The polar bear is a great tasting party shooter that is hard to resist. It is a simple mix of mint and chocolate, similar to the peppermint patty and the snowball. As shots go, this is one of the better ones and it is a great choice for winter party fun.
You will need just two ingredients to create a polar bear, so it's very easy to mix up. There are many options available for the chocolate and mint liqueurs. Most often, the polar bear is made with white crème de cacao and peppermint schnapps. If you have another favorite in either flavor, go ahead and pour it.
Depending on the schnapps you choose, this can be a pretty light shot. If you want to add a kick to it, there is a variation that adds vodka.
Just Add Vodka
Adding a clear vodka to the polar bear is a nice alternative. It does nothing to change the flavor, so you get that same mint-chocolate taste, it's simply slightly more potent. Whether you use two or three ingredients, keep the pour of each equal and your polar bear will taste great.
To make this drink, shake 1/3-ounce each vodka, crème de cacao, and crème de menthe with ice. Strain into a chilled shot glass.
Chill the Glass
To keep with the arctic theme of this drink, it is only right that your shot glasses are ice-cold.
Before mixing up a round of shots, rinse the glasses with cold water and place them in the coldest part of the freezer. They will be frosty in less than 10 minutes. When you're done with that round, rinse the glasses and put them back in the freezer so they're ready for the next round.
The Mint Liqueur
You can choose to use peppermint schnapps or crème de menthe in a polar bear. Both liqueurs will add the same flavor to the shot.
White crème de menthe will create a clear shot. If you want a green drink, choose green crème de menthe. With either, the polar bear will likely be a little sweeter than it would be if you pour schnapps.
Peppermint schnapps can have a higher alcohol content than crème de menthe and that can really intensify the minty flavor of this drink. Brands like Rumple Minze top off at a whopping 100 proof while others are a gentle 30 proof.
The Chocolate Liqueur
White crème de cacao is typically used in the polar bear, but there are many other chocolate liqueurs available. Unlike the mint, your choice will determine much more than the shot's color and strength.
White crème de cacao is clear—not creamy—and has a nice balance of cocoa flavor.
Dark crème de cacao is similar in color to a dark rum and tends to have a flavor profile more like dark chocolate.
Chocolate liqueurs like Godiva are creamy brown and tend to have more of a milk chocolate taste.
How Strong Is the Polar Bear?
The polar bear can be as strong or as gentle as you like. It all depends on the alcohol content (or proof) of the liqueurs you pour.
For instance, if you use 30-proof options for both liqueurs, the shot mixes up to a relatively mild 11 percent ABV (22 proof). Add vodka or pour 100-proof peppermint schnapps and it remains rather tame at 17 percent ABV (34 proof). On the other hand, if you were to combine 100-proof schnapps and 80-proof vodka, your shot would jump up to 26 percent ABV (52 proof).
To put these number into perspective, none of these drinks is as strong as a straight shot of 80-proof tequila. It's a good, casual party shot but the sweet taste can be deceiving and it's tempting to keep drinking them, which may lead to one too many.