Grapefruit cocktails an overdue craze

Plenty of cocktail recipes in last week’s A la Carte section should have provided ample New Year’s inspiration. While I love the idea of warm or Champagne-spiked cocktails, the hottest new trend in spirits, according to the Associated Press, is fresh grapefruit juice.

It makes perfect sense considering we’re entering the height of the citrus season. Grapefruit juice is a more complex and sophisticated mixer than orange or lemon juice, writes Washington Post columnist Jason Wilson. He credits the recent release of Finlandia grapefruit-flavored vodka as a contributor to the prominence of grapefruit cocktails on many a specialty drink list.

An ardent fan of grapefruit juice, I hope this is one trend that makes its way west soon. And because I first tasted grapefruit juice in a cocktail almost seven years ago, I have to ask “What took so long?”

Along with an eager student group, I toured the Cointreau distillery in Angers, France, in 2001. The outing happily ended with a complimentary cocktail of the company’s signature triple sec, Passoa and grapefruit juice. The French name of this concoction eluded me, but convinced it was the height of mixology, I brought two mini bottles of the liqueur home so I could replicate it for my parents.

Looking back, I should have purchased a larger bottle of Passoa, the passion-fruit liqueur, because whenever I’ve requested this particular drink, the bartender either lacks the passion-fruit flavor, the grapefruit juice, or both.  

Here’s a cocktail that Wilson calls an elegantly balanced variation on both the Greyhound (vodka and grapefruit juice) and the Salty Dog (gin or vodka and grapefruit juice with a salted rim). It calls for Italy’s unique Punt e Mes vermouth, made by Carpano, whose taste falls somewhere between a traditional red vermouth and a bitter.

Italian Greyhound

Kosher salt, for rimming the glass

3 or 4 ice cubes

2 ounces vermouth, preferably Punt e Mes

2 ounces freshly squeezed grapefruit juice (from 1/2 a large grapefruit)

Rim an old-fashioned glass with some of the salt, then fill with the ice cubes. Add the vermouth and grapefruit juice; stir and serve.

Makes 1 serving.

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