vintage cocktails

Ah, the Forbidden Fruit

Posted on Updated on

Pomelos were prevalent in local markets during the winter. And so, after seeing them in Chinatown groceries over the years, and hearing that they were something like a less-acidic grapefruit, I finally got around to picking up a couple.

V0042686 Pummelo or Pamplemousse (Citrus maxima (Burm.) Merr.): floweLooking much like an overgrown grapefruit, the pomelo is indeed like a milder version of that citrus. A little research on the fruit and its uses turned up that it is native to South Asia (hence its regular appearance in Chinatown), is available in white- and pink-fleshed varieties, has a remarkably thick skin and layer of pith, is also known as the shaddock or pamplemousse – and, that it was the base of Forbidden Fruit, a mysterious, long-vanished liqueur, and a key ingredient of the Dorchester Cocktail.

OK, that part got our attention. Delicious as the pomelo fruit is all on its own, dripping with the taste of honeyed grapefruit, its connection to the Golden Age of cocktails made it even more alluring. The whims of the 20th-century pomelo market probably brought about the demise of Forbidden Fruit liqueur, which was made by the same producer as Chambord, and was even sold in the same globe-shaped, gold-capped bottle. Even London’s Dorchester Hotel is left to wonder what might have been for its signature drink.

Pomelos are still a rarity in most markets, but apparently California growers have been experimenting with the crop. Its emergence in this country dovetails with the craft cocktail movement, and mixologists have set their sights on recreating Forbidden Fruit. Collectors have been seeking old bottle of the commercial product on eBay, hoping to coax out a few remaining drops or vapors to analyze. Cobbling together some of those efforts, we blended a batch by steeping the juice and peels of pink pomelos and blood oranges, plus cardamom, coriander and vanilla bean, in cognac, then straining off the solids and adding orange blossom honey.

The resulting liqueur has am amber color and nectar-like fragrance of early spring blossoms, touched with jasmine, vanilla and honey, tempered by a back note of spice. It’s beautiful to sip on its own, and the classic Dorchester Cocktail, which employs gin, rum and Forbidden Fruit, is a lovely martini variant. Cocktail lovers, take note. Everyone else, just cut into a pomelo to understand this enchanting forbidden fruit. 

Forbidden Fruit LiqueurTry the recipe: Forbidden Fruit Liqueur 

Then try the cocktail:

The Dorchester

2 ounces gin, preferably a London dry

1 ounce rum

1 ounce Forbidden Fruit liqueur

Stir with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass and top with a twist of lemon. 

Grenadine, Take Two

Posted on Updated on


We admit it. Seeding and juicing pomegranates isn’t the most glamorous of kitchen tasks. (Although we were excited to discover the quick Whack-a-Mole method.) So in the service of great cocktails, Brother Dave has been searching for a good grenadine recipe that uses pomegranate juice instead of the fresh pomegranate version posted previously, and comes up with this super simple syrup  from the book Boozehound: On the Trail of the Rare, the Obscure, and the Overrated in Spirits
 
Grenadine
 
3 cups Pom Pomegranate juice
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 ounces lemon juice
zest of 1 orange
 
Siimmer for 45 minutes or so to reduce by about half.
 
That’s it, although Dave adds a little vodka as an additional preservative, since it can take awhile to go through a batch. So really, no need to buy that food coloring-enhanced, preservative-laden grenadine sold in most stores. And hey, think of all the health properties attributed to drinking Pom!
 
The same basic recipe might serve nicely for a syrup using blood oranges, an of-the-moment cocktail ingredient. Meanwhile,  time to have another round of that classic cocktail with grenadine, the Scofflaw.
 

The Scofflaw*

1 1/2 ounces rye

1 ounce dry vermouth

3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice

3/4 ounce real pomegranate grenadine

Shake in an iced cocktail shaker and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

*Scofflaw: a frequenter of speakeasies and general flouter of the National Prohibition Act, a term coined in 1924.

 


A Tax Day Toast

Posted on Updated on

The mental exhaustion involved in getting my taxes filed just under the wire ( as usual) called for a proper cocktail. How better to commemorate the annual occasion than with an Income Tax? The recipe, from Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, is  essentially a Bronx cocktail with the addition of Angostura bitters. Good for the occasion, but this New Yorker prefers her other borough drinks, a Manhattan or, true my borough, a Brooklyn. Shake them up with
rye, darling.


The Income Tax Cocktail

  • 1 ½ ounces gin
  • ¾ ounce dry vermouth
  • ¾ ounce sweet vermouth
  • Juice of ¼ orange (squeezed right into the shaker)
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters

Shake in an iced cocktail shaker and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange wheel.

The Brooklyn Cocktail

  • 2 ounces rye or bourbon
  • ¾ ounce dry vermouth
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • 2 teaspoons maraschino liqueur

Shake in an iced cocktail shaker and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a cocktail cherry.

Bring on the Pomegranates!

Posted on Updated on

Staying with the cocktail theme, a futile search in his area for real grenadine syrup—as recommended for recipes in the excellent Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktailshas prompted brother Dave to try making his own.  Turns out this is not such a difficult thing to do. Timely, too, since the pomegranates at the base of this mixer are abundant in markets right now. Here’s one Grenadine recipe, and a couple ideas for how to use it up.

 

 

The Scofflaw* (from Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails)

1 1/2 ounces rye

1 ounce dry vermouth

3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice

3/4 ounce real pomegranate grenadine

Shake in an iced cocktail shaker and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

*Scofflaw: a frequenter of speakeasies and general flouter of the National Prohibition Act, a term coined in 1924.

 

The Monkey Gland (from Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails)

1 1/2 ounce gin

1 1/2 ounce orange juice (fresh squeezed makes it unimaginably good*)

1 teaspoon real pomegranate grenadine

1 teaspoon absinthe or pastis (Pernod, Herbsaint and Ricard all work.)

Shake vigorously in an iced cocktail shaker and strain into a small cocktail glass.

*So says the book’s author.