To the many cocktail aficionados reading this, the humble grapefruit might seem like a rudimentary, even boring, piece of fruit. Drinks that tend to garner attention these days contain all kinds of exciting ingredients, like jackfruit, dragonfruit, passion fruit or, my all-time favorite, Ugli fruit. But while the terms ‘exotic’ and ‘esoteric’ have become part of cocktail vernacular, there’s no shame in keeping things simple. Enter the grapefruit.
Known technically as Citrus x paradisi, grapefruit is most likely a cross between the Southeast Asian pummelo and the standard sweet orange. It’s one of the newer fruits on Earth, having been first discovered on the island of Barbados in the mid-18th century. The name comes from the fact that fruit clusters on the tree look somewhat similar to a bunch of grapes. While lemon and lime are our preferred bartending citrus, the grapefruit has leant its own unique charms to a wide variety of wonderful and timeless drinks.
One only has to turn to the Hemingway Daiquiri—an august libation to be sure—to see what a delightful ingredient grapefruit juice can be. While the history of this recipe is far from certain, it’s about as cooling as drinks come and perfect for parties.
Right now, grapefruits are in season, and their color, especially in the highly coveted Ruby Red type, is deep and inviting. While the ruby is a little sweeter and a favorite of bartenders, the yellow variety (also known as white grapefruit) has more acid and can actually work better in balancing out sugary components.
A case in point is the Brown Derby, which was perhaps created at the famous hat-shaped Los Angeles restaurant of the same name. I’m a big fan of the simplicity of this drink, but it can err on the sweet side if made with pink grapefruit juice.
That also goes for a rather unknown but delicious cocktail called the Blinker. The drink was first mentioned in Patrick Gavin Duffy’s 1934 The Official Mixer’s Manual but was resurrected in Ted Haigh’s wonderful Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails. It is another simple and elegant concoction, calling for rye whiskey, grapefruit and either grenadine or, even better, fresh raspberry syrup. Again, use a yellow variety here for balance.
And speaking of easy, a great drink to bust out at a gathering for a lot of people is the Paloma, pretty much the only “cocktail” you’ll find in Mexico. (No, the locals do not drink Margaritas.) In its homeland, this ubiquitous highball is made with a sickeningly sweet grapefruit soda called Squirt. But when made with fresh grapefruit juice and topped with sparkling water, the result is one of the most refreshing drinks you’ll ever try.
Grapefruit also matches beautifully with Aperol, Campari and some bitter Italian amari, as well as almost all spirits, proving that it might actually be the most versatile citrus fruit out there. Now show it some respect and make these drinks!
Contributed by Attaboy INGREDIENTS:
2 oz Scotch
1.5 oz Grapefruit juice
.5 oz Lemon juice
.5 oz Simple syrup (one part sugar, one part water)
3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
1 Egg white
Garnish: Grapefruit twist
Add all the ingredients except the club soda to a shaker and shake without ice. Add ice and shake again. Strain into a tall glass filled with fresh ice and top with club soda. Twist a slice of grapefruit peel over the top of the drink and then discard.