PASSION FRUIT ADDS A PUNGENT, ACIDIC KICK TO LIBATIONS
story by Kelly Magyarics
Bartenders looking to temper the sweetness or add mouthwatering tartness to cocktails typically add a squeeze of lemon, lime, or grapefruit juice, or craftier options such as shrubs and citric acid. But there is a less-expected ingredient to consider. And it’s not only for tropical tipples.
Passion fruit—the yellow or purple-skinned fruit with the slimy purple seeds—is a zesty secret weapon. Muddled, shaken, infused in a spirit or a syrup, it can lend acidity in a whole new way—it’s angular and pungent, yet not too aggressive to be off-putting or mouth-puckering.
At Trisara Resort—a luxe 39-villa resort on the northwest coast of Phuke, Thailand’s largest island—passion fruit is grown organically on their farm, Pru Jampa. It’s used in various ways, including in libations, at the resort’s three restaurants Seafood, The Deck, and PRU (which recently received the only Michelin star on the island). Bartenders shake passion fruit pulp with other ingredients, creating the perfect combo of sweet and sour, such as in the cocktail, Passionately, where it’s mixed with pisco, Cointreau, lime, vanilla syrup, and vanilla bitters; in The Phuket Greyhound it’s shaken with vodka, Punt e Mes, egg white, lemon, and rosella (a plant related to the hibiscus); it makes the Wondermelon—with vodka, Citronge, and watermelon—simply pop.
At Redbird, a New American restaurant in Los Angeles, bar director Tobin Shea uses Liquid Alchemist Passion Fruit Syrup in the Scotch Bonnet cocktail. The cocktail consists of Glen Grant 12-Year-Old Scotch, Port Charlotte Islay Single Malt, Brovo Spirits Lucky Falernum, passion fruit syrup, grapefruit, and a spicy tincture. “Passionfruit is not as pronounced as citrus. It’s the perfect mix of acid and sugar. The sugar balances the citrus nicely,” Shea says. “I love using it in cocktails whenever I can, it works really nicely with rum, tequila, and mezcal.”
Bar director at Otium in L.A., Chris Amirault, discovered that passion fruit vinegar was being used for pickling vegetables at neighboring Korean restaurant, Baroo. After his discovery he decided to incorporate the vinegar into drinks on his menu. “The flavor was tropical, bright, and effervescent,” he recalls. His Baroo cocktail is a homage to that memory; in it he mixes Woodford Reserve Rye, Aperol, salted cacao, with a passion fruit shrub—made by blending passion fruit syrup with apple cider vinegar. “The vinegar adds a bright, almost bubbling, acidity that lifts the drink.”
Recipe courtesy of The Bar at Trisara Resort, Phuket, Thailand
1 oz. vodka
½ oz. Punt e Mes
⅓ oz. rosella syrup (can substitute hibiscus syrup or simple syrup)
⅓ oz. lemon juice
Seeds from 2 passion fruits
Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker and dry shake to make the egg white frothy. Add ice cubes and shake again, and fine strain into a cocktail glass.
Recipe courtesy of Tobin Shea, Bar Director, Redbird, Los Angeles, CA
1 ½ oz. Glen Grant 12-Year-Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky
¼ oz. Port Charlotte Islay Whisky
½ oz. grapefruit juice
½ oz. Brovo Falernum
½ oz. lime juice
½ oz. Liquid Alchemist Passion Fruit Syrup
3 dashes Scotch Bonnet Tincture (or a spicy, smoky, slighty fruity tincture)
Mint sprig, flower, and grapefruit twist, for garnish
In a Boston Shaker, combine all ingredients except garnishes with a pinch of crushed ice. Shake until ice liquefies. Strain into a chilled, double Old Fashioned glass and top with crushed ice. Garnish with mint, a flower, and a twist of grapefruit.
Kelly Magyarics, DWS, is a wine, spirits, travel and lifestyle writer in the Washington, D.C. area. She can be reached through her website, www.kellymagyarics.com, or on Twitter and Instagram @kmagyarics.