History of the classic Grasshopper
1907 | San Francisco, USA
The “Grasshopper” owes its name to its bright green color, which comes from the use of mint liqueur. Recipes using this characteristic of the liqueur started appearing in the beginning of the 20th century. For example, William Boothby – better known as Bill Cocktail” – published two such recipes in 1907 alone: “Mississippi Maid,” a mixture of mint liqueur with milk and sugar, and the “Grasshopper.
The contemporary dessert cocktail’s predecessor consisted of two layers: crème de cacao and mint liqueur. As is traditional for pousse café-style drinks, it was served in a so-called “pony” shot glass. All the credit, however, went not to him, but to a certain Frenchman from Bordeaux, Guillaume Tujague, who came over to New Orleans and opened his eponymous bar, Tujague’s, on Decatur Street in 1856. The bar, which became a legend, is still open to this day, and as in its very first years, there is not a chair to be found. Instead, there’s a long bar, and customers are reflected in a giant antique French mirror behind it, which itself saw its fair share of famous personalities in its day. Not long before his death, in 1912 Tujague sold the establishment to a farmer, Philbert Guichet, who expanded the bar and connected it with Madame Begue’s restaurant next door. In 1919, Guichet added a spoon of brandy to the Grasshopper and took second place in a prestigious New York bartenders’ competition. Afterwards, the cocktail naturally became Tujague’s signature drink.
The Grasshopper’s first spike in popularity came in the 1940s, thanks in large part to the successful marketing strategy of Philadelphia liqueur company Leroux. In the next two decades, the cocktail joined the ranks of the classics and cemented its worldwide fame. At the same time, the canonical recipe saw a series of variations: for example, to make a “Flying Grasshopper,” you should add vodka instead of (or together with) cream to the glass. The “Brown Grasshopper” is made with coffee liqueur; the “Frozen Grasshopper” – with mint ice cream; “and the “High Grasshopper” presumes the use of hemp vodka. Today, the Grasshopper’s former popularity is behind us, but it still pops up here in there in some cultural niches – for example, in “The Big Bang Theory.”
Historian: Vladimir Zhuravlev
Journalists: Sara Davis, Samanta Johnson