Some people don't like grapefruit because they're too bitter. Some don't like them because they don't get you drunk. Lucky them: This recipe solves both of those problems.
It's Saturday afternoon, you've made it through the long week, and it's time for Happy Hour, Gizmodo's weekly booze column. A cocktail shaker full of innovation, science and alcohol. Let's have a lil' kiss of citrous.
Meet Kathryn. We've been friends since high school and her family is composed of some of the world's awesomest people. This is why I wasn't surprised when she told me of this most excellent tradition they had when she was a kid. Baked Brandied Grapefruit. Around the holidays her family would make this in the morning. Little did then-little-Kathryn know, the grownups were gettin' tanked at Christmas breakfast. Hark the herald angles sing!
The recipe is extremely simple. Grapefruit, a handful of brown sugar and as much brandy as half a grapefruit can hold. Add heat. Voila. What's special about it is how the flavours meld together and what it does to your head. Because science.
As you see in the video, there is a lot of sugar in this recipe. This works on a couple of levels. Level one: The grapefruit is not so bitter anymore. Level two: In addition to masking bitterness, the sugar also masks the taste of alcohol. This is half of why you can't taste the booze. The other half is the heat. More on that later.
Oh, and another thing sugar does (and this is true of all very sweet drinks) is spike your blood-sugar. Not only does this cause a short-term boost in energy, but it will also temporarily postpone the feeling of drunkenness. Why? Because instead of jumping straight to processing the alcohol, your body has to process a heap of sugar, too. When it multitasks it goes slower. That's not to say you won't get drunk. You will. It'll just sneak up on you. Also, when your blood sugar descends to Earth, you might get a headache. Needless to say, diabetics should stay the hell away from this recipe.
Healthy folks, you'll probably be just fine as long as you don't have a several of these. Oh and don't worry, it doesn't taste ridiculously sweet, because the tartness of the grapefruit provides a nice balance. Even people who don't like grapefruit tend to like this recipe.
So, as promised: The other reason you can't taste the booze in this is that drinking alcohol hot also helps to mask it. One of the ways you can tell you're drinking alcohol is that "burning feeling" in your mouth, right? By drinking something that's already hot, it is essentially overwhelming the sensation. If you've ever had a hot toddy you'll remember that you feel the booze at all until after you've swallowed it and breathed. This cools down your mouth and suddenly, WHOA, there it is! At the same time, hot booze may get you drunk a little faster because heat causes the membranes of your mouth to soften (microscopic dilation) and so you get more sublingual absorption. (Any idea how that works, commenters?)
Okay, enough science. Let's drink.
The video should be pretty easy to follow, but here's the fast version.
- Cut grapefruit in half, and segment the... uh... segments.
- Cover with two tablespoons of brown sugar.
- Pour some brandy on top until it's full and let it sit for 30 minutes. Osmosis (Absorption? We're a little drunk here) tastes great.
- Put the grapefruit in a pre-heated 175°C oven for 20 minutes.
- Remove them and add enough sugar to cover.
- Turn your oven to Broil and put the pan in the broiler for about five minutes or until the sugar aramelises.
- Remove from oven. Let it cool a little and enjoy.
With your first bite, the flavour kind of explodes in your mouth... little bursts of grapefruit popping like fireworks around a lake of sweet brandy. It makes you want to curl up by a fire. I would have thought that most of the alcohol would have baked off, but nope! Half a grapefruit and I certainly felt it. If I'd had two I would have been rather giddy. It's tart, warming and delicious.
I'm mad that I didn't know about this until now. Why isn't this at every brunch restaurant in the world? It's not a new recipe. In fact, it's super old. Just check out this article from the Milwaukee Sentinel back in 1948. "Titillate the palate" indeed! Kathryn's folks knew what they were doing. While they were waiting for the brandy to soak into the grapefruit they would make Cream Fizzes. The creaminess of this gin-based cocktail is a perfect complement to the tartness of the grapefruit. Together they're like some sort of alcoholic Creamsickle. Here's that recipe, for your enjoyment.
The Cream Fizz
- 88mL gin
- 1 tablespoon superfine (or powdered) sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 2 teaspoons heavy cream
- 3 or 4 ice cubes
- Soda water
- In a shaker combine everything except the soda water.
- Shake it like a Polaroid picture.
- Strain into a highball glass.
- Add soda water to taste.
Whammo. You've got something tasty and boozy to eat, and you've got something tasty and boozy to drink. Enjoy your weekend, everybody! Check back next Saturday for another episode of Happy Hour.