You wouldn’t think grapefruit and bourbon belong together, but after you taste this Bourbon Grapefruit Sipper, you’ll agree. It’s fruit forward, hiding the bourbon in the finish, but you’ll know you had that cocktail once you try to stand up.
Natalie’s Orchid Island Fruit Juice sent me a box of fresh fruit juices to play with and I’m loving not having to squeeze juices. One thing I love about the company – it’s women owned! They create their juices in small batches to maintain freshness and taste. Where they can, they source locally, getting fruit to their processing center quickly for production and reducing their carbon footprint.
The grapefruit and the orange especially are amazing to me – and very close to freshly squeezed juices. They’re also strained, so I don’t have to worry about pieces of pulp in my cocktails like I would with fresh juice.
So let’s talk about grapefruit and bourbon. I find grapefruit an acquired taste. As a child up to a young adult I was not a fan, but one thing about time is that it expands your palate. Over time, I began to relish bitter flavors, especially when combined in ways that balanced the bitter out with sweet or savory notes.
To me, grapefruit is bitter and sour, all at once. It can be an aggressive fruit juice to use, but something about the sourness of it that’s closer to lemon than lime suits bourbon. In addition, that bitterness can tame some of the inherent sweetness of bourbon.
I’m always concerned that whiskey be easily detectable in my cocktails, but in this case, I wanted to showcase more of the sweet-bitter grapefruit flavors and keep bourbon toward the back of the house. I also wanted a cocktail that was a taller pour – one that played more with fruit and citrus juices than heavy liqueur flavors. It’s a summer sipper to convert your tequila and vodka drinkers to bourbon – especially if they are grapefruit lovers.
I did pump up the focus on grapefruit by including Scrappy’s grapefruit bitters, but they’re a necessary addition to the cocktail to tone down the sweetness. The strawberry syrup provided two things – a more vibrant red hue and a tarty sweetness to pair with the grapefruit.
In the end, this is a sweet, fruit-forward cocktail with enough whiskey to get you tipsy after a drink or two. Poured over a collins or tall glass filled with ice, a sprig of sage as the garnish, you’ll wonder why you hadn’t considered this combination before.
If you need another grapefruit cocktail to try, take a peek at my Smoke and Sigh – Grapefruit Mezcal Summer Sipper.
Grapefruit Beaut – Bourbon Grapefruit Sipper
- 3 oz grapefruit juice (I used Natalie's Orchid Island Fruit Juice)
- 1 oz strawberry simple puree
- ½ oz lemon juice (I used Natalie's Orchid Island Fruit Juice)
- 2 oz bourbon
- 12 drops Scrappy’s grapefruit bitters
- Garnish: fresh sage sprig
- Combine grapefruit juice, lemon juice, strawberry simple, bourbon and bitters in a shaking tin and add ice. Shake until the outside of the shaker is painful to hold. Double strain into a Collins glass or tall glass with ice. Garnish with a fresh sage sprig.