The best table at Pizzeria Ortica is a seat at the bar. Why? Joel Caruso. He’s fun to watch, easy to talk to, and, best of all, he makes his own luscious limoncellos. If he has a stash on hand, and he almost always does, he’ll reach under the bar for his personal takes on the famous elixir, and offer you sips. Like you’re going to say no?
Caruso also has a way with another citrus—grapefruit—and some of the county’s best grapefruit drinks are created behind his bar. In Orange Coast’s February cover story about craft cocktails, we describe the pleasures of his Grapefruit in Bloom, served in a coupe glass that implores you to sip and savor its perfectly balanced blend of gin, amaro, grapefruit liqueur, and splash of elderflower tonic. But the Caruso grapefruit drink I can’t resist is his Hemingway, a twist on the novelist’s favorite Papa Doble, a drink that Papa, known for downing as many as 12 a sitting, said “had no taste of alcohol and felt, as you drank them, the way downhill glacier skiing feels running through powder snow.”
I haven’t done much downhill glacier skiing lately, but I can say with certainty that on evenings when you order Hemingways, it would be merely practical to appoint a designated driver. That, or make the drink at home. You won’t get a luscious limoncello chaser, but you will sleep like a baby.
Joel Caruso’s Hemingway
1½ ounces white rum
¾ ounce Giffard Pamplemousse Rose liqueur
¾ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
Combine ingredients and shake vigorously, then strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with a generous grapefruit twist. Add dash of grapefruit bitters, if desired. And double if you’re thirsty.