The Friday Tipple: The Wolfhound

Holy Mozart, Boozers. It’s the great composer’s 256th birthday and it got us to wondering what kind of cocktail that celebrated imbiber might have enjoyed on his special day. Except, of course, that cocktails were invented long after Mozart’s death, but the well-traveled musician must surely have been introduced to spirits such as vodka and gin, and most certainly tipped a glass or two of grappa with his friend Salieri.

In the days of Amadeus, a refreshing treat would have been the earliest version of carbonated soda — created by adding a pinch of common baking soda to lemonade. This fizzy delight piqued our interest and seemed like a perfect historical base for a modern cocktail. Now that it is late winter, the produce aisles at the grocery stores are piled high with seasonal ruby red grapefruit; we think Wolfgang would have loved the exotic color and sweetly tart flavor, as complex as his Piano Sonata No. 13.

The grapefruit juice naturally led us to the addition of vodka, a cocktail traditionally known as a Greyhound, but that sprinkling of bicarbonate of soda gives it an unexpected edge: say “Wilkommen” to the Wolfhound. Salty, sour, sweet, seductively simple — a veritable symphony of taste sensations. Prost!

The Wolfhound

The addition of baking soda gives this cocktail a slightly salty flavor — and perhaps even soothes a hangover before it has begun. Be careful to add just a small amount or the drink will begin to take on a bit of an Alka-Seltzer quality. If you are not a fan of vodka, don’t despair: this drink is wonderful with gin as well, which pairs perfectly with the grapefruit.

1/2 cup freshly-squeezed ruby red grapefruit juice (about 1 whole grapefruit)

2 ounces vodka (we love Boyd & Blair, which is local to our area, but Square One and Twenty 2 are also terrific American-made vodkas)

scant 1/2 teaspoon light agave nectar

a large pinch of baking soda (no more than 1/4 teaspoon)

Put the grapefruit juice, vodka (or gin if you prefer), and agave nectar in a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a glass and quickly stir in the baking soda until it dissolves and the liquid begins to foam. Enjoy immediately.