Forbidden Fruit is one of those obscure, legendary liqueurs that you occasionally hear whispered about.  For me, it was the bottle.  Innocently enough, I was indulging in my love of black and white film, watching Cecil B. DeMille’s “Why Change Your Wife?” when I saw it – that beautiful Chambord-style bottle emblazoned with the name Forbidden Fruit.  Immediately I was struck with a desire to sample it, to feel that illicit pleasure of a temptress stealing a man from his loving wife.  Alas, a quick search proved that such a sample was not to be had.  I left it alone for 6 months, though I encountered the liqueur a few times in fantastically named cocktail recipes (I get a lot of entertainment from looking up cocktails with defunct ingredients on CocktailDB).  Then, whim struck again, and I did a little more research.  And, lo! a recipe posted online!  And someone else made it too!

Of course I had to make this so-called ‘Taboo Liqueur’.*  After several hours of labor and delightful smells wafting from the kitchen, I bottled it up for a week, then spent another hour or so straining, then bottled it up for another 3 weeks.  In the end, I was disappointed.  Mind you, I like grapefruit.  I like honey and brandy too.  Sounds like a fantastic combination.  But the recipe came out sour, bitter, and the component flavors wholly uncooperative.  Partly due to forgetting to add 1 c vodka (or another 1 c brandy), but I don’t think that would wholly fix the problem – just cut it.

So, in the face of less than promising results, I followed the usual routine – ignore it for a week or two, maybe mixing a drink here or there (it mixed fine at least), and come back to it after I’ve done a few other things.  Meanwhile, I was intrigued by the starfruits in the grocery store and decided to use up the remaining skinless half pummelo in my fridge.  I figured the Taboo approach was good, so I tossed the following together:

  • 1 starfruit, sliced
  • flesh of 1/2 pummelo, skin between sections removed
  • 1/6 c honey
  • 1/6 c agave nectar
  • 1/6 c water
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 oz brandy (Remy Martin VSOP)

I heated the non-alcoholic ingredients, simmered them about 5 minutes, then added the brandy after it cooled.  I then matured the whole mess for close to two weeks, strained, and voila! a clean, slightly bitter, slightly sweet citrusy liqueur.  Less combative than the Taboo blend, and much more pleasant to drink straight.

During all this waiting, my disappointment lashed out one day, and I jumped online to look for bottles of Forbidden Fruit (to determine the proper color of the liqueur).  And what do I find, but some nice Canadian selling antique glassware on eBay!  Including of course, an old Forbidden Fruit bottle.  After a week of agonizing, and the bottle still up after an auction expired, I notice the “make an offer” button.  And so I did.  For $15, including shipping, that old 375 ml bottle is mine.  And it turns out I got a steal for that $15, as the owner never rinsed out the bottle!  Struggling to open a bottle sealed shut by liquor, sugar, and close to 4 decades, it hisses as it yields, and the cap comes off to release an amazing odor.  Immediately I have the bottle upside down to a cup, agonizing as it makes its molasses-in-January way down the sides of the bottle, while I analyze the odors wafting from the cap.  The few drops in the bottle were clear enough that I didn’t even notice them until I went to clean the sticker remnants off the outside, but the liquid is a faintly yellowed clear syrup.  It tastes bitter and citrusy on the tip of the tongue, but has a honeyed finish.  The brandy is mellow enough to tie the two together well, adding just a hint of spice to the blend.  The liqueur is, above all, subtle.  Not overly sweet, bitter enough to add interest in a cocktail, perfectly balanced.

And surprisingly, closer to my spur-of-the-moment starfruit concoction than Taboo.  I am eager to hunt down another pummelo and start afresh.  The last few drops of Forbidden Fruit are being carefully preserved for future reference and delight.  This will be a joyous (and agonizing) quest.

*  My version of the Taboo Liqueur recipe:

  • peel of 2 pummelos, sliced thinly, as little pith as possible
  • juice of 1 pummelo
  • peel of 1 blood orange, sliced thinly, as little pith as possible
  • juice of 3 blood oranges
  • peel of 1 lemon, sliced thinly, as little pith as possible
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 c honey
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 c brandy (Remy Martin VS)

Heat all ingredients except alcohol together, simmer for 10-12 minutes