20 best Dessert cocktails

Words by Simon Difford

Photography by Dan Malpass

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Back in the early 1990s, Michael Walterhouse of New York's Dill & Prime restaurant, noticed his dessert sales were flagging. People were still ordering starters but simply didn't have the appetite to also have a dessert after the main.

Thinking creatively, Michael concocted his Lemon Meringue Pie'tini and told servers to offer this sweet creamy drink with its pie crust rim to anyone who said they did not have room for dessert.

The cocktail was an instant hit, earning the restaurant some $100,000 a year just in Pie'tini sales.

The three-course meal (starter, main and dessert) is now so endangered by folk deciding just two courses are enough that servers often don't ask, "Would you like a dessert?" but instead ask, "Would you like to see dessert menus?", hinting that delivering the menus to the table for the guests only to decide that their appetite has already been fulfilled is just too much faff. Some seem keen to guide diners past dessert directly onto the check, possibly via a round of coffees.

Eating out is an indulgence which should be enjoyed to the full so if you are too full after your main course, perhaps a dessert cocktail will slide satisfyingly down instead. And while some may want to skip dessert, others will want to be deliciously decadent and enjoy a dessert accompanied by a dessert cocktail.

Hopefully, this two-course intro will leave you in the mood to indulge in some dessert cocktails.

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Affogato Cocktail
With: Grappa, coffee liqueur, dark crème de cacao, espresso coffee, and vanilla ice cream.
We say: Based on the eponymous classic Italian dessert.

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Almond Atholl Brose
With: Honey, scotch whisky, oat milk, amaretto, and cream.
We say: Make your own oatmeal water or use a commercial oat milk. Both make an equally delicious cocktail.

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With: Añejo tequila, amaretto, sherry, and advocaat.
We say: Creamy but not sweet with tequila character shinning through.

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Banana Daiquiri (shaken)
With: Aged rum, crème de banane, lime juice, and Daiquiri Bitters.
We say: Perhaps better named a Sour Banoffee Daiquiri.

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Banana Split
With: Cognac, crème de banana, vanilla bitters, chocolate bitters, banana tea, and cream.
We say: A banana-flavoured after-dinner sipper.

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Bird of Paradise
With: Reposado tequila, white crème de cacao, amaretto, and cream.
We say: If you like tequila and cream cocktails then they don't come much better than this.

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Brandy Alexander
With: Cognac, dark crème de cacao, white crème de cacao, and cream.
We say: A rich, creamy, subtly chocolaty after-dinner classic.

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Champagne Snowball
With: Brut champagne, fino sherry, lime cordial, and advocaat liqueur.
We say: Deliciously silky, indulgent and decadent.

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Creme Egg Cocktail
With: Vanilla vodka, spiced vanilla liqueur, white crème de cacao, advocaat, and cream.
We say: A chocolate and vanilla Easter Egg of a cocktail.

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Dirty Banana
With: Gold lightly aged rum, coffee liqueur, crème de banana, cream, and fresh banana.
We say: Coffee liqueur 'dirties' this indulgent creamy banana cocktail.

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Fairy Cream
With: Absinthe, cream, dark crème de cacao, and white crème de cacao.
We say: Absinthe sits majestically with cream and chocolate in this indulgent cocktail.

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Grasshopper No. 2
With: White crème de cacao, mezcal, Menta Branca, absinthe, cream and green food colour gel.
We say: A mezcal and amaro-influenced riff on the classic Grasshopper.

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Gustings' Grasshopper
With: Cognac, green crème de menthe, white crème de cacao, and cream.
We say: Indulgent, cognac-laced minty, creamy, chocolate.

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Lemon Sherbet Margarita
With: Blanco tequila, limoncello, lemon juice, agave syrup, and lemon sorbet.
We say: As befits the name, a sherbety margarita.

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Minty Pentones
With: Gin, cranberry juice, white crème de menthe, mastiha, and peppermint bitters.
We say: Gin's botanical complexity with mint and mastiha freshness. A cleansing after-dinner refresher.

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Orange Brulée
With: Amaretto, cognac orange liqueur, cognac, and cream.
We say: Looks great and befits its name.

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Parisian Blond
With: Aged Jamaican rum, orange curaçao, cream, and sugar syrup.
We say: A classic from The Savoy Cocktail Book that's better with a funky rum.

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Sgroppino Sorbetto
With: Vodka, cream, prosecco, and lemon sorbet.
We say: A delicious zesty, creamy Venetian classic.

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Tequila Alexander
With: Añejo tequila, dark crème de cacao, white crème de cacao, cream, and egg white.
We say: A creamy tequila and chocolate tequila-based riff on the classic Brandy Alexander.

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Tiramisu Cocktail
With: Coganc, coffee liqueur, dark crème de cacao, cream, egg yolk, and mascarpone cheese.
We say: A rich dessert cocktail to befit its name.

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