Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Sunshine in a Glass: Pompelmocello (Bitter Grapefruit Liqueur)
There are few chronological spans more enjoyable than the one that sits between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Living in the Land of Eternal Summer (a.k.a. Southern California), I've become a bit of an expert when it comes to surviving these sultry months. The most important weapon? A tall, cold glass of . . . well, pretty much anything.
But you see, while almost anything works, not all beverages are made the same. The health nuts lug their canteens of water everywhere they travel; the classicists swear by G&Ts; the old men at Guidi Marcello and hipsters alike swim in a river of Aperol and Campari.
As for myself, I've previously written on this page to champion the delights of a well-made Agua Fresca; for sure, it's always a solid choice.
But at the end of a long day on the beach -- bits of sand still stuck in your hair, your skin ever-so-slowly starting to peel, the heat in your bones -- there are few better options than a chilled glass of homemade Pompelmocello, a bittersweet, grapefruit-flavored Italian liqueur. Surely you've tried Limoncello, right? Well, think of it this way -- if Limoncello is Beach Blanket Bingo Barbie, Pompelmocello is Sophia Loren. Got it?
You won't believe how easy this is to make. Let's get right to it.
Pompelmocello (Bitter Grapefruit Liqueur)
Produces about one liter of liqueur
8 Grapefruit of your choice, with bright, fragrant rinds
1 Cup White Sugar
2 Cups Water
750 ml Vodka (or Everclear)
Start by peeling -- peeling, not zesting, mind you -- eight grapefruits. Zesting won't work because you want to get some of the white, bitter pith into your infusion; the snappy, nubbish attack is a quite appealing aspect (if not entirely the point) of the beverage. If you're really a wimp about that kind of stuff, go ahead and just use the outside zest. You'l be missing out though.
Place the peels and the vodka into a large, non-reactive container (a glass jar is great for this). Set aside, in a dark, cool space, for three weeks.
After three weeks, the peels will have tinted the vodka a soft yellowish-orange color. Admire it in the sun for a spell.
Meanwhile, mix together one cup of Sugar and two cups of cool water until dissolved. This will form a loose simple syrup.
Strain the peels from the vodka, adding the vodka into the simple syrup. Transfer into bottles, and refrigerate (or freeze). That's it!
From here, the uses are endless; I think it's best served (1) after dinner, cool and neat, as a digestivo, or (2) before the meal, with appetizers, mixed with a little club soda (or, if you really have no major plans later, prosecco), a fresh sprig of mint, and lots of crushed ice:
Bright, citrusy, ebullient; a simple wonder. Believe me, your guests will rave about your house-infused libation -- and they'll never guess how easy it was to make. Go for it.
Music: Me'shell Ndegéocello: Bitter