The Mainbrace is a lovely, simple sour with a muddy origin story. We first found it in Difford’s Guide, calling for grapefruit juice – but we found other versions, like the recipe in Mr. Boston’s, calling for grape juice instead. Which one was right?
We turned to historical precedence to solve the mystery. A mainbrace, in naval lingo, was a heavy piece of rigging critical to the steering of the ship. Repairing it in an emergency was one of the most difficult jobs the crew could undertake, and after completion it was customary to award the crew with an extra ration of spirits.
Naval history doesn’t have much to say about the presence of grapes on ships, but citrus was a must-have for crews on long voyages, as the Vitamin C they contain was known to prevent scurvy. So we hew to history, and make our Mainbraces with a healthy serving of grapefruit juice.
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a small, chilled cocktail or coupe glass. Garnish with a grapefruit twist.