Gin pomelo is probably the most popular cocktail in the Philippines. So popular a local band even turned it into an infamous song with the same title. But do we know its origin?
Gin was believed to be originally an herbal medicine due to its key ingredient, juniper berries. Then, it evolved to a distilled spirit in the early 17th century which gave the British, the gin craze. The Brits loved it so much they bought it with them when they reached the Philippine shores in the mid-1700s. It then became a preferred drink among Spanish settlers and the Filipino elite.
In 1834, the first gin distillery opened in Quiapo, Manila. Gin soon became the sought-after spirit by the Filipinos. Today, the Philippines is the world’s largest gin market.
The gin pomelo whim in the Philippines started in the ’90s when pomelo became a readily available powdered juice. Yet, a version of this concoction was mentioned by Harry Craddock in the Savoy Cocktail Book of 1930. “A variation of the Grapefruit Cocktail…” consists of nothing but gin, grapefruit juice, and ice, sugar to taste.
Grapefruit, once called “the forbidden fruit” is a hybrid mix of sweet orange and pomelo.
Harper’s magazine in 1945 also mentioned a similar drink, “The cocktails were made of gin/vodka, sugar, and canned grapefruit juice — a greyhound. This cocktail was served at Greyhound’s popular restaurant chain that was located at bus terminals, called ‘Post House’.”
Another variety cocktail of gin/vodka and grapefruit juice served in a highball glass with a salted rim called the salty dog.
Pre-second world war, gin was the king. Yet after 1945, vodka gained popularity as a base substitute for cocktails. Salted or sugared cocktail rims also grew in popularity for the more appealing taste. ”Classic cocktails” of today are made with vodka, nevertheless, are historically gin drinks. And gin pomelo would always be a gin cocktail.
Classic Gin Pomelo Recipe
1 pack 1 liter pomelo powdered juice
1 bottle gin bilog
Mix 750 ml water with pomelo powdered juice and 250 ml gin in a pitcher. Add ice in a glass, then pour in the mixture. Lemon/lime slice for garnish, optional.