This Candy Cane Martini is the perfect holiday cocktail for peppermint lovers! A crushed candy cane rim makes this drink extra festive and eye-catching. Vanilla vodka, peppermint schnapps, and white chocolate liqueur all combine to make this a super tasty, creamy and satisfying cocktail.
This cocktail is perfect for Christmas and the winter holidays. It's rich and creamy, but the refreshing peppermint candy flavor cuts through for a truly delicious holiday sip!
Winter is such a great season for cocktails! Check out this Mulled Wine recipe, Eggnog recipe, and this Mistletoe Martini for some other delicious options. Or browse through my Christmas Cocktails page!
Here are the ingredients you'll need to mix up this drink:
- Vanilla Vodka - I used Stolichnaya vanilla vodka, but any decent brand will work great.
- Peppermint Schnapps - I used Rumple Minze, which is a great tasting schnapps. This schnapps is super high in both alcohol and sugar, so keep that in mind when you're mixing!
- White Chocolate Liqueur - Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur works perfectly here.
- Half and Half - half and half, which is a mixture of half heavy cream and half whole milk, is perfect for this drink. If you want to make it creamier, use just heavy cream. For a less creamy result, go for just whole milk.
- Corn syrup - the corn syrup isn't for the drink itself, but to stick the candy canes onto the rim of the glass. This is a super thick syrup and holds the heavy candies in place perfectly.
- Candy cane chunks - I got pre-crushed candy canes for the rim of the glass, but you can just get a pack of candy canes and crush your own.
- Whole candy cane - mini candy canes work perfectly as a little extra garnish. You could also use a full size candy cane.
If you don't have some of the ingredients, here are some substitutions you can make.
- Vanilla vodka - use plain vodka instead, along with ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract. It might tint the final drink brownish, but only a tiny bit.
- Peppermint schnapps - you can use peppermint syrup instead of the schnapps (or simple syrup plus ¼ teaspoon of peppermint extract). If you do, just increase the amount of vodka to 1½ ounces.
- White chocolate liqueur - if you can't find this liqueur, you can try using an Irish Cream liqueur or Rumchata instead.
- Corn syrup - if corn syrup is not available near you, you can use any thick syrup instead, like golden syrup.
- Candy cane rim - if you are having trouble getting your candy cane pieces to stick in place, you might have more success by crushing the candy into smaller pieces. You can even blitz it in the blender to make a candy powder that will stick really easily.
Here are some variations on this recipe that you can try!
- Keto friendly Candy Cane Martini - there is a lot of sweetness in this drink, but it is definitely doable to make it much lower in sugar. If you want to keep the candy rim, you'll need to get some sugar free candy canes to crush up for the candy cane rim, and for garnish. You'll also need sugar free syrup to stick the candy cane rim on and to sweeten the drink. Make the drink itself using 2 oz vanilla vodka, 1 oz heavy cream (or 1½ oz half and half), ¼ teaspoon of peppermint extract, and 1 oz of sugar free syrup.
- Candy Cane Shot - if you want to have just a small amount of this cocktail, you can make a whole drink and serve it in a candy cane shot glass! One recipe will make about 3 shots, depending on the size of the glass. For a stronger tasting shot, you can omit the half and half and it will make about 2 shots.
- Virgin Candy Cane Martini - for anyone who's not drinking, you can make a virgin version of this cocktail! Combine ½ oz vanilla syrup, ½ oz peppermint syrup, 1½ ounces whole milk, 1½ ounces half and half, and ½ oz white chocolate syrup. Shake it up with ice the same way as you would with the normal recipe.
- Dairy Free version - you can substitute in unsweetened coconut milk or cream for the half and half, and swap the white chocolate liqueur for a white chocolate syrup. You can also try using almond or oat milk, but it won't have as creamy of a texture.
To make this cocktail, you'll need to have some bar tool basics on hand. A jigger, cocktail shaker and strainer, and a martini style serving glass are all must haves. You'll also need two small dishes in order to stick on the crushed candy cane rim.
If you need any new bar equipment, the products from A Bar Above are my go-to! You can get 10% off using my discount code, LKDrinks. Their bar tools are both durable and beautiful, and also can be thrown in the dishwasher when you're done with them!
Start out by adding the crushed candy canes to your serving glass rim. Put some corn syrup in a small dish, and some crushed candy canes in another.
Dip the rim in the corn syrup so it is coated all around. Hold it above the corn syrup dish for about 30 seconds when you're done to let any excess drip off.
Then, dip the coated rim into the crushed candy canes. You may want to pause while dipping to give the candy a chance to really stick on. Turn and re-dip until it is all coated, and set the glass aside.
Add the vanilla vodka and the peppermint schnapps to a cocktail shaker.
Then, add in the white chocolate liqueur and the half and half to the cocktail shaker.
Fill the shaker with ice, then seal and shake well for about 15 to 20 seconds.
Strain the drink into your prepared glass, and add a candy cane garnish before serving.
Hint: If you want to chill your serving glass to keep the drink cold longer, use the method where you put the prepared glass in the fridge for 30 minutes rather than adding ice water to the bowl of the glass. Adding the ice water will likely mess up the candy rim.
Frequently Asked Questions
To make the candy cane pieces really stay in place, you'll need a super sticky syrup. I like to use corn syrup, but you could also use honey, or a rich simple syrup (2 to 1 ratio of sugar to water). Be sure to let the excess syrup drip off for a minute before dipping into the candy.
Peppermint schnapps is a mixture of a neutral grain alcohol (think: Everclear), sugar and peppermint flavoring. It is very strong (50% alcohol) because of how strong the grain alcohol base is.
Top tip - Making it ahead
You can easily make a big batch of these ahead of time for a party! They will keep in the fridge for a while, up until the expiration date of your half and half.
To make a big batch, instead of shaking with ice, add ½ ounce of water to the mixture per cocktail and keep it all chilled in a pitcher in the fridge. A 30 ounce batch would be 6 drinks. You'd need 5 ounces vanilla vodka, 2.5 ounces peppermint schnapps, 7.5 ounces white chocolate liqueur, 7.5 ounces half and half and 2.5 ounces water. Cheers!
Candy Cane Martini
- Cocktail serving glass (Martini glass) (at least 5 ounces capacity)
- 2 tablespoons corn syrup
- 2 tablespoons crushed candy cane pieces
- 1 candy cane (I like to use mini sized, but large will work fine too)
Candy Cane Rim
- Add corn syrup to a small dish and the crushed candy canes to a second small dish.
- Dip the rim of your serving glass into the corn syrup, and rotate the glass so the entire rim is coated in the syrup.
- Hold the glass above the syrup dish and wait about 30 to 60 seconds for any excess syrup to drip off. You can twirl the glass in your hand if you need to to make the coating more even.
- Dip the syrup-coated rim into the candy cane pieces. Give it a second or two before lifting the glass out of the candy, then turning the glass slightly and dipping again. Repeat until the entire rim is coated.
- Set the glass aside while you make the drink.
- Measure and add the vanilla vodka, peppermint schnapps, white chocolate liqueur, and half and half to a cocktail shaker.
- Fill the shaker with ice, seal it and shake for 15 to 20 seconds.
- Open the shaker and use a cocktail strainer to strain the drink into your prepared glass.
- Add the whole candy cane to the side of the glass as an extra garnish, and serve.