Chocolate, cake, cookies and ice cream are obvious choices when you’re craving dessert or a sugary treat, but bartenders and cocktail aficionados know there’s more than one way to satiate a sweet tooth. Well-mixed drinks are great substitutes for more classic desserts, offering a flavorful, spiked kick alongside the satisfying sweetness. This is seen in everything from the Chocolate Martini (vodka, chocolate liqueur, creme de cacao, half-and-half) to the Grassshopper, a minty concoction that features green creme de menthe, white creme de cacao and heavy cream. Occasionally, such drinks are aimed at replicating specific desserts, like the Pineapple Upside-Down Cake.
This cocktail is like the fun, eye-catching cake in liquid form. The cake itself is made with all the usual ingredients, including flour, sugar, butter, vanilla extract and baking powder, but it gets its trademark flavor from pineapple juice, pineapple slices and maraschino cherries. The cocktail version naturally skips a few of those ingredients, like the butter, eggs and flower, and it doesn’t require any time in the oven. So, it’s much easier to make, calling for just three ingredients: vanilla vodka, pineapple juice and grenadine.
The flavored vodka roughly mirrors the cake, as most of the dessert’s recipes use yellow cake mix or require homemade cake batter spiked with vanilla extract. The pineapple juice is an essential ingredient in the cake as well as the drink. You can use canned juice if you prefer, but fresh always tastes best, so it’s worth the extra step to procure and then juice a pineapple.
The grenadine adds a characteristic red accent, playing the part of the dessert’s bright-red maraschino cherries. Because the grenadine has a denser gravity than the pineapple juice and vodka, it floats to the bottom of the glass, creating a layered effect which again mirrors the cake’s visuals.
You might get a few strange looks when you pull out of a tray of drinks and start singing happy birthday, especially if your guests were promised cake. But everyone will feel good about the decision once they taste this sweet and fruity cocktail. And, unlike when you bake a cake, your kitchen won’t be covered in flour, and you won’t have to pull out a bunch of bowls and baking tools to make drinks. So, it’s a win all around.
1 ounce vanilla vodka
2 ounces pineapple juice
1 dash grenadine
Add the vanilla vodka and pineapple juice into a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.
Strain into a cocktail glass.
Add one dash of grenadine down the side of the glass, so it slips to the bottom.