve variations of this dessert-drink.

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