Cocktail of the Day: The Blinker

I was perusing my old cocktail index on The Gumbo Pages’ beverage page and realized that in the Great Cocktail Article Migration of 2009 I missed a few, including this one. Eek! What was I thinking?! Rectification of oversight commences!

This one may be familiar to many of you, but if you’re scratching your head thinking, “Nope, never seen this one before, and grapefruit juice? Ew!” it’s another “forgotten” cocktail that comes to us courtesy of Ted “Dr. Cocktail” Haigh, who first served it to us years ago. The Blinker is the creation of a bartender whose name has escaped into the mists of history, but it was first mentioned in print in 1934 by bartender Patrick Gavin Duffy. (There’s a bit more about it in Doc’s most excellent book, Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails.)

Doc tinkered with the recipe; originally the drink was made with grenadine (and a horrifying amount of it, equal to the grapefruit juice). Raspberry syrup gives it a lovely complexity, especially when considering most commercially-made grenadines. I think it’s a terrific variation.

The thing that made the drink Doc made for us so much better than the first one we made at home was his use of Smucker’s brand raspberry syrup, right from the grocery store, instead of the Torani raspberry syrup we used. Nowadays for prepared syrups I’d generally go with Monin, which would also be good. But man … that Smucker’s stuff had an fabulously fruity, aromatic and intensely jammy quality (unsurprisingly) that really put this drink over the top. Even better was a raspberry syrup from Harry and David, the Fruit of the Month Club folks, which was hands-down the best raspberry syrup I’d ever tasted (and didn’t have the tendency to sink to the bottom of the drink that Smucker’s has). Sadly, the product’s been discontinued.

If you have a really good, homemade pomegranate grenadine or an excellent commercial product like Trader Tiki’s Hibiscus Grenadine, by all means use that if you like. Otherwise, try the Smucker’s, or better still, a homemade raspberry syrup from fresh (or even frozen) raspberries.

Of course, it goes without saying that you should not use bottled grapefruit juice. Freshly-squeezed white grapefruit juice, please. It takes half a minute to cut and squeeze a grapefruit, and it’s eleventy million times better. Also, if you’re one of those folks that doesn’t like grapefruit juice, this may be your conversion moment; you’ll like it here, even if you only ever have it in this cocktail (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

Enjoy the Blinker — it’s a simple yet really lovely drink, and don’t worry about the silly name (drives Doc crazy).

Oh, the image below is temporary, shamelessly purloined briefly borrowed from the fine folks at Modern Drunkard magazine, who in turn lifted it from Ted’s book (naturally, since the article was an interview with Ted about his book). I’ll have one of my own up by the weekend, especially since I haven’t had a Blinker in a while, and I want one.

The Blinker Cocktail
Shamelessly purloin-- er, borrowed image from Modern Drunkard, to be replaced real soon now

2 ounces rye whiskey.
1 ounce fresh grapefruit juice.
1 teaspoon raspberry syrup.

Combine with cracked ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously for no less than 10 seconds, until very cold; strain into a cocktail glass.

Doc didn’t garnish this, and I don’t know if the original recipe called for a garnish, but we like a pretty grapefruit peel curl cut with a channel knife (Doc opts for lemon). Don’t squeeze any grapefruit oil over the drink, though; we don’t want this one to be too bitter.

To quote Wes, “What the world needs is more rye cocktails.” Amen.


2 Responses to “Cocktail of the Day: The Blinker”

  1. dave said:

    Oct 22, 10 at 2:10 pm

    Ah, synchronicity. I’ve been thinking a lot about the Blinker lately and how long it’s been since I’ve enjoyed one. There’s a cocktail grapefruit sitting on my kitchen table. Its fate is sealed.

  2. Chuck said:

    Oct 22, 10 at 4:00 pm

    May we all now take a moment of silence to remember the grapefruit on Dave’s table, who gave itself for the cause of his cocktail enjoyment.


    Okay, squeeze that sucker!