Ever since it appeared in the March/April 2008 edition of Imbibe Magazine, We have wanted to make the Edgewood by Greg Best, Holeman & Finch, Atlanta. We’re not sure why we delayed. Perhaps it was because we rarely buy grapefruit, or maybe we were just waiting to get our hands on the right vermouth. In any case, we finally mixed one up and as expected, it’s a decent drink. The ingredients are not so obscure that it would prevent you from tracking them down, and even if you run into trouble with one thing or another, you can always make a few substitutions and still come away with a solid cocktail. We went ahead and made two versions (it was happy hour after all) and both worked nicely.
The Edgewood by Greg Best
1.5 oz dry gin
1 oz grapefruit juice
.5 oz Punt e Mes vermouth
.5 oz Lillet Blanc
pinch of sea salt for garnish
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a pinch of sea salt on the surface of the drink.
Let’s break this down and then go over some variations. First, it’s a gin drink. We used Bombay, but any London Dry gin will work here. Then, there’s the grapefruit. We don’t know why we don’t make more drinks with grapefruit. Every time, it’s a surprise how well the juice works, especially when it’s paired with gin. The spirit’s botanicals seem to bolster everything good about the flavor of the fruit, while the juice itself takes the edge off the spirit and subtracts the evergreen flavors that some people find offensive in gin. It’s a good union.
Next, we have a familiar modifier, Lillet Blanc. We have discussed Lillet before in some wonderful classics like the Corpse Reviver No. 2 and the Vesper, but here it’s augmented by a red vermouth called Punt e Mes. Translated from Italian, the name means point and a half, which refers to either a bump in the stock market which led to the vermouth’s creation, or the equally likely description that the flavor is one part sweet and a half part bitter. If you are an Amaro hound, you probably have a bottle of this. Like all vermouths, the flavor of this one is unique and has a bitter element that puts it halfway between a typical rosso and something stronger like Campari.
The final element not to be overlooked is the sea salt garnish. We have read that salt has been shown to reduce the perception of bitter flavors and that is probably true here, but we really don’t have that much bitterness to worry about. Still, the small addition of salt does help season the cocktail and brings out flavors you might not notice otherwise. It’s by no means a salty drink, but we like the effect it has overall.
We knew we would appreciate this combination of flavors which is why it was worth making another version alongside the first. The real Edgewood (probably named for the residential suburb east of Atlanta), is the somewhat darker drink in the photos. It also has a deeper, more complex flavor that just feels fuller on the tongue. Our impostor variation (let’s call it the Maplewood—a suburb that lies east of St. Paul) came out much lighter. We used ruby grapefruit in both versions, but the Maplewood subs Cocchi Americano for the Lillet, and uses Dolin Rouge in place of Punt e Mes. We figured Dolin might be easier to track down than Punt e Mes, but then we turned around and added Cocchi Americano which isn’t all that easy to find yet. Look, folks, this is what we have available. As far as flavor goes, the Maplewood has a lighter feel that allows more of the grapefruit to peek through which isn’t a bad thing. The salt has the same bridging effect, and like cocktail bitters, you might not know it’s there even though it does transform the flavor somewhat.
Go ahead and experiment with your own combination of sweet and dry modifiers. Lillet isn’t exactly a dry vermouth, but you could try one of those too. It also opens the door for taking this drink in another direction by subbing a liqueur. Pair it with an Amaro, Madeira or sherry—seriously, there’s a lot you can do with this. We are wondering what would happen if we used St-Germain with a bit of Fernet Branca. You never know. . .