This Grapefruit Hibiscus Highball is only tangentially a highball – it’s served in a Collins glass and topped with soda. It doesn’t have whiskey, and adds a few things besides spirit and soda. But, it’s a wonderful combination of bitter and sweet. And oh, so tart, just so the name – what Mom used to say when you became a preteen and got a little sassy – “Don’t start with me.”
Grapefruit by nature has a very delicate balance of bitter, sweet, and sour, so additional elements need to keep all those ratios in place. You want to tone down the bitterness a bit, but leave the complexity. You want to sweeten up the sourness but not so much that the cocktail isn’t tart. And you want that sweetness there to juice up the mouthfeel of the drink and tie the elements all together.
I saw a friend on Instagram had combined grapefruit gin and hibiscus together to make a beautiful drink. I had both those flavors on hand and wanted to put a little tequila in the mix today. As the weather warms up, the way tequila’s saltiness mixes with fruit juices always puts a smile on my face.
I did add a touch of limoncello just to balance out the sweetness of the simple I added. By using hibiscus simple syrup I was able to turn up the color of the cocktail, imparting a vibrant hue, and making taste a little more layered and robust.
For the grapefruit juice, I used some bottle grapefruit juice I’d gotten from Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice Company – freshly squeezed and lightly pasteurized – a good alternative when you don’t feel like making your own fresh juices. The grapefruit tastes tart, bitter and a little sweet, and it’s close to freshly squeezed for me in taste.
I’m in the mood for simpler, summery cocktails lately , and a light fruit cocktail fits the bill for me. It’s not difficult to put together, beautiful in the glass and an easy cocktail to sip whether you’re relaxing on your porch, or settling down to watch a movie at home. And let’s face it, we all need something easy to put together these days.
Don’t Tart With Me – Grapefruit Hibiscus Highball
- 2 oz grapefruit juice
- 1.5 oz tequila blanco
- ½ oz hibiscus simple syrup
- ½ oz limoncelleo
- 10 drops Crude bitters “Pooter” smoke and salt bitters
- Grapefruit soda to top
- Garnish: Lemon thyme fresh grapefruit
- Combine grapefruit juice, tequila, hibiscus simple syrup, limoncello and bitters to a Collins glass and stir to combine. Add ice, top with grapefruit soda and garnish with lemon thyme and fresh grapefruit.