If you are looking to get into the holiday spirit, then try this delicious, smooth, dairy free, 3 ingredient, peppermint schnapps based cocktail. You’ll only need one drink to feel holly and jolly. This peppermint cocktail is like drinking a liquified candy cane. Perfect as a Christmas cocktail or anytime you want a bit of peppermint in your drink. Left over candy canes make a perfect garnish to this drink.
So this isn’t my typical blog post. I originally published this recipe back on December 1, 2016, so I’m giving this recipe an overhaul. While the blog pivoted into food reviews since 2016, going into 2019 you’ll still get lots of reviews (there are over 1,000 of them here), but I’m going to start adding some recipes and cooking tips back into the mix about once a week. I genuinely love food and cooking. This has been such a phenomenal source of sharing among all my readers.
I’m off from work this week and I had the chance to visit what I like to think of as my happy place: the Institute of Culinary Education. If I’m not at work, or working on this blog, then I’m totally rolling up my sleeves and learning something new. One of the things I worked on there was a mixology course.
Since the New Year is almost upon us, there are two common New Year’s Resolutions: weight loss and saving money. This will only help you with the latter part of that statement. If you’ve visited Manhattan just to have a drink, a cocktail on average, will set you back close to $18. Each. Before tip. Yikes.
If you enjoy imbibing yourself from time to time, then you might as well get a few bar basics and learn a few skills that will take no more than 10 minutes. You’ll save yourself a fortune. If not in drinks alone, but also in the Uber ride home. Plus, this is a great way to use up leftover candy canes.
There is an art to cocktail making. But if you follow these simple steps, it will up your home bar tending game.
Secrets to a Great Cocktail
There are three skills you need to make a great cocktail. There is an art to shaking, stirring, and muddling. Fortunately, this drink only requires the fine art of shaking. And you’ll master that skill after trying this recipe.
You didn’t think that was all right?
Here is the real secret to a great cocktail: ice. I live just outside of NYC and one thing that we have is great drinking water. That is not the case for everyone. If your drinking water isn’t so awesome, perhaps is smells, is hard, or you reach for bottled water rather than tap, then it’s time you consider changing this one essential detail. Think about making ice with bottled water or buying ice for the purpose of cocktail making.
The Importance of Ice
So, this is a stumbling block for so many homemade drinks. If your ice has been sitting in your freezer, it might be absorbing the aromas inside. Use fresh ice. Also, if you are in an area where your water tastes off, has a smell to it, this too will taint your cocktail.
If you find yourself reaching for bottled water over tap, then please make ice with the bottled water. You’ll immediately elevate your cocktail.
Want that picture perfect clear ice? Just use freshly boiled water, pour into an ice cube tray, then allow to freeze in your freezer.
This cocktail is not served on the rocks, or on ice, but the ice is used to chill the cocktail. And let’s be honest, have you ever had a good cocktail at room temperature? I haven’t. Chilled is where great cocktails are.
Basic Equipment for a Home Bar
So we’ve all seen them. It seems like so many places are happy to sell you an entire starter kit for your home bar. But a lot of those sets have components that you might never use, or you probably have something that can do the job just as well.
What does a home bar really need? A shaker, a muddler, glassware, a strainer, a measuring device for the liquid. Oh, and a way to make ice fresh. You can buy ice or make ice in a separate container. Your call.
What equipment does this recipe require? A shaker, Boston shaker, or even a strainer top to a mason jar work well, glassware, some sort of measuring device. Yes, it can be as simple as a measuring cup. And if you are making more than one of these, then yes, measuring cup is the way to go as long as it has ounces on it. No need to reinvent the wheel.
What Vodka Should I Use?
Here is advice that you won’t read often: You should use vodka that tastes good to you. Now, I wouldn’t reach for the cheapest stuff at your liquor store. But I would try new things and find one thing you really enjoy sipping on. There are no shortage of vodka options at the liquor store. So if you have a preference, by all means use that.
For this recipe, I had Smirnoff in the house. But I personally also like Tito’s. (Not sponsored, just in case you were wondering). Since vodka should be colorless and pretty neutral in flavor, I’d save my liquor money and use it on a different spirit where I feel the flavor (and price) makes a bigger difference.
Making A Holly Jolly Peppermint Martini
First, check to make sure you have simple syrup on hand. If you don’t, it is easy as anything to make. It is equal parts sugar and water. Heat in a sauce pan until sugar is fully dissolved. Allow it to cool to room temperature before using in this cocktail.
If you store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator, it should last 3-4 weeks. The color of your simple syrup should be a very pale yellow. If you are using organic sugar, it will be slightly darker as organic sugar has more molasses in it. That also means the flavor will be slightly different.
Step 1 (optional): If you are going to rim your glass, now is the time to do it. On two separate plates, place 1 drop about a 1 tsp in size (don’t measure, it doesn’t take much) of corn syrup or agave. Why corn syrup or agave? Because the candy is heavier that most items you rim a glass with, it is more likely to stay on the glass.
On the second plate place crushed candy cane. Tip: If you are crushing mini candy canes, do it inside the plastic bag it comes in. Use a meat mallet or rolling pin to crush it. Or just smack it against the counter. Your choice.
Run the rim of the glass along the syrup or agave first, then press into the crushed candy cane. Set aside.
Step 2: Place ice in a cocktail shaker and add 3 ounces of vodka, 1 ounce of peppermint schnapps, and 1/2 ounce of simple syrup.
Step 3: Shake vigorously until the outside of your shaker is cold and you can feel and SEE the chill all the way up and down the cocktail shaker. It takes about 15-20 seconds of shaking. Tip: Make sure the top of your shaker is on firmly. I always give mine a test shake to confirm. I chose to use a stainless steel shaker to show you how cold the shaker should be. That was chrome, but not after shaking. You want to feel the chill throughout the shaker.
Step 4: Pour into rimmed (or not rimmed, your cocktail, your choice) glass and enjoy!
Get into the spirit of the holidays with this spirited drink and hopefully you too will have a holly jolly holiday. This drink is full of spirits, so it will warm you on a cold winters night. It is on the strong side, so know your limits, drink responsibly. Cheers to another New Year!
If you’ve tried this Holly Jolly Peppermint Martini or any other recipe on the blog, I’d love the hear what you thought about it in the comments below. I love hearing from you!
Holly Jolly Peppermint Martini
- 3 ounces vodka
- 1 ounce peppermint schnapps
- 1/2 ounce simple syrup or more if you like a sweeter drink. If you add more reduce vodka)
- 5 ice cubes
- 1 Crushed Candy Cane for rimming glass Optional
- 1 tsp Corn Syrup or Agave for rimming glass Optional
- Rim martini glass with corn syrup or agave first and then crushed candy cane to create a decorative rim. Note: Syrups will help your sugary item stay better than any liquid. It will also not impart any flavor.
- Fill a shaker with ice
- Add vodka, peppermint schnapps, and simple syrup
- Shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds
- Add to glass and enjoy. You'll be holly and jolly after one drink. Happy holidays!
- Be sure to rim your glass first
- Use quality ice
- Shake long enough so you feel (and see) the chill outside of the shaker.