Grapefruit – A Bittersweet Experience

Along with vintage cocktails came a long forgotten cocktail ingredient: the grapefruit. What once was forgotten has now become a solid staple in most bars that serve classic cocktails. So I though it would be time to take a closer look at this powerful fruit.

If you want to make great cocktails, working with fresh fruit should be a no-brainer. And as I found out in last week's article about orange juice, we all should use more juice apart from the usual lemon or lime juice. So I went ahead, squeezed some grapefruit and started mixing.

A bottle of grapefruit juice

Healthy And Fresh

One great thing about grapefruit juice is that it gets better with age. This means you don't have to stand in the kitchen and freshly squeeze grapefruit after grapefruit if you want to make a cocktail. You can prepare a whole batch of juice and use it quickly when needed. Preparing the juice one or two days ahead means less stress and better taste. That's like having your cake and eating it too!

And not only is grapefruit a very healthy fruit, it even can help you lose weight. So what better way to start this celebration to grapefruit than with a quick drink to make you healthy and energized. An easy, home-made grapefruit lemonade (a grapefruitade?) that is perfect on hot days but can be enjoyed all year round.


Grapefruitade

Quick Grapefruit Lemonade

Pour the grapefruit juice and rapsberry syrup into a highball glass filled with ice and stir. Fill up with soda water and stir gently. Garnish with a grapefruit slice if you like.


The rapsberry syrup adds some sweetness and a lovely color. You can substitute it with honey syrup to give this lemonade a nice touch of honey which adds an extra layer of complexity. Of course normal simple syrup will work as well if you want to keep it neutral.

If you like a more bitter taste I recommend trying the above recipe with tonic water instead of soda water. This creates a more mature refreshment and the tonic highlights the grapefruit flavor perfectly.

Old School Grapefruit

The Brown Derby was a chain of restaurants that came to life in the 1920s America and it inspired a cocktail with the same name. This vintage cocktail is simple, tasty and easy to make. The grapefruit doesn't drown in a sea of other ingredients and I think this is a good way to highlight the fruity taste.


Brown Derby Cocktail

Brown Derby

Pour the bourbon, grapefruit juice and syrup into an ice filled cocktail shaker and shake for 10 to 15 seconds. Pour into a pre-chilled coupe glass and garnish with a grapefruit twist.


Although this cocktail contains only three ingredients you can find a multitude of recipes, each with different amounts of bourbon, juice and syrup. I adjusted the usual recipe so there is a bit more grapefruit juice, because I believe this elevates the whole cocktail. Bourbon is still the main component but it doesn't dominate the cocktail. The grapefruit and honey have to be noticeable to make this cocktail great. But they are easily overwhelmed by a strong bourbon, so a bit more juice helps a lot.

Contemporary Grapefruit

While grapefruit are a popular ingredient in vintage cocktails they can also be a great asset for more modern drinks. As I was looking around for ideas to incorporate grapefruit into cocktails, I stumbled upon a recipe for a Margarita with grapefruit and St. Germain. The original recipe creates a cocktail with a lot of juice and I don't think I would call something like that a Margarita. So I took the liberty to make it a bit more sophisticated and balanced.


Margaux Pamplemousse Cocktail

Margaux Pamplemousse

Pour the ingredients into an ice filled cocktail shaker and shake for 15 seconds. Fine strain into a pre-chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a grapefruit zest.

Recipe adapted from the baking bird: St. Germain Grapefruit Margarita


The first thing I did was to choose a new name. It's French now! From the French word for grapefruit and the French version of Margarita. I scaled down the amounts of liqueur and juice, because the focus should be on the tequila. The grapefruit juice however does play a vital role, while the lime juice is used to add more acidity to the whole combination.

All ingredients create a tequila cocktail with subtle hints of flowers and a certain fruityness. Of course this cocktail doesn't need a premium tequila and you will be fine as long as it's a great 100% agave tequila. Partida was the only tequila I had on hand, but the floral notes make it perfect to be accompanied by St. Germain. It is easy for tequila to overpower the other ingredients, so be careful when making this cocktail with an unknown tequila.

The Bitter End

Unlike orange juice you can prepare grapefruit juice well in advance, which is the thing I like most about this awesome fruit. The juice can add a slight bitterness to cocktails which makes it a bit more versatile when it comes to balancing than orange juice. And although I can hardly stand to eat a grapefruit, I like drinking it a lot. So if you haven't tried grapefruit juice in your cocktails, because you dislike the fruit, I hope you change your mind and at least try it.

I had a lot of fun squeezing grapefruit and trying out recipes. This fruit should have a lot more followers and I don't mean Twitter. For my next cocktail party I will definitely use a cocktail with grapefruit juice, since it's easy to prepare and the season for grapefruit is upon us. I hope you too will give grapefruit a chance.


Title image via pixabay.