Venezuelan Snowball

December 19th, 2010  |  Published in fall, gin, liqueur, recipes, seasonal, yuletide

I’ve written before about créme de menthe and peppermint schnapps, but I don’t mention them frequently because drinks made with them tend to be, well, terrible. Not that I haven’t had a halfway decent Grasshopper in my life, but if I want something sweet and mint-flavored you’ll find me in the Mint M&Ms before you’ll find me ordering a frothy, boozy, minty drink. Of course I’m telling you all this because I’m about to post the recipe for a frothy, boozy, minty drink—the likes of which you’re not likely to have seen before.

This oddball gem comes from Charles H. Baker, Jr.’s South American Gentleman’s Companion, the 1951 follow-up to his famous Gentleman’s Companion compendium. It’s hard, when reading about Charles H. Baker, not to envy his life—a wedding in Hong Kong after a whirlwind ship-board romance, traveling the world with his wife on their boat, tramping along the Andes, hosting legendary Christmas Eve parties in his coastal Florida home for guests like Burl Ives and Ernest Hemingway. I’m not entirely sure that you could write that life and make it believable, even if you were F. Scott Fitzgerald.

When I found the Venezuelan Snowball (or Coctel Pelota de Nieve), I made it because I was sure there was absolutely no way it could be good. In fact, I was pretty sure it was going to be so shudderingly awful that I’d never have to mention it here; but in the manner of such things, it actually turned out to be a fairly pleasant little drink that grows on you. Sort of like an avalanche, if an avalanche were made of liquor and didn’t crush you. Of course, that could be the three ounces of liquor talking, but I’m pretty sure it’s not.

1 oz gin
1 oz white créme de menthe
1 oz Parfait Amour
1 oz cream

Shake well with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Serve with a straw.

Your eyes are probably still glued to the Parfait Amour in the ingredients, and I know it sounds strange. In reality it is strange, though not in an unpleasant way. The Parfait Amour adds a lovely floral, sweet note to the drink that softens up the brasher edges of the mint, while the gin and cream both mellow the overall flavor profile. The lavender color of the drink is another plus, making this an interesting and unusual alternative to other mint-flavored cocktails.

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