In spite of the objections of my inner child, I love grapefruit season. And not just because of how well it pairs with whiskey and gin. There's something so refreshing about pink citrus in the wintertime — whether you broil it, eat it for breakfast or drink its juice, you're bound to have a better day.
And that's especially true when you add it to your cocktails. This concoction is similar to a Brown Derby with some additional flavors. Despite my love affair with bourbon, I used rye this time around. It's a bit drier and fruitier, while bourbon tends to taste sweeter, smoother and a bit carmel-y.
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 3 tablespoons water
- a pinch of scraped vanilla beans (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract if you're squeamish about black specks in your drinks!)
- 2 ounces rye whiskey
- 3 ounces unsweetened grapefruit juice
- ice cubes
- 5 dashes lavender bitters
- citrus fruit for garnish
- Specialty simple syrups are great, but they require some planning and they don't last forever. If you're making one or two cocktails, follow this quick cheat to create honey-vanilla simple syrup: Add two tablespoons of honey and three tablespoons of water to the bottom of your cocktail glass and heat in the microwave for 15 seconds or so — just enough for the honey to dissolve. Then add the scrapings of the inside of half a vanilla bean, stir and allow to cool. If you're impatient like me, put the glass in the freezer for a few minutes until it's cool to the touch.
- If you're making cocktails for a group, I recommend making a batch of honey simple syrup (Martha's got the recipe here) to simplify the process — just add the two or three vanilla bean pods and their scrapings to the simple syrup while it's warm, then chill before using. You can use two or three tablespoons of this mixture in your cocktail — the amount you'll need will depend upon how sweet your grapefruit juice is. I used freshly squeezed, but I find that most bottled grapefruit juice (even Simply Grapefruit) is on the sweeter side.
- Once you've added the honey-vanilla mixture to your glass, add 2 ounces rye whiskey, 3 ounces unsweetened grapefruit juice and 3-4 ice cubes to the glass, stirring vigorously. Depending on how bitter your juice is and your personal preference, you might add an ounce or two of water to the mixture to dilute the grapefruit flavor.
- Add 5 dashes lavender bitters (I used Scrappy's). Although the lavender flavor is a lovely complement to the vanilla bean and grapefruit, you could also get away with a few dashes of whatever bitters you have in your liquor cabinet instead. Or put on your DIY hat and make your own!
- Garnish with a slice of citrus fruit and half a vanilla bean pod. Cheers!
Photos © Ahmad K. Badr, Text © Theresa Berens, 2015