In his story “My Father’s Fashion Tips,” a tale that recounts the lessons and legacies one generation of adults can pass down to another, the journalist Tom Junod recalls his father extolling the virtues of the after-dinner Grasshopper. “You’ve never had a Grasshopper?” his father asks, incredulous. “They were the in drink at one time.” Indeed they were. And with good reason. In the 20-plus years since that story was first published in GQ magazine, I’ve shifted from converted pupil to teacher, taking up the mantle to indoctrinate my juniors on the value of this refined and delicious beverage.
I work with some of the finest young minds in the legal industry, and while I have real admiration for their intellect and litigation skills, I have found one area where they still have much to learn. Simply put, these kids make some rather poor decisions when it comes to postprandial drinking.
Having attended countless formal business dinners with these burgeoning power brokers, I’ve been shocked at how many nightcap sessions have been lubricated by the same beers and booze that had been flowing since happy hour some five hours earlier.
Perhaps it’s the fact that I have, on average, a good 15 years on most of these pinstriped warriors or maybe it’s the fact that I studied for more than one kind of bar exam. Whatever the reason, it is now part of my responsibility as a peer mentor to educate these lost souls on the joys of the proper after-dinner drink.
Originally concocted by Philip Guichet in 1918, the Grasshopper took second place in a cocktail competition in New York City and became a signature beverage of his New Orleans establishment Tujague’s, where it is still served and celebrated today.
Creamy, minty and sweet, this drink provides just the right ending note even if one has already enjoyed dessert and coffee. A traditional Grasshopper consists of equal parts green crème de menthe, white crème de cacao and cream (with half and half an acceptable substitute). Shaken over ice and strained into a chilled martini glass or coupe, it’s simple, elegant, tasty, and fun to look at, to boot. Garnish, if you must, with a sprig of mint; many editions out there, against the advice of counsel, rim the glass with pulverized chocolate cookie crumbs. Similarly prohibited are both whipped and ice cream. This is not a blender drink.
I’m pleased to report that I’ve had some success in converting a few of the young barristers to proper after-dinner drinkers. A seafoam green libation perched amongst a fleet of Jack and Cokes and Sam Adamses has a way of making a strong closing statement.