I’ve always liked grapefruit in cocktails. And don’t get me wrong they have a long standing history in drinks, from the garish Salty dog to the timeless Paloma, but it’s always been overshadowed by its other citric cousins.

Grapefruits are a fairly new citrus, they were first described by a Welsh guy named Rev. Griffith Hughes in ‘The natural history of Barbados; 1750’. They were probably introduced to the Caribbean through two foreign ancestors, the Sweet Orange and the Pomelo. The later being another favourite of mine, they are large fruits with loads of pith, they are slightly more subtle than the grapefruit and is my choice of citrus in a Paloma (If I’m feeling wanky)

The most of the Grapefruits we get on our bar are Pink and Ruby varieties which are usually sent to us without disparity. Which is strange because those two varieties are further apart in both taste and appearance than the orange and tangerine.

Grapefruit Varieties have a PH between 3.2 and 4 as opposed to Lemon and lime which are at 2.2 and 2.4 respectively, but what they lack in Citric they make up in absobic and succinic acid.

Now to my point!..

It’s happens way too frequently on the bar where the shaved body of a naked grapefruit gets bowled into the bin and tossed. Not only does it vex the little GP goblin that lives somewhere between the cost price ex.VAT and par level section of my brain, It’s also an incredibly unimaginative use of a product. It’s like only using your Wray and Nephew to clean tables (it can also be used to clean memories). So, here are a few more uses of the Grapefruit;

1) Dehydrated Grapefruit
I distinctly remember having a bartender going on an absolute rampage about the use of ‘dehydrated crap’ used in drinks these days. There is part of me that tends to agree. Without thought or premise, the dehydrated grapefruit can be a lazy man’s time saver. Often seen pegged onto the side of a coupe or thrown idly at its base. At lab we do like our dehydrator, (I once came in to find pine cones in there) and used in the right way it can be a clever ingredient and a pleasing aesthetic feature. To dehydrate Grapefruit we pop them in at 60⁰C for around 20hrs then store them in an airtight container for 3 weeks. We’ve used it in our ‘Industry Oil’ cocktail that pairs olive oil, Guyanese rum and spiced orange.

2) Oleo Saccharum
Thats right, David Wondrich happened, now every other bartender has a ‘Verbena infused kumquat Oleo’ in their itinerary, which is a pity because I think Mr.Wondrich didn’t mean for his revived technique to get wankified (no, auto-correct i will not pay attention to your red squiggle). It just did.It translates from latin as Sugar oil and it works on the premise of the sucrose being more absorbent than the peel, and therefore pulling the oil out of the citrus.A good Oleo can be described as banging. Use the peel of one grapefruit to every 75g sugar, put into a airtight container and leave at room temperature from a day, strain. For a cordial add 5% citric acid.

3) Bitters infusion
Go into any bar with a half decent cocktail list and they will have their in house bitters. It’s an ongoing show of self glorification between bartenders, it show’s the bartenders ability to balance flavours as well as achieve the maximum intensity. Grapefruit works awesomely with rose, I first saw it on a Boots poster for ‘The Scents of Summer’ and it really is. How I’d advise to go about making new bitters, make tinctures and blend. For the grapefruit bit of my bitters I use the peel of two grapefruits a barspoon of dried cornflower, hissop and crushed juniper with 100ml Vodka and let steep over 3 nights. Then strain the mix and add 10ml Rosewater and 8 ml Gentian. Boom.

4) Freeze dried Grapefruit
A quick disclaimer, I haven’t used this technique on a busy bar! But hopefully someone will be able to tweak my findings to make them work for theirs. The advantage of freeze drying as opposed to dehydrating is that dehydrating will evaporate those volatile and hydrophilic compounds, changing and charring the taste making it sweeter and more bitter. Freeze drying pulls moisture out of the air when cooling, making it a lot less violent. To freeze dry stuff, pop some of those sashes of silica gel (I knew there was a use for it!) in the bottom of a kilner and rest a replacement cafetiere filter on top so at no point the fruit which you’ll place of top of the separator and silica touch. Then freeze, my freezer is pretty cold at around -18⁰C, it only takes 2 days. A warmer fridge will take longer. Obviously.

5) Grapefruit Oil
Oil seems to be a thing the kids are putting into cocktails now. It’s a clever way of using the hydrophobic properties of oil to create a two-tone cocktail. Zest 2 grapefruits and leave covered at room temperature for 2 days. Add 30 ml of almond oil and let infuse for, like, forever. After eternity, remove the bits and store in a dark bottle.

There are probably are and will be hundreds of new uses for the humble grapefruit and its hundreds of Citrus cousins. So next time you see that shaved and tired fruit, spare a thought at what it could have been;


{ Created by Lab22. Cardiff }

› 45ml Bacardi Superior
› 20ml Ruby Grapefruit juice
› 10ml Ruby Grapefruit cordial
› 5ml Maraschino
› 3 dash Grapefruit and Rose bitters
› 3 drops of Blood orange oil
› Garnish with burnt Dehydrated Grapefruit