This time of year you can always count on me having a big pile of grapefruits on my kitchen counter. I decided to sacrifice a few to mix up a batch of these Grapefruit Margaritas recently and it was worth the sacrifice!
I really like grapefruit and tequila together. A cold Paloma cocktail is really all I want on a hot summer day and this grapefruit margarita has similar vibes but has a bit more bite to it.
The key to making it really special is to A) make the grapefruit simple syrup and B) use fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice. Trust me on that one!
Ingredients to make a great Margarita
You can buy any number of margarita mixes these days at store, but you really only need a few ingredients to make a great margarita at home.
- Tequila – Obviously you need tequila to make a good margarita. You could also use mezcal if that’s more your style or if it’s what you have. It will work fine even if it tends to be a little more smokey.
- Fresh lime juice – Yes. No pre-squeezed stuff for cocktails! Get some limes and juice them and you will be in much better shape.
- Salt – I like a coarse salt on my rim for margaritas. You could leave it off of course!
- Fresh grapefruits – While a normal margarita uses lemons, this grapefruit switch is a great one, especially this time of year when grapefruits are perfect.
- Simple Syrup – This adds some sweetness to the cocktail to balance out the booze and the citrus. While you can buy storebought simple syrup, I prefer to make my own and make a grapefruit simple syrup with the peel from a fresh grapefruit.
Can you make a virgin margarita?
Absolutely! These days virgin cocktails are quite popular and I will say that this grapefruit simple syrup along with some good sparkling water (like Topo Chico) and maybe a splash of bitters makes a really delicious and refreshing drink without the booze!
How to Make Grapefruit Simple Syrup
Making any citrus simple syrup is very easy. You add equal parts sugar and water to a pot with the zest of whatever flavor you are going for. Bring it to a simmer, then remove it from the heat and let it steep. DONE.
The only trick to remember is when you are cutting the zest off of the grapefruit (or any citrus), just try to get the outer layer of the citrus. If you cut in too much into the white pith part it can give bitter flavors to your syrup.
Strain out the grapefruit peel and this will be ready to go. You can store it in the fridge for a few weeks without issue.
This is what my simple syrup pot looked like!
On to Margarita time!
Grapefruit Margarita Instructions
These are not rocket science and you should feel free to customize them a bit to your liking. To be honest, I usually like a good 2 ounces of tequila in my margaritas as it balances out the simple syrup, but I wrote the recipe with 1 1/2 ounces for an entry-level margarita. You do you.
Once you have the simple syrup done, my only remaining tip is fresh grapefruit juice! Grapefruits are cheap this time of year and one grapefruit will give you enough juice for probably two margaritas so do the work. It’s worth it!
Shake up the margarita ingredients in a cocktail shaker and then strain each over fresh ice in a glass rimmed with salt and a grapefruit wedge.
The finished grapefruit margaritas are so refreshing. They go down smooth but have a nice citrusy punch to them.
I believe these will be the drink of the month at house Macheesmo!
Alternative ideas for these Grapefruit Margaritas
Cocktails tend to be very flexible and I would encourage you to experiment with these.
- Tequila substitutions – While I like a blanco tequila with my margaritas, you could use a tequila reposado or a mezcal for a different twist. I wouldn’t use your best tequila for these margaritas. There’s enough other stuff going on.
- Sweeteners – I like this grapefruit simple syrup for this version but you could use agave nectar or honey to add to your margarita mixture.
- Make it spicy! – Add some fresh jalapenos to the shaker as you shake up the cocktail for a spicy version of this cocktail.
When you have your cocktail made, serve it up along with some chips and salsa for a great happy hour with a seasonal grapefruit twist!
Grapefruit Simple Syrup:
- 1 grapefruit, zest only
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 ½ ounces tequila
- 1 ounce grapefruit simple syrup
- 3 ounces fresh grapefruit juice
- Squeeze of fresh lime juice
- Coarse salt for rim
- For simple syrup, use a pairing knife to cut off the zest layer of a grapefruit. Try not to get too much of the white pith part. Just the brightly colored layer is what you want. Add that to a small pot with sugar and water and bring to a simmer. Stir to dissolve sugar, then remove from heat and let steep for 10-15 minutes.Simple syrup will keep in the fridge for two weeks.
- TO make a margarita, run a lime around the edge of a glass and dip it in coarse salt. Then fill with ice. In a cocktail shaker add ice, tequila, grapefruit simple syrup, grapefruit juice (fresh squeezed is nice if you have the time), and a squeeze of lime. Shake well and strain into salted glass. Serve garnished with a zest section of grapefruit and a fresh lime wedge.