I never loved making gingerbread houses, but if you gave me this gingerbread martini while assembling one we’d have a grand time, even the house turned out a little crooked. I wanted to put together a flavor combination that was quintessentially Christmas – and when I saw gingerbread cookies in a recent text storm with friends I knew I’d found my muse.
For this cocktail I’m using molasses, bourbon cream, Irish whiskey, ginger liqueur, bitters and a pinch of clove to make this fun but sophisticated tipple. The best news? This one would be way too easy to batch for a party!
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The Flavors of Gingerbread
A typical recipe for gingerbread includes ginger, but also the bitter sweetness of molasses. Combined with allspice, a little clove, vanilla and plenty of brown sugar, the flavor of gingerbread is largely driven by the inclusion of molasses. The unmistakable flavor of molasses tells your taste buds from the first bite that you’re eating a gingerbread cookie.
Take out the molasses, and it won’t taste like gingerbread, no matter how much ginger you put into it. But you still need those combined spices of ginger, clove and allspice to tie all the flavors together to what we recognize as gingerbread.
A Few Facts about Gingerbread
Gingerbread as we experience it – with a combination of both ginger and molasses flavors – didn’t come about until 15th century Medieval Europe. Further back, the earliest discovered recipe for gingerbread originated in Greece in 2400 BC, and other versions of it were also found in China in the 10th century.
They made their way along the Silk Road and eventually got to Medieval Europe where they were a staple in celebrations and fairs. Credit for decorating gingerbread cookies as we know them today goes to Queen Elizabeth I. “Over time some of these festivals came to be known as Gingerbread Fairs, and the gingerbread cookies served there were known as ‘fairings.’ The shapes of the gingerbread changed with the season, including flowers in the spring and birds in the fall,” said Tori Avey for PBS.org.
Making the Gingerbread Martini
This gingerbread martini went through several iterations to find this perfect form. And the most important thing for the balance of the cocktail was the right amount of molasses. I initially used much less molasses, but I needed far more to get the right punch of molasses.
Since I was adding cream, both the sweetness and the bitterness of molasses was reduced. Molasses’ bitterness balanced the sweetness of both the bourbon cream and the ginger liqueur.
I decided on Irish whiskey because it has so much of that lovely cereal grain flavor. It was a great match for the cocktail. You can use any whiskey for this, as it’s primarily adding vanilla notes and baking spices to the cocktail’s aroma and taste.
Since this cocktail has cream in it with the bourbon cream, you’ll make it in a shaker over ice. But if you want to make the cocktail even creamier, pour it into another vessel or tumbler and use a hand-held latte whisk on it for 20 seconds. It makes the cocktail creamy and plush with every sip.
Other Holiday Cocktails You Might Enjoy
- Chocolate Peppermint Old Fashioned
- Cran of Whoop-Ass
- Bananas Foster Sour
- Caramel Turtle Alexander
- Hot n Buttered Rum Cider
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Recommended Bar Tools
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You probably already have these, but you may need them, too:
- scant ½ oz molasses
- ¾ oz ginger liqueur
- 1.5 oz bourbon cream
- 1 oz Irish whiskey
- 3 dashes gingerbread bitters
- Pinch of ground clove
- Garnish: drizzle of molasses and pinch of clove
- Combine molasses, ginger liqueur, bourbon cream, Irish whiskey, gingerbread bitters, pinch of clove in a shaking tin and add ice. Shake for 10 seconds and strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a drizzle of molasses and a pinch of clove for aromatics. Try to sip slowly.