If you’re wondering what to do with the ubiquitous candy canes this time of year I give you – the Peppermint Chocolate Old Fashioned. Blending homemade candy cane syrup, whiskey, creme de cacao and chocolate bitters gives you a great seasonal sip.
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Mint Notes in Whiskey
When nosing and tasting whiskey, you’ll often taste mint flavors. Mint comes through on the herbal side of aromas. But the classic pairing of mint and whiskey together is a proven combination given the classic mint julep cocktail. While sometimes that mint note can be distracting when pairing with citrus flavors, here mint flavors only bolster the taste of the candy cane syrup.
What’s in an Old Fashioned Cocktail?
The old fashioned is simple in its classic form – just spirit, sugar and bitters. For a full article with history, elements and how to riff on that classic head here: How to Make a Perfect Old Fashioned. The old fashioned is one of the oldest cocktails. Its first mention in print was in the early 1800s, but we know it was in circulation far before then.
Originally, in colonial days in America, the old fashioned was a morning cocktail, much like we consider the mimosa or bloody mary today. Because at the time bitters were considered medicinal (as was whiskey – proven by the fact that during Prohibition you could still buy whiskey if you had a doctor’s prescription for it) you would take your medicine first thing in the morning, a shot of whiskey with bitters added and a dash of sugar to make it more palatable.
While we’re much less likely to drink hard spirits first thing in the morning, I have been known to fall in love with a Breakfast Old Fashioned earlier in the day with coffee, maple and orange notes. It’s a glorious way to start your morning.
How to Make Candy Cane Syrup for the Peppermint Chocolate Old Fashioned
While you can make a traditional mint syrup with mint tea and simple syrup, or by infusing your simple syrup with fresh mint on the stove, I wanted the taste of candy canes, not just peppermint, to get me in the holiday spirit.
To make this cane syrup I crushed 4 oz of candy canes in the blender, although you can also use a hammer, rolling pin or pestle to crush them, and added them to ½ cup of warm/hot water. I shook the jar vigorously until all the candies were dissolved and my syrup was ready to use.
How to Make the Peppermint Chocolate Old Fashioned
While I made this cocktail with both chocolate and mint flavors (because I had been staring longingly at some Andes mints at the grocery store earlier), you can make this without adding the chocolate flavors. I much prefer the pairing of candy canes and chocolate as you have the bright herbal note of the mint contrasting the darker, bittersweet taste of the chocolate.
If you’re going to make this without the creme de cacao just omit the creme de cacao. You’ll still have just a touch of the chocolate from the chocolate bitters, but I think that’s a good balance from the sweetness of the candy cane syrup in the cocktail.
So to build the drink, you’ll add your candy cane syrup, bourbon, creme de cacao and Bitter Truth chocolate bitters. Add ice, stir for about 30 seconds and strain into a rocks glass with a chocolate candy cane rim.
Other Holiday Drinks You Might Like
- All Hot N Buttered
- Cran of Whoop-Ass, Cranberry Old Fashioned
- Caramel Turtle Alexander
- Chocolate Pomegranate Old Fashioned
- Warm Hearth Warm Hands – Apple Cider Cocktail
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You probably already have these, but you may need them, too:
Peppermint Chocolate Old Fashioned
- ½ oz candy cane syrup** (or regular simple syrup with 1 or 2 drops of peppermint extract)
- ½ oz creme de cacao or your favorite chocolate liqueur
- 2 oz bourbon – 80- 90 proof
- 3 dashes chocolate bitters
- Garnish: chocolate rim with crushed candy canes and a small candy cane garnish
- Add syrup, creme de cacao, bourbon and bitters to a mixing glass and add ice. Stir until well-chilled, strain into a rocks glass with a large cube and garnish.
- 4 oz crushed candy canes
- ½ cup warm water