It’s citrus season. That time of year when I grab a bag of something orange or yellow or ruby red or green whenever I’m at the store. They’re so appealing and bright and promising when the days are dark and gray.
I’ve been on a grapefruit kick. Cut in half along the equator, scatter with turbinado sugar and broil for a great jolt of flavor in the morning. (But the coffee-grapefruit combo is just awful. I recommend tea.) I combine grapefruit with avocado and blueberries. Or mix up grapefruit with bananas, oranges, apples and toasted pecan. Sometimes I peel the fruit and eat the sections one at a time, letting the juice run down my arms.
Grab a bag – about four to six big ripe grapefruit – set up a large glass bowl, squeeze the juice and pulp out. It’s easy to fish out the seeds – they float to the surface – and then just store that juice and pulp in a quart jar in the refrigerator.
Get all virtuous and have grapefruit juice for breakfast, but save some for later. And then make this cocktail. I had forgotten all about a retro drink called The Salty Dog, a cocktail I used to make back when I was a bartende. Some people love the salty-sweet thing, and some just don’t. I’m definitely in the love camp.
If your only gin memory involves overindulgence and bad results, shake it off. Gin is herbal and complex and it blends beautifully with all sorts of flavors, especially fruits. My favorite gin is Junipero for the heady juniper scent and notes. Hendricks is also marvelous, though less herbal.
And for an extra dose of fun, and the ability to mess around with spices and herbs – just make your own gin. Ian Knauer hits it out of the ballpark yet again. Give it a try. It’s made me start thinking about herbal infusions, and ache for summer and pots of bright fresh herbs outside the back door.
For now, in the winter cold, to welcome the weekend, let’s make cocktails.
The Salty Dog
2 ruby grapefruit
4 oz good gin
Fine sea salt and cayenne, mixed to your personal level of heat
Juice the two grapefruit.
Chill two glasses. Pretty ones.
Moisten the rim of each glass with the lime, then coat the edge of the glass generously with the salt and cayenne.
In the shaker, add 8 oz grapefruit juice, the gin, and the juice of the lime.
Shake well and divide between the glasses, either with the ice, or strained, your choice.