The Branca Menta Hopper started out as a re-imagining of the classic Grasshopper recipe with the sample bottle of Branca Menta which the Fernet company had sent me. But by the time I finished developing the recipe, I wasn’t sure how much it even resembled the original.
You can make a Grasshopper with Branca Menta in place of the creme de menthe, so that was my starting point – just swapping those liqueurs. But then I loved those flavors so much I added a couple of other liqueurs to the mix… and that was so good, I didn’t want to add cream at all. So that’s why it’s brown and translucent instead of green, creamy and opaque.
Branca Menta is a drinkable bitter liqueur. When you smell it, sweet mint is the first thing you detect. But once you drink it, you pick up all these herbs in the background, which are part of Fernet-Branca’s secret recipe. There are bitter notes, and some spice, but more like anise than something “hot.” If you just swap it out with creme de menthe, you get a more complex Grasshopper that’s not quite so sweet as the original – a very interesting drink.
I started with equal parts Branca Menta and creme de cacao. Then I added a touch of Tia Maria to deepen the flavor. Then it needed something spicy and sweet, so I added ginger liqueur. I know, it sounds like an odd combination, but that final ingredient smoothed everything out and made the whole drink into a slightly spicy, sweet, minty, mocha-y cocktail.
- 1 ounce Fernet Branca Menta
- 1 ounce Creme de Cacao
- 1/2 ounce Tia Maria
- 1/2 ounce Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur