12 Drinks of Christmas 2016: Girl from Ipanema Cocktail Recipe
It’s the time of the year for holiday decorations, twinkling lights, warm spices, and a rolling series of parties, gatherings, and celebrations. For the second year in a row, we’ll be adding to the festivities with twelve drinks to make all of those parties just a little merrier and brighter.
Anyone following us recently knows that our current favorite cocktail lounge is Baldwin & Sons Trading Company in the Boston suburb of Woburn (Yes, Woburn!). Not only do they serve creative, beautiful, interesting drinks, but they generously share their complete recipes on their menu. We’ve enthusiastically passed those recipes on to you, along with the strong recommendation, ‘Go to Baldwin & Sons!’ You won’t be disappointed. With their recipes in hand, you can make a nice approximation of their drinks, but it’s a whole other thing to see them make it themselves.
Given how freely we pass along their recipes, you might be surprised to know that we’ve been holding one back, because we thought it would be fit in perfectly as one of the 12 Drinks of Christmas. With its fluffy white top and minty flavor, it’s the cocktail version of a peppermint meringue.
The key to this drink is the surprisingly effective use of creme de menthe. Creme de menthe is not something you often see in a genuine cocktail lounge. In fact, all of the creme des … (cacao, banane, etc.) have generally been avoided by serious bartenders during the recent cocktail renaissance. In the long dark age of the cocktail post-Prohibition, these cremes had gone from being lovingly crafted liqueurs suitable for drinking straight and even better in a cocktail, to being a series of mass-produced, cheap, one-note bottom shelf schnapps gaudy with artificial colors and artificial flavors. In short, these cremes suddenly found themselves below the standard of what we’d put in a respectable drink. Avoiding them altogether has its costs, though, making many classic cocktail flavors hard to duplicate. With creme de menthe, for instance, using one of the cheap brands invariably makes the drink taste like an eager-to-please mouthwash. But it would nice to be able to make cocktails with a true, strong peppermint flavor, especially this time of year.
Baldwin’s Girl from Ipanema finds its way to refreshingly minty and not at all mouthwashy by making two smart choices.
Use a Good Creme de Menthe
That’s easier said than done, of course. There needs to be a high quality creme de menthe in order for Baldwin to use it. So, most of the credit for this one goes to Tempus Fugit for taking on the noble task of producing and selling high quality versions of the much maligned creme liqueurs. They take their work seriously, doing historical research into recipes, using only the best ingredients, and avoiding production shortcuts. The result comes at a price, being about twice as expensive as the cheap, industrial alternatives; but it’s worth every penny. The bottom shelf brands have an abrasive, moonshine bite to them, and that distinctively false Kool-Aid quality of being reminiscent of a flavor, rather than actually tasting like the flavor. Tempus Fugit’s version, in contrast, is smooth and has the natural, complex flavor of a mix of peppermint and spearmint, with some other softer herbs bringing depth.
Pair the Mint with an Unexpected Companion Flavor
All of the above being said, Tempus Fugit’s creme de menthe is still quite assertively minty. While its flavor is far more pleasant and complex than mouthwash, the strength of that flavor still feels a bit like it was designed to overwhelm. It has a tendency to take over a drink. Girl from Ipanema mitigates against that minty totalitarianism by putting it into an unconventional flavor pairing with tropical fruit. Whereas the more expected companions to mint don’t do enough to quiet the mint down, and other strong flavors merely compete, the fruit softens the mint without competing. The overall effect is distinctly minty, vaguely fruity, not at all overwhelming, and entirely pleasant.
Try it yourself. You’ll see what we mean.
Girl from Ipanema Cocktail Recipe
from Baldwin & Son’s Trading Company, vol. 1
- 1 oz cachaca
- 1 oz creme de menthe–Tempus Fugit, of course
- 3/4 oz passion fruit syrup–we couldn’t find any good passion fruit; so we used mango instead, which worked alright. We made our syrup by the ‘Slightly Less Simple‘ syrup recipe. A quarter cup of water, a quarter cup of sugar, and a few chunks of passion fruit or mango in a very small saucepan will give you more than what you need.
- 3/4 oz lemon juice
- 2 dashes vanilla cordial
- 1 egg white
- Combine all in a cocktail shaker without ice, and shake for about twenty seconds to get the egg white frothing.
- Add ice, and shake some more.
- Strain into a cocktail glass.