The Once Forbidden Fruit

Courtesy grongar via flickr
Courtesy grongar via flickr

The Trunk, Leaves, and Flowers of this Tree, very much resemble those of the Orange-tree. The Fruit, when ripe, is something longer and larger than the largest Orange; and exceeds, in the Delicacy of its Taste, the Fruit of every Tree in this or any of our neighbouring Islands. It hath somewhat of the Taste of a Shaddock; but far exceeds that, as well as the best Orange, in its delicious Taste and Flavour. – Reverend Griffith Hughes, The Natural History of Barbados, 1750

Originally known as “the forbidden fruit”, the grapefruit was not discovered until the late 18th century, did not gain much popularity until the 19th century, and was not a booming success for farmers until the 20th century. Botanists believe that the grapefruit, named for how the fruit clusters on the tree, is a cross breeding of the sweet oranges that grew on Barbados with the pomelo (or Shaddock), a citrus fruit native to Indonesia. The grapefruit was fortunate enough to get the best of both the fruits; it has a tart and sweet flavor, either of which can be enhanced by adding the right compliments to it.

The British who first enjoyed grapefruit knew it was delicious. They did not know how amazingly good for you it was. By the late 19th century it was well known that Vitamin C was an important part of sea travel. Grapefruit has more C in it than the oranges, lemons, and limes that sailors typically travelled with. It helps to lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation, cuts down the risk of kidney stones, among other healthy side effects. In Warren Bobrow’s new book, Apothecary Cocktails: Restorative Drinks from Yesterday and Today, grapefruit is mentioned in several cocktails as a hangover helper. It notes in the Sambuca Twist that it is “a powerful wake me up for a stressed out stomach”.

If you start looking through other books for cocktails with grapefruit, you will be hard pressed to find many cocktails with the wonder fruit. Jerry Thomas never mentions it, and Harry Craddock mentions it rarely in The Savoy Cocktail Book. One of the few places he does mention it, the Grapefruit Cocktail (a small punch), calls for grapefruit jelly in the recipe. The variation is the one that uses juice of one and a half grapefruits. When the Dale DeGroff reaches for a grapefruit to juice, he reaches for a marsh grapefruit. It is sweeter than most and seedless. As a mixer it pairs well with the sweetness of rum and the earthiness of tequila. Most people are familiar with the Greyhound, the Salty Dog (a variation on the Greyhound) and the Sea Breeze. But there are many, many more delightful cocktails to explore.

Courtesy Hayden Blackey
Courtesy Hayden Blackey

Hemingway Daiquiri

Chill a cocktail glass. Add all of the ingredients with ice into a shaker and shake well. Strain into the cocktail glass and garnish.

Ernest Hemingway did not mind a cocktail or seven to help relax during warm Caribbean days. He was a fan of the Daiquiri but not of the simple syrup that is added as a sweetener. He was diabetic. To overcome this, he added the Maraschino liqueur and the grapefruit juice. To enjoy it in the way Hemingway was rumored to, double the rum.

The Paloma

  • 60 ml (2 oz) Tequila blanco, such as Dos Lunas
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 88 ml (3 oz) Grapefruit juice
  • 88 ml (3 oz) Club soda
  • Salt
  • Garnish: lime wedge

Run a slice of lime around the rim of a Collins glass and roll it gently in the salt. It should look frosted. Add the Tequila and the lime juice, then add ice. Pour the grapefruit juice and soda over the ice, stir gently and enjoy. You can simplify the recipe by using a grapefruit soda like Squirt or Jarritos.

We like to celebrate Mexican culture with Margaritas. When Mexicans look for a refreshing cocktail, they reach for the tart and cool Paloma!

Navy Grog

  • 30 ml (1 oz) White rum
  • 30 m (1 oz) Dark rum
  • 30 ml (1 oz) Demerara rum, such as El Dorado 8 Yr Old Cask Aged
  • 22 ml (.75 oz) Lime juice
  • 22 ml (.75 oz) White grapefruit juice
  • 30 ml (1 oz) Honey syrup
  • Club soda
  • Garnish: Orange slice and a cherry

Add the rums, juices, and syrup into a shaker over ice and shake well. Pour the mix into a Collins glass filled with ice. Top the cocktail off with the club soda. Add the orange slice and cherry as a garnish.

You may have heard of Navy Grog before, but the recipe may not look familiar. It started as a cocktail that sailors drank in the 18th century, using water, sugar and lime to dilute their rum ration. It was lost, then revived as a tiki cocktail in the 1940’s. Like all good tiki cocktails, Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic both lay a claim to the original recipe, and the recipe has many variations. This is the most commonly found one.

Grapefruit is no longer thought of as a forbidden fruit. It is very welcome in all aspects of life, from a healthy addition to the diet to a tart cocktail mixer to a hangover helper. February is National Grapefruit month, a perfect time to add a little bit of kick to your evening’s festivities. Cheers!