The Grasshopper may not be a fashionable drink these days, but this one is a killer.
You might cringe when you hear certain cocktails are called: a Fluffy Duck, a Blue Hawaii, a Grasshopper. Disco drinks from the bad old days of the 1970s and 80s. They hardly scream sophistication these days, right?
Bartenders, too, will cringe at even the briefest thought of those drinks. But the better bartenders? They get to work on making the best possible version of those drinks — like this take on the Stinger here — sometimes ending up with something many orders of magnitude better than the original.
Take the Grasshopper for example: the standard recipe is for equal parts creme de menthe, creme de cacao, and cream. And the drink is okay, if what you want is a lightly boozy choc mint milkshake.
Visit New Orleans, however, and you can find yourself one of the best Grasshoppers you’ll ever have. Tujaque’s claims to be New Orleans’ second-oldest restaurant — last year it moved a few blocks down Decatur Street — and they’ve been making them for 100 years.
We visited in 2018 before the move; we loved the old stand up bar, and the Grasshopper put out by veteran New Orleans bartender Paul Gustings. His recipe calls for both light and dark creme de cacao, white and green creme de menthe, and a little brandy to add to the cream. It’s delicious.
And it should be: Tujaque’s is also the home of the Grasshopper, with its owner creating the drink in 1919 for a cocktail competition.
But there’s a great Grasshopper closer afield, at Manly bar The Cumberland.
Lighter and drier than the original and Gusting’s take on the drink, the Thistle Grasshopper at The Cumberland ditches the cacao for almondy orgeat, and makes a smart addition: absinthe.
“Absinthe is the backbone of the drink,” says co-owner and bartender Pete Ehemann. “We use absinthe, creme de menthe, orange blossom, fresh cream, and a little bit of orgeat. We use the Tempus Fugit creme de menthe which - because of the quality — obviously makes the drink really good.”
The Thistle Grasshopper is an example of how the bar employs classic old world ingredients and mixes them with native Australian botanicals.
“When we first opened, we took a few native ingredients, and a few classics, and we meshed them together,” says Ehemann. “For this one we use a native thistle, called sowthistle, and we use that in the drink — it gives it a little bite, like you’d get from rocket or lettuce, gives it a little tannin.”
The star of the show for this Grasshopper is the absinthe — a French-style absinthe, it’s cooling and amplifies the minty flavour of the creme de menthe.
You’ll want to drink two — we sure did.
The Cumberland's Grasshopper
- 30ml absinthe
- 15ml Tempus Fugit Creme de Menthe
- 30ml sowthistle-infused full cream
- 10ml orgeat
- a dash of orange flower water
- Shake all ingredients with ice.
- Strain into a chilled coupette glass.