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Royal jelly is produced by honeybees and fed to larvae to turn them into queen bees—in fact, queen bees eat only royal jelly (it's also fed to worker bees, but only for the first three days of their lives). Or, as Justin Arnett-Graham of D.O.C. Wine Bar puts it, "It makes you the baddest version of yourself that you can be."
Arnett-Graham, challenged by Rachel Rodeghiero of the Trenchermen to create a cocktail with royal jelly, had never tried it before. He describes the jelly, which is often taken as a health supplement, as bitter, astringent, and tongue-coating, with just a hint of sweetness. "I'm not the biggest fan." But since eating it, he jokes, "I've run faster and longer, and I feel like my skin is more radiant than ever."
Royal jelly has to stay cold to dissolve, Arnett-Graham explains, so a hot cocktail was out of the question: "It would just be a clump of royal jelly." He tried it in a spin on a margarita with egg white and a mesquite-smoked ice cube, but the royal jelly got lost in the smoky flavor.
"After tasting it more times than I wanted," Arnett-Graham says, "I figured that the herbaceousness of gin mixed with the toasty notes of port and citrus components of Cointreau would work really well with the bitterness of grapefruit." How the flavor of the royal jelly fit into the drink was difficult to describe, but it didn't disappear the way it did in the cocktail with egg white.
"I'm a big fan of this cocktail," Arnett-Graham says. "Not the biggest fan of royal jelly."
Arnett-Graham has challenged Alex Gara of the Charlatan to make a cocktail with durian, the famously smelly fruit popular in Asia.
Seventh and Royale
2 slices grapefruit
.5 oz Cointreau
2 oz Bombay Dry Gin
1 oz tawny port
.25 oz royal jelly
Mesquite-smoked ice cube
Grapefruit swath (for garnish)
Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice, shake vigorously, and strain over a mesquite-smoked ice cube. Finish with grapefruit swath.