The much-maligned grasshopper bounces back at Pittsburgh bars | Drink | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

The much-maligned grasshopper bounces back at Pittsburgh bars

"People make fun of you for ordering a grasshopper, but they secretly want to drink the grasshopper."


When Sean Rosenkrans, a bartender at Tender in Lawrenceville, suggested a few weeks ago that I try a grasshopper, my initial reaction was, "You're joking, right?"

But he'd just made one for a big fan of the drink seated nearby: Brian Mendelssohn, principal at Botero Development.

"People make fun of you for ordering a grasshopper," Mendelssohn said, "but they secretly want to drink the grasshopper."

For me, there were no secrets: I didn't want to drink the grasshopper. But I ordered one anyway, because I believe in trusting my bartender. And although I don't have much of a sweet tooth, I found the grasshopper delightful. It's a dessert and a drink together, and it's much more enjoyable than the boozy milkshakes that were all the rage in recent years.

As Mendelssohn described it, "The flavor is like an Andes candy in a drink. Who doesn't like that?"

It's thought that the cocktail was created in Louisiana in the 1940s, though it really rose to prominence as a groovy cocktail in the 1970s. It's a shamrock-green blend made from equal parts crème de menthe, crème de cacao and heavy cream. The ingredients are shaken violently over ice and strained frothy into a martini glass.

The grasshopper seems to be having a moment in Pittsburgh. In addition to Tender, it's on the menu at Kelly's, where it's shaken table-side. Spencer Warren served the drink in miniature glass jugs and picnic straws at one of his pop-up Embury nights.

Rosenkrans did offer one caveat: "If you want to make a good grasshopper, you need quality ingredients." When made with a bottom-shelf spirit, the drink is overly sweet, something better suited for a TGI Friday's nightmare than a lovely nightcap. That's why Rosenkrans prefers Tempus Fugit spirits, a high-end brand that's relatively new to the state.

So don't be scared to step back into the 1970s. As Mendelssohn told me, "It's not a flavor you always want, but sometimes it's something that you crave."

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of Sean Rosenkrans.

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