Underhill Forbidden Fruit

Underhill Forbidden Fruit Liqueur

Peel from 1 Marsh Ruby Grapefruit
Peel from 1 Cocktail Grapefruit*
Peel from 4 small Blood Oranges (golf ball size)
1 Tablespoon Cardamom Pods, crushed
1 Tablespoon Coriander Seeds, crushed
3/4 bottle Vodka
1/2 bottle Brandy
1/2 pound Orange Flower Honey
1/2 teaspoon natural vanilla extract

Steep peels with spices in vodka and brandy for 2 weeks. Strain out solids and add 1/2 pound Orange Flower Honey and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Shake to combine. Let stand another week and rack off clear liquid from settled solids. Makes about 750ml.

As the Pomelo and honey based Forbidden Fruit is a truly lost ingredient, I have no choice but to attempt to make it myself.  Fortunately, there’s only about 1 cocktail in the whole world which calls for it.  Unfortunately, that cocktail starts with “T”, so I needed to get busy and make some Forbidden Fruit analog tout de suite.

I missed Pomelo season by a week or two, so am using blood oranges and a couple kinds of Grapefruit. I forgot to buy a vanilla pod, so used natural vanilla extract instead.

As a first (second, actually) try this isn’t bad, the sweetness about on par with Cointreau. I think in the future, I would leave out the ginger. It was a last minute impulse add. Initially it was all heat, but as the heat fades, it evolves into a menthol/camphor flavor which I am currently considering a flaw. A tad bitter, I may have over steeped the peels, or gotten too much pith when I peeled. It will be interesting to see how it evolves, as most orange liqueurs are aged significantly before being bottled.

*”Cocktail Grapefruit are exceptionally sweet and juicy. They are not actually a true grapefruit, but a cross between a Frua Mandarin and a Pummelo. This variety has a similar flavor to a grapefruit but is sweeter and less acidic. Cocktail Grapefruits are grown in the Central Valley of California and they are hand picked for the best quality.”

11 thoughts on “Underhill Forbidden Fruit

  1. I actually was lucky enough to get a few drops of the real thing in an old bottle I bought. It’s actually surprisingly light and bitter, and not spiced at all. The closest I have gotten so far is the following:
    Macerate the flesh of 1 starfruit & half of a pummelo in 2:1 vodka:brandy blend for about two weeks. Strain and add honey (and, if desired, agave nectar at 1:1) to reach a liquor:sweetener ratio of about 3:1. It should be a light golden color with the consistency of a thick syrup.

    While starfruit is not actually an ingredient, its flavor is mild and provides a quick fix on the correct bitterness, without having to guess using the pummelo peel. I am currently working on a more accurate recipe, but it takes awhile.

    • Cool!

      The question I always have about “natural” liqueurs based on vintage samples is how far they have evolved from their freshly opened state.

      For example, I’ve recently been mixing with a Swedish Punsch that I made a year and a half ago, and think it is better now than when I just made it. Nocino is another example. I have one that is 5 years old, which I still think gets better every year.

      But some liqueurs, especially those whose balance relies on natural bitterness, fruit, or floral flavors, may not benefit from aging. Especially natural floral flavor. I can tell you the bottle of St. Germain which I’ve had on my shelf is not better today than it was when I purchased it nor is the R&W Violette Liqueur.

      Thus I think it is very difficult to speculate on the flavor profile of vintage products based on decades old samples.

      • I agree – I have been a little concerned about how much flavor this has lost. I suspect there was originally a lot more fruit flavor from both the brandy and the pummelo, which is difficult to taste in the few drops I have left. However, I believe any honey, vanilla or spice notes would have survived longer than the fruit, which is why I say it didn’t have any spices in it, just honey, fruit, and liquor. Even at 40-some years old, I found this small sample much more compelling than any recipes I’ve found to date though, which means that even an approximation based on an old liqueur is well worth the effort.

  2. Sounds a little like another lost ingredient, Five Fruits, which actually has a lot of use in some cocktail books. There’s a recipe for homemade 5 Fruits out there but there’s no mention of how close it was attempting to be to the original (versus same name, different spirit)

    • There are a bunch of recipes for Forbidden Fruit in various homemade liqueur books. None of them have ever seemed particularly compelling to me, especially given the context of the other recipes they are included with: various horrible sounding methods of reproducing homemade Kahlua and butterscotch schnapps. I shall have to investigate “Five Fruits”.

  3. You Californians have such great ingredients! Pomelo, cocktail grapefruit—I’ve never encountered these things in Minnesota, who knew? I’m intrigued by how you settled on this base recipe—did you find a description of the flavors and go from there?

    • The description from cocktaildb said it was a pomelo and honey liqueur.

      I was working from my experience making limoncello and other citrus based liqueurs.

      After Anna’s comments above, I think the spices were probably a mistake.

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  6. This may just be a coincidence but I’ve had a hunch that the Tantalus Cocktail was named for the mountain range of the same name on the island of O’ahu—where pomelo trees grow quite frequently. In Hawai’i we call pomelo “Jabong” or “bulook” and I think the variety is quite different from the ones found on the Mainland. It is much more bitter and there is far less fruit inside a very thick rind, totally unlike grapefruit and cocktail grapefruit. It doesn’t have the sweetness of starfruit either (at least the starfruit that I know of that grows in Hawai’i).

    I just won a full pint of the old formula FF on eBay so soon I’ll be in the tasting club too… and noting that the flavor may have dissipated with age.

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