Each weekend we try a different cocktail from the many recipes we receive.
This one from Tommy Bahama had previously caught our eye; and when we passed by a bottle of fresh-squeezed red grapefruit juice at our specialty produce store (and February is National Grapefruit Month), we knew it was time to try it.
Tommy Bahama calls this a Grapefruit Basil Martini, but allow us to offer a correction: A Martini is a savory drink, originally just gin and vermouth (here’s the history of the Martini).
You can tweak a Martini recipe while still retaining the savory character of the drink. There are Vodka Martinis, Dirty Martinis, dill martinis and a variety of garnishes, from the classics to the modern (like gherkins or pickled habaneros).
But adding juice and sugar to vodka does not make it a Martini. (Nor would substituting grapefruit juice for the tomato juice create a Grapefruit Bloody Mary, et cetera, et cetera and so forth).
So why do some call anything with vodka a Martini?
Because “Martini” is a familiar name and sells better than other descriptions. We like to keep the record straight (avoid alternative facts, as it were).
RECIPE: GRAPEFRUIT BASIL COCKTAIL
Ingredients Per Drink
2½ parts vodka
1¼ parts fresh red grapefruit juice*
¾ part simple syrup
1 fresh basil leaf
Garnish: fresh basil leaves, grapefruit peel
*You can substitute pink or white juice; but the redder, the better looking the drink.
For The Simple Syrup
You can purchase simple syrup; but it is so easy to make. Why spend $7.00 and up for a bottle?
For other cocktails, you can infuse the simple syrup with whatever flavor you’d like: ginger, habanero, fruit, lavender, rose, vanilla, etc.
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
Optional flavoring: 1 loose cup basil leaves, 2 cups fruit, ¼ cup chopped peeled ginger, etc.
1. MAKE the simple syrup. Combine the ingredients in a saucepan, bring to boil and simmer until the sugar is fully dissolved, stirring frequently. Set aside to cool, 20 minutes or more. Strain out the flavoring and keep in the fridge in a lidded jar. The syrup can be made up to two weeks in advance.
2. PREPARE the cocktail. Muddle a large basil leaf with simple syrup in a mixing glass. Add the remaining ingredients and the ice. Shake well until chilled.
3. STRAIN into a glass and garnish with a fresh basil leaf and or grapefruit peel.
HOW TO MAKE A GRAPEFRUIT PEEL TWIST
This works for any citrus fruit. All you need is a channel peeler.
1. SCRUB the fruit to remove any pesticides. Using the channel peeler, cut a spiral around the top of the fruit, trying to avoid the bitter white pith.
TIP: At this point you can take the peel and rub it along the rim of the glass. This touch of citrus oil on the rim is particularly effective for drinks such as the martini or other less fruity cocktails. Thanks to Two Tarts for this tip.