Mixology Monday LXXI: Key Lime Pie Martinis from Crass to Craft

We enjoyed participating in last month’s Mixology Monday with our Union Square and Pisco Pedicab inverted cocktails. Scott Diaz of Shake, Strain and Sip is hosting this month’s Mixology Monday with an interesting theme of “crass” to “craft” cocktails. To read the thoughts behind this theme, click to read the post in Scott’s blog. As a short summary, most cocktails today focus on “craft” ingredients such as Amaro or Creme de Violette; but the crass ingredients, such as flavored Vodkas or Midori, have more or less been barred from most shelves. So the call was to focus on creating a drink using one or more crass ingredients to create a craft cocktail. Scott also added that we could take it a step further and reinvent a crass cocktail like the Appletini or Cosmo; in our case, we chose to focus on the Key Lime Pie Martini, circa 2001.


There is a bit of a personal reason behind the choice of the Key Lime Pie Martini; it’s part of the story of how the BarFlys actually met at the bar (where else?) in Palo Alto’s Zibibbo restaurant. Having come back from a weekend in Southern California where Key Lime Pie Martinis were all the rage in the early 2000s, one of us was telling the Zibibbo bartender how to make it when the other sat next to her on the open stool. Hiding his disgust, it opened up conversation between us anyway and the rest is now history.

It has been awhile since we made one, but we had recently resurrected the recipe for a bartender friend who was thinking of creating an updated version, so we already had all of the ingredients. When we saw this month’s Mixology Monday theme, we immediately thought this would be our entry.

Our original Key Lime Pie Martini recipe is made with Vanilla-flavored Vodka, Midori, pineapple and key lime juices. Condensed milk is an essential ingredient for most key lime pies, so we use that as the sweetener which also adds a little bit of creaminess:

Key Lime Pie Martini (“Crass” Classic Version)
2 oz. Vanilla Vodka
0.25 oz. Midori
1 oz. Pineapple Juice
1 oz. Key Lime Juice
1 barspoon condensed milk
Crumbled graham cracker mixed with a little bit of sugar

Wet the rim of a martini glass with lime and dip into the crumbled graham crackers and set aside. Mix the condensed milk with the pineapple and key lime juices with a spoon in a cocktail shaker until the condensed milk is integrated. Add Vanilla Vodka, Midori and ice, and shake until the cocktail is chilled. Double strain the contents of the shaker into the prepared Martini glass. Garnish with a key lime slice (optional).


It was hard to come up with a craft version of this Martini, but we believe that this one comes pretty close. We had a bottle of Rémy Martin V Eau de Vie that we used as a Cognac replacement for the inverted Vieux Carré, so we used this as the base to replace the Vodka (not to mention that clear liquors seem to be very in right now). We tried six or seven different experiments before we found the recipe below. To turn the crass ingredients into a craft one, we knew we had to replace the Midori, which really was there for color and a little bit of sweetness. Our first thought was to create a Key Lime syrup that could serve as the sweetener and also add a more intense lime flavoring.

Our initial experiments included pineapple juice along with the key lime syrup and Rémy V — the drink was Tiki-like good, but it was missing the Vanilla flavor to make it more like the pie. We tried versions with vanilla and key lime tinctures as well, but found that orgeat added the right amount of creaminess and vanilla-like flavor. We also found that the pineapple juice was no longer needed between the lime syrup and orgeat, and the sweet and tart key lime pie flavor profile was achieved. A graham cracker rim remains essential to the drinking experience.

The basic ingredients for the updated “craft” version of the Key Lime Pie Martini are Rémy Martin V, Key Lime Syrup, Orgeat and key lime juice:

Key Lime Pie Martini (Updated)
2 oz. Rémy Martin V
0.5 oz. Key Lime Syrup (recipe below)
0.75 oz Orgeat (recipe below)
0.75 oz Key Lime Juice
Crumbled graham cracker crumbs mixed with a little bit of sugar

Wet the rim of a cocktail glass with lime and dip into the crumbled graham crackers and set aside. Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until chilled. Double strain into the prepared cocktail glass. Garnish with a charred candied key lime slice (optional).

Key Lime Syrup
1/3 cup fresh squeezed key lime juice
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and heat until the sugar is dissolved. The syrup is ready to use when cool.

6 oz raw almonds (about 1 1/8 cup)
1.75 cups water (boiled, then cooled down to about 120F)
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp. orange flower water
0.5 oz Vodka

Rinse the almonds and soak them in a bowl of water for 30 minutes. Discard all of the water and coarsely chop the almonds using a food processor. Transfer the chopped almonds into the bowl and add the warm water. Let sit for about 3-4 hours making sure to stir up the mixture every hour or so. Pour the almond milk through cheese-cloth lined strainer into another bowl. Using the cheese cloth, squeeze all of the liquid from the chopped almonds into the bowl and discard the almond pulp. Strain the almond milk into a jar and add sugar, vodka and orange flower water and mix until all of the sugar is dissolved. Keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks and make sure to shake the jar prior to use (the mixture will separate).


Making a key lime pie is likely the easiest dessert in the world and is probably one of those things that people are better off not knowing what’s in it. But for those that want to drink this Martini and eat the pie, here is the quick recipe: Mix 4 egg yolks and 2 T. of grated key lime rind (optional) with 1 can of condensed milk (14 oz. by weight). Mix in 1/2 cup key lime juice, and watch the magic of the liquid start to set. Pour into a pie plate with a crust made of 8 crumbled graham crackers, 3 T. melted butter and 2T sugar (previously par-baked at 350F for 15 minutes) and bake for 20 minutes in a 350F oven. Chill for a few hours and serve (with or without the Martini).

A Key Lime Pie Martini is probably not considered a craft cocktail, but we had fun trying to come up with an updated version. It may not be retro enough to include on any drink menus, at least not yet, but maybe one day it will be.

Many thanks again to Mixology Monday and Scot Diaz of Shake, Strain and Sip for hosting this month’s roundup.

Related Posts
MxMo LXXI: From Crass to Craft (Shake, Strain and Sip)
Shake, Strain & Sip: MxMo Roundup (from Crass to Craft)
Mixology Monday Site
Mixology Monday: Inverted Cocktails (Union Square and Nemo)

View all BarFlySF Cocktail Recipe Posts


5 responses to “Mixology Monday LXXI: Key Lime Pie Martinis from Crass to Craft

    • Grazie Ilaria! That would be great to a have a camera do that. But until then, Key Limes are distinctly from the South (Florida to be exact), but you could still make the simple pie using regular limes or a mixture of limes and lemons for tartness. Then make the cocktail …

  1. Pingback: MxMo LXXI Roundup | Shake, Strain & Sip·

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s