The Whiskey And Grapefruit Juice Cocktail You Need To Say Goodbye To Winter

Two Blinker cocktails with grapefruit slices
Two Blinker cocktails with grapefruit slices - UliAb/Shutterstock

In this welcome variation for Paloma lovers, swapping the tequila for rye whiskey helps transition this bright grapefruit-forward cocktail into the oft-dreary winter months. If you've never met before, allow us to introduce the Blinker: a classic cocktail with a low profile and high vibrancy. The Blinker could be considered a variation of the Whiskey Sour, as it follows a standard sour format: base spirit, sugar, and citrus, plus a small yet crucial dilution from the wet shake.

Proto-Blinkers were made with rye whiskey, grapefruit juice, and grenadine. Call it evolution, or call it "keeping with the times," but nowadays, modern mixologists are swapping the pomegranate-forward syrup for raspberry syrup, yielding a drink with less depth and intensity and a sweeter, brighter profile. Whichever ingredients lineup you prefer, the assembly is the same: The three ingredients get shaken over ice and, like Whiskey Sours, are double-strained before being poured into a chilled coupe glass to serve.

The first recorded recipe for the drink appeared in Patrick Gavin Duffy's "The Official Mixer's Manual" in 1934, and while it broke onto the scene and lasted, it wasn't immediately popular. In his 1940s bartender's handbook "The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks" (via Difford's Guide), David Embury called the Blinker "One of a few cocktails using grapefruit juice. Not particularly good but not too bad." Still, the bevy is not to be overlooked. It's mature, timeless, and avoids being hyper-sweet like many citrusy cocktails. Plus, even with the 100-proof rye, the Blinker is smooth and accessible at 15.13% alcohol by volume (ABV) or 30.26-proof.

Read more: 13 Liquors Your Home Bar Should Have

Blink Away The Cold Weather Blues In Citrusy Style

A Blinker cocktail garnished with a trio of raspberries
A Blinker cocktail garnished with a trio of raspberries - Alexpro9500/Getty Images

The Blinker was brought back to mainstream awareness in 2009 by Ted Haigh's nostalgic libations graveyard guidebook, "Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails." Haigh's recipe altered Patrick Gavin Duffy's version, calling for more rye and introducing the raspberry-grenadine swap. Making flavorful, homemade raspberry-infused simple syrup yourself is a killer way to take your home mixology game to the next level, and you can also use it to make the Clover Club, another vintage cocktail that's been enjoying a 21st-century comeback.

Or, keep the grenadine and add rose water for a sophisticated floral facelift. Lemon syrup would also steer this cocktail more punchy and mature than the red berry flavor. (Sidecar fans, rise up.) On the note of ingredients, opt for freshly squeezed yellow grapefruit juice, which is more tart than that of the sugary pink and red grapefruits (which are the sweetest of them all).

If you can't track down yellow grapefruit in your local produce section, a few drops of grapefruit bitters can help counterbalance the sweetness of pink grapefruit juice. Scrappy's and Fee Brothers both make great versions of the ingredient, available for purchase online, or intrepid home bartenders can make flavorful bitters themselves. Depending on whether you want to steer your Blinker more sweet or more tangy, you could garnish with a raspberry trio skewer, grapefruit twist, or lemon peel after expressing the fruit's oils around the rim of the glass.

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