This is one of my originals and probably the most popular cocktail I’ve ever created. On the surface it’s not much more than a Gimlet with sugar snap peas and tarragon. But together the crisp freshness of the peas and the delicate aromatics of the tarragon create something much greater than the sum of their parts. It’s like a breath of fresh spring air - only with booze.
I wish I had a better story of how I came up with it, but it was just dumb luck. I’ve thought longer and worked harder on plenty of other drinks. Nevertheless, I’m glad the cocktail gods dropped the Green Giant into my lap. I love this cocktail. It's an approachable crowd pleaser that's still comes off as unique and is also a great drink to make at home.
Note, the gin I call for here - Hayman’s Old Tom Gin - is what I designed the drink with and what I think makes the best Green Giant. But I realize most people don’t have access to this brand or style. Not to worry, there’s an alternative recipe using classic London Dry gin below.
2 oz Hayman's Old Tom gin (or substitute London dry)
¾ oz fresh lemon juice
¾ oz simple syrup (1 oz if using London dry gin)
½ oz dry vermouth
6 sugar snap peas (2 for garnish)
10-12 Tarragon leaves
In a shaker, muddle 4 of the sugar snap peas and tarragon leaves in the simple syrup. Add the remaining ingredients. Fill with ice, shake and strain into a chilled rocks glass over crushed, or cracked ice. Garnish with the two remaining snap peas.
If you make a Green Giant, let me see!
Tag a photo with #socialhourcocktails on Instagram.
No Hayman’s Old Tom? Use London Dry.
Broadly speaking, Old Tom Gin is softer and slightly sweeter than a typical London dry like Tanqueray or Beefeater. Hayman’s in particular has a softness that is perfectly for this drink, allowing the peas and tarragon come through as the drink’s primary flavors, with the gin botanicals supporting. But I don't recommend using any Old Tom Gin. It's not a clearly defined style so they can differ vastly brand to brand. Some are barrel aged, such as Ransom Old Tom - to name one of the better known options, which sends the drink in a completely differ direction. It might not be bad per se, but I think it deviates from the core essence of the original.
Instead, if you don’t have Hayman’s Old Tom Gin, use the stock gin in the your cabinet and increase the simple syrup portion to about 1 oz. Gordon’s for one works well, and it is extremely affordable.
Sugar Snap Peas in Cocktails
I’ve been surprised by the Green Giant’s success since it first hit Clover Club's spring menu in 2012. Initially, I thought peas in a cocktail would turn people off. But I was wrong. I think the main reason it caught on is it managed to be at once surprising and familiar.
Sugar snap peas in cocktails work similarly to cucumber. All of us remember the mind-blowing experience of having cucumber in a cocktail for the first time (a cucumber mint gimlet for me). It’s a flavor we know very well, just one we aren’t used to in cocktails (of course, now cucumbers are practically as common in cocktails ingredient as ice). I think people had the same experience with the Green Giant. As I often like to joke, on the my tombstone it’s going to read: “Here lies Tom, he muddled sugar snap peas into a drink.”
Or maybe it's just that the name is awesome, 100% of the credit for which goes to my wife, Ellen.