There’s a lot of local citrus emerging now here in South Louisiana, and one of its best uses is in cocktails. ‘Tis the season, after all! Fresh orange and grapefruit juice are key components in loads of classic and modern cocktails, and the fresher the juice, the better the drink. Marvin J. Allen, the longtime bartender of the Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans argues this very point in his new cocktail book, Magic in a Shaker (Pelican Press, 2014). Here’s my copy — already stuffed full of Post-It Notes bookmarks. And that’s my bar juicer next to it.
Allen writes,“So why are there so few who can create and make great cocktails? First, people fail to realize the importance of using the finest and freshest ingredients.”
Well, then. A fleeting opportunity is before us, my friends. It’s time to create some really memorable cocktails with all that gorgeous fruit now being harvested in backyards and on farms across South Louisiana and in other spots across the country. With access to the grapefruit tree that hangs over my fence (an agreement with my neighbor), I opted first for a Salty Dog, and I turned to Allen’s recipe as a starting point. It’s a timeless drink that combines vodka — or sometimes gin — with grapefruit juice, and it’s served on the rocks in a glass rimmed with salt. Its salt-less counterpart, of course, is the Greyhound. Here’s the fresh fruit still on the tree….and about to be juiced, followed by the recipe.
From Magic in a Shaker, by Marvin J. Allen
Greyhound or Salty Dog
1 ¼ oz. vodka
5 oz. fresh grapefruit juice
Pour vodka and juice over ice a rocks glass. For a Salty Dog, first rim the glass with salt, then build as above.
As for salt, I rimmed my glasses with two of the salts I keep on hand from Red Stick Spice Co., Murray River Flake Salt and Madagascar Vanilla Salt. Owner Anne Milneck said that other good choices for cocktails are black Hawaiian salt, great with milky-chocolate-caramel martinis, and red Hawaiian salt, which looks really pretty with citrus cocktails. Nice salts are a fun way to doozy up your drink.
Now, this post wouldn’t be complete without a mention of that quintessential holiday morning beverage, the Mimosa. It’s required drinking for anyone with an orange tree. I’m in this group – our urban orchard features 3, including this luscious hairy beast — and I’ll be using Allen’s recipe Christmas morning.
Here it is:
¼ oz. orange liqueur (such as Ferrand Dry Curacao)
1 oz. fresh orange juice
5 oz. Champagne or sparkling wine
Pour liqueur and juice into a Champagne flute. Top with sparkling wine. Sip and have a grand time.
This only scratches the surface on the subject of citrus cocktail. Tell me what you think!
What drinks will you make with fresh citrus?