BARTOW, Fla. – In a new movement to bring local flavor to cocktails in Central Florida, fresh-squeezed Florida Grapefruit becomes a star ingredient.
Driven by the popularity of the farm-to-table concept – which highlights the importance of local ingredients – a Lakeland restaurant kicked off a similar program this month featuring locally-inspired cocktails.
The first cocktail of the Farm-to-Glass campaign at Frescos is a salty dog made with fresh Florida Grapefruit and gin distilled in St. Augustine.
To help launch the new cocktail, the owners of Frescos tapped David Steele, director of public relations at the Florida Department of Citrus, to be featured in advertisements for the campaign.
“Polk County has long been the epicenter of the Florida Citrus industry and we wanted to capitalize on the connections in our own backyard – truly making this a local program,” said Tim Calhoon, owner of Frescos.
Now at season’s peak, Florida Grapefruit is known for its sweet taste, thanks to time spent growing in Florida’s sub-tropical climate. It is primarily grown in the Indian River region, which stretches 200 miles along the East Coast of the state from Daytona to West Palm Beach.
Steele praised Calhoon for leveraging a regional treasure: “Frescos is supporting the state’s flagship agricultural industry – Florida Citrus – and providing patrons with a tasty option for the palette. It’s a win-win.”
Long a staple bar ingredient, grapefruit has enjoyed resurgence as of late with bartenders using it to create specialty craft cocktails. The farm-to-glass concept pushes that one step further.
“The whole movement is about the idea of bringing something different to the menu,” Calhoon said. “We started with Florida Grapefruit because it’s local and exciting.”
Calhoon first learned of the farm-to-glass concept from Florida’s St. Augustine Distillery, which offers classes on which fresh ingredients pair well with the company’s spirits. The distillery produces small batch spirits using locally-produced sugar cane and citrus.
Frescos plans to roll out several farm-to-glass cocktails throughout the year based on season, including one featuring Florida Oranges.