It is the annual Peeps dilemma: To diorama or dip in dark chocolate? This year, the most polarizing sweets on the planet have become the most polarizing beverage in the dairy case. Yes, there is Peeps milk. It is real and kind of gross but I’m still going to drink it on Easter morning. With booze. And you can, too.
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Let’s be honest, the Peeps brand has a problem. Peeps are seen more as craft supply than candy. Most people who are buying them in mass quantities are only going to hot glue them to a foamcore re-creation of the White House. They are celebrated for their garish colors and pliable personalities, but no one really likes the sugar-coated molded marshmallows. I run the world’s most authoritative seasonal Peeps Tumblr, for example, and I’ve only eaten maybe six Peeps in my entire life.
That’s why Peeps are now available year-round, not only as holiday-appropriate gingerbread men and ghosts and oversized red hearts. When Just Born, the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania manufacturer of Peeps, released an “everyday” brand extension of Peeps last year, the bizarrely flavored Peeps Minis, it was like they had just given up.
How could they possibly make Peeps top of mind again this year? By liquefying them.
Last month, Peeps Marshmallow Milk was announced, claiming it would bring the flavor of Peeps to the one beverage that you would never willingly consume on its own.
But wait, I thought. Peeps milk would make a perfect Easter brunch cocktail.
Suddenly Peeps were exciting again! But with this gut-wrenching news came the gut-wrenching truth: This milk was only available in the Midwest.
I decided I couldn’t have a silly thing like geography stop me from enjoying boozy marshmallowy milk. So I did the only thing a true Peeps fan could do: Persuade a Midwestern emissary to overnight me several dry ice-packed cartons of the milk, and ask for mixology guidance from Alex Day, co-author of Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails, and co-owner of several of my favorite bars, including the brand-new Normandie Club in LA’s Koreatown.
For those who are lucky enough to have Peeps milk in your local supermarket case, these cocktails will be a festive, delicious addition to your Easter morning spread. For those who don’t live in the marshmallow dairy heartland, we’ve humbly suggested substitutions. I recommend using the Marshmallow Milk or Chocolate Marshmallow Milk flavors; the Easter Egg Nog flavor is just egg nog. It’s fine as coffee creamer or something, but due to the Christmas associations it’s not going to make a great springtime cocktail.
These recipes should satiate your spring fever and your desire to combine alcohol with lactose. This Easter, drink with your Peeps, and drink your Peeps.
“We make our White Russians a little differently than The Dude,” says Day. “Instead of mixing the vodka, coffee liqueur, and cream together, we instead stir the vodka and coffee liqueur like a martini or Manhattan, strain into a cocktail glass, then carefully layer a lightly whipped cream on top.” The effect is very cool—a frothy cream on top with a bracingly cold and smooth cocktail underneath.
- 1.5 oz vodka (Day suggests Grey Goose) or Artisanal Peep Vodka (recipe below)
- 1 oz coffee liqueur (Day suggests Café Lolita, Kahlua, or Santa Teresa Aruka)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup Peeps Marshmallow Milk or Marshmallow Fluff
- 1 teaspoon flavored extract such as vanilla or nutmeg (optional)
- Food coloring (optional, I used McCormick Neons for the truest Peep colors)
First, prep the whipped marshmallow cream. In a mixing bowl, combine 1/2 cup of very cold heavy cream with 1/4 cup Marshmallow Peeps Milk or Marshmallow Fluff, plus the extract, if using. Whisk or beat until liquid stiff but not solid, fold in food coloring.
In a mixing glass, combine vodka and coffee liqueur with ice. Stir until cold and strain into a cocktail coupe. Next, carefully layer whipped marshmallow cream on top. Serve quickly.
“Taking inspiration from the classic Ramos Gin Fizz, this is a slight variation incorporating a heavy dose of the Peeps milk,” says Day. “Pretty sure I want to drink this for breakfast.” Plus it’s got egg whites, what could be more Easter than that?
- 2 oz gin (Day suggests Bombay Dry or Plymouth) or Artisanal Peep Vodka (recipe below)
- 1 oz Peeps Marshmallow Milk or heavy cream with a dash of Marshmallow Fluff
- 1 oz simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar, fully dissolved)
- 1 oz lemon juice
- 1 egg white
- Splash of seltzer water
Combine all ingredients in a shaker. Shake first without ice to whip up the egg white. Then, add ice and shake the living hell out of the drink. Strain into a Collins glass and carefully top with seltzer water. The seltzer will make the whole drink expand and puff up. That’s a good thing!
Garnish with a Peep.
If you want to go all the way with your Peeps milk cocktails, you’ve got to make your own Peep hooch. There are marshmallow flavored vodkas, sure. But why would you trust someone else’s take on artificial marshmallow flavor when you can produce your own artificially flavored, artificially colored artisanal marshmallow spirit? (Day did not necessarily condone the use of this spirit in his recipes, which he admitted could be “a little weird”; I’m going rogue here.)
- 1 750 ml bottle vodka (let’s be honest, you’re infusing Peeps, any vodka will do)
- 10 Peeps, all the same color, Chicks or Bunnies both work (classic marshmallow flavor Peeps recommended, but I experimented with flavors, see tasting notes below)
Freeze Peeps for several hours so they’re easier to slice. Divide vodka into two sealable jars (you could use the bottle itself and a large mason jar). Slice Peeps and place 5 Peeps in each half of the vodka. You can let the bottles sit in the fridge for a few days to infuse, but with Easter less than 48 hours away, a little heat will move the process along ( this recipe suggests putting the bottles in the dishwasher for one cycle, I warmed mine in a vegetable steamer). Strain out the solids and use in either of the above recipes.
The Peep infused vodka is actually pretty good—marshmallowy and not too sweet. But the amazing colors are what sold me on it, which give these cocktails lovely pastel hues. If you go classic, the pink, orange and yellow Peeps produced the best, most appetizing colors.
I also tried several variations with various flavored Peeps. Party Cake resulted in a delicious deep vanilla marshmallow flavor that would work very well in the Marshmallow White Russian, just reduce the coffee liqueur by half because it’s already sweet (and so the freakish Windex-like color can shine through). The Orange or Lemon Creme flavors would be perfect substituted for the gin in the Easter Peep Ramos Gin Fizz recipe above (omit the simple syrup). Sour Watermelon is not recommended for infusing.
Finally, this is probably kind of gross but there is always a layer of colored sugar left in the bottom of the Peeps box and this looks beautiful dusted on top of either Peep cocktail. It’s all in the details.
Additional thanks to Jim Rota for sneaking Peeps milk across state lines
This article was originally published on April 3, 2015