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With an added kick of flavor from the grapefruit juice, this refreshing take on the margarita is excellent for daytime sipping all summer long. For a bit more sweetness (and a bright color), try ruby-red grapefruit juice.
- 1 quart fresh grapefruit juice
- 2 cups Simply Limeade
- 2 cups white tequila
- 1 cup fresh lime juice
- ¼ cup triple sec
- 5 limes, quartered into wedges
- Finely ground Hawaiian pink salt, for serving (also available at Trader Joe’s)
- Ice, for serving
Mix all liquid ingredients in a large pitcher and chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Taste for flavor, adding more tequila if needed.
Rim your glasses by dampening them with a lime wedge then dipping them in finely ground pink salt. Serve each margarita over ice with a wedge of lime.
This grapefruit margarita is refreshing, a little tart, and slightly sweet. It’s perfect for summer and only takes minutes to make!
Salt and sour flavors join to create the most refreshing and tangy beverage! If you’re a fan of the classic margarita, you’ll enjoy adding grapefruit to the mix.
The key to making the best grapefruit margarita comes down to fresh ingredients and a good-quality tequila. While you can use bottled grapefruit juice, I recommend grabbing a fresh grapefruit on your next trip to grocery store. It’s absolutely worth it!
Ruby red grapefruit margarita
Saddle up and make your way to any self-respecting watering hole these days and a classic margarita -- fresh lime juice, pure agave tequila and orange liqueur -- is only a few shakes away. But there’s something about sipping this sweet-tart icon of summer on a chilly winter afternoon that’s a bit unsettling, like slurping eggnog on the Fourth of July.
All hail the winter margarita, a new family of cocktails that capitalizes on the many tequila-friendly fruits of the season such as grapefruit, blood oranges, guavas, even pomegranates.
“Winter margaritas should be warmer, with more complex layers of flavor than their summer counterparts,” says Tim Staehling, lead bartender at the Hungry Cat. “Slightly bitter citrus fruits like grapefruit work well, but so do sweeter winter fruits, like persimmons, as long as you balance them so they’re not too tart or sweet.”
Finding that sour-sweet equilibrium requires a bit of tinkering. Even with the classic margarita combination, getting it right can be tricky. The key is to add sufficient tanginess to counter the sharpness of the tequila and to keep the sweetness, usually from a liqueur, subtle.
At Border Grill, classic margaritas get a splash of lemon juice to temper the acidity of stateside limes and open up their flavor.
“Mexican limes tend to be less astringent, a little sweeter, than the limes we find here, so we add lemon juice to approximate their flavor,” says Mary Sue Milliken, co-owner of Border Grill in Santa Monica and Las Vegas. “It really brightens up the lime juice and gets the sweet-sour thing going that’s key to a good margarita.”
The zesty lemon-lime combo also perks up softer, sweeter winter citrus fruits, such as the just-in blood oranges featured in Border Grill’s blood orange and jalapeno margarita.
To make a similar version at home, infuse tequila with blood oranges and jalapeno for four to six hours remove chile, then allow the blood oranges to infuse overnight. (The restaurant infuses theirs for more than a week, but the heat steeps into the tequila more quickly when making a smaller batch.)
STRAIN the now-spicy tequila and shake it up with Grand Marnier and blood orange, lemon and lime juices. Serve this fiery winter margarita in a sugar-rimmed glass (run a wedge of lime around rim and dip the glass in sugar), icy cold and straight up. The sugar cuts the heat just enough for the sweet, tangy blood oranges to peek through.
More assertive winter citrus such as grapefruits need less acid than their sweeter orange cousins to stand up to tequila. Taste first, adding lime to bring out the bright citrus flavor without masking the tequila. Tart juice squeezed from ruby red grapefruits benefits from a thimbleful of lime juice sweeter oroblancos and melogolds need a more generous dose.
To make a pretty weekend brunch refresher, combine the pulp and juice from about three of those ruby reds with triple sec (orange liqueur), shake over ice and serve on the rocks in a salt-rimmed glass. It’s an exemplary study in sweet and sour, perfect with huevos rancheros.
When you use tropical fruits in a winter margarita, you may want to add a touch of sweetness without a citrusy edge, so pair them with full-flavored berry liqueurs instead of orange liqueur. Try passion fruit with creme de cassis, guava nectar with raspberry liqueur.
A shot of jammy Chambord brings out the strawberry scent of guava -- and there’s still a touch of lime juice to keep this margarita from being cloying. It’s a seasonal cocktail contradiction, cozy and refreshing at the same time, garnished with a fresh, fragrant guava slice dangling from the sugared rim.
If you’re going to make a fresh, peak-of-season fruit margarita, it’s worth seeking out the pure agave tequilas. For the best flavor, look for tequilas made from 100% blue agave. Less expensive blends (mixtos, labeled simply “tequila”) are made from up to 49% sugarcane and tend to be harsh and one-dimensional.
Blue agave tequila comes in several styles. Young, unaged platas (also known as blancos) have a bright, crisp flavor that cuts through the acidity of tart juices.
“Blancos have bite, so they’re not meant for sipping,” says Ricardo Paripa, lead bartender of Isla Mexican Kitchen and Tequila Bar in Las Vegas. “But in mixed drinks like citrus margaritas, they’re bright and sharp, just what you want.”
Full-flavored winter fruits pair best with more complex reposados (oak-aged between two and 12 months).
According to Staehling, “Reposados are mellower, a little smokier than platas, so they work well with rich winter fruits.”
Earlier this season at the Hungry Cat, Staehling paired an earthy reposado with lime juice and pureed persimmons that were so sweet a liqueur wasn’t necessary. But with persimmon season over so quickly, Staehling is back in the kitchen, cooking up pineapple-scented quince in search of the next reposado-worthy winter margarita.
AND what about the great salt debate? As with the classic margarita, it’s a matter of choice. Depending on the balance of sweet and sour in a cocktail, a mixologist might recommend a salt- or sugar-rimmed glass.
When you’re experimenting, make that part of the equation. Kim Haasarud, cocktail consultant and author of the book “101 Margaritas,” suggests a straightforward taste test: “When in doubt, salt or sugar just half the rim -- that way you can decide as you sip.”
If the idea of a fruity, seductive winter margarita sounds like too much of an indulgence during the spa-focused early months of the new year, Milliken’s favorite home version might fit within those resolutions.
“If you’re a little odd, like we are at my house, put some celery in the juicer,” Milliken recommends. “Add tequila, triple sec, a pinch of sugar, dip the rim in celery salt -- a Celer-ita! It’s really, really good, I promise.”
Grapefruit Basil Margarita Recipe
- 1.5 oz silver tequila
- 1.5 oz fresh grapefruit juice
- 1/2 oz of fresh lime juice
- 1 squeeze of honey or agave – you can also make your own simple syrup if you like. Bonus points for making a basil-infused simple syrup.
- 3-4 basil leaves
- Tear the basil leaves into a shaker.
- Add your grapefruit juice, lime juice, tequila and simple syrup to a cocktail shaker.
- Shake vigorously. You want to break up the basil leaves so shake hard! At least 30 seconds.
- Pour your grapefruit margarita into a glass and garnish with fresh basil.
TIP: If you aren’t a fan of tequila, you can easily swap out the liquor for vodka or gin.
I served this cocktail in a martini glass just for fun. A margarita usually goes into a rocks glass though but rules are meant to be broken right? Feel free to garnish your glass with a lime, a sprig of basil, and even rim the glass with salt or cayenne and salt mix for a bit of a kick. Or try a basil infused sugar. It’s really so fun to mix things up and cocktails make it so easy to do just that.
This recipe is actually REALLY good with vodka even though I’m not a fan of vodka. Grapefruit goes well with most white liquors so swap it out with whatever you prefer! You can also truly enhance the flavor of the grapefruit basil margarita by adding in grapefruit infused vodka which is easy to find. Using infused liquors helps to enhance flavors which can be great if your fruit may not be super ripe.
Best tequila for a grapefruit margarita
Typically we recommend a tequila reposado for a margarita. Reposado means “rested,” meaning that it’s been aged between 2 to 12 months. But in a grapefruit margarita? Surprise! We actually recommend tequila blanco here. Why?
- Tequila blanco has a straightforward flavor that pairs better with the grapefruit. It’s agave forward, with notes of pepper and citrus with a spicy finish.
- Tequila reposado has notes of oak and vanilla: it works better in the Simple Margarita, Grand Marnier Margarita, Pineapple Margarita, Italian Margarita, and more.
Made with tequila and fresh-squeezed juices, this grapefruit margarita on the rocks is a refreshingly easy twist on a classic.
- 1-1/2 ounces tequila blanco
- 1/2 ounce orange liqueur
- 2 ounces freshly squeezed red grapefruit juice
- 1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice,
- 1/2 ounce simple syrup
- Grapefruit slice for garnish
- Combine all ingredients in an ice-filled shaker.
- Shake and strain into a salt-rimmed glass over fresh ice.
- Garnish with a slice of grapefruit.
Note: Nutrition information is estimated and may vary from your actual results.
- 3-4 grapefruit
- ¾ cup tequila
- ¾ cup Cointreau
- ¼ cup lime juice
- 3 cups ice cubes
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
Slice 1 grapefruit into thin wedges for garnishing. Squeeze enough of the remaining 2 to 3 grapefruit to get 3/4 cup juice. Combine the juice, tequila, Cointreau, lime juice and ice cubes in a blender puree until smooth. If desired, rub the rims of 6 cocktail glasses with 1 squeezed grapefruit half, just enough to wet them, and dip into salt to lightly coat. Divide the margarita mixture among the glasses and garnish each with a grapefruit wedge.
- 2 limes
- ¼ cup white sugar
- 1 red grapefruit, halved widthwise
- ¼ cup kosher salt
- 1 cup ice cubes, or as needed
- 4 fluid ounces tequila
- 2 tablespoons simple syrup, or to taste
- 4 fluid ounces club soda
Preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat and lightly oil the grate.
Cut limes in half widthwise. Cut 1 half into 3 wheels.
Pour sugar into a shallow bowl. Dip lime halves, 2 of the lime wheels, and grapefruit into sugar to coat thoroughly.
Place limes and grapefruit cut-side down on the hot grill. Cook, turning lime wheels occasionally, until browned and grill marks form, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet to cool.
Rub remaining lime wheel over the rim of 2 highball glasses. Dip rims in kosher salt. Fill glasses with ice.
Juice grilled lime halves and grapefruit into a small pitcher. Pour in any juices that accumulated on the baking sheet. Stir in tequila and simple syrup. Divide mixture between glasses and top off with club soda. Garnish with grilled lime wheels.
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I have come to the recent conclusion that margaritas are my “happy” drinks.
Wine is my relax-and-feel-just-a-little-bit-classy drink. Beer is my kick-back-with-friends-and-have-a-good-time drink. Bourbon is my sip-and-savor-and-talk-about-real-stuff drink. Scotch is my feel-like-a-grownup(-and-the-peatier-the-better) drink. Piña coladas are my ultra-cheesy-but-gotta-order-one-each-time-I’m-on-a-beach drink. And the list goes on…
I’m convinced it’s nearly impossible to have a well-made margarita sitting in front of you and not have a good time. Maybe it’s due to those cute salted rims that totally remind me of confetti. Maybe it’s due to that brilliant mix of sweet and sour and salty flavors, mixed with tequila. (¡Tequila!) Maybe it’s due to the fact that margaritas almost always mean that chips and salsa are nearby. (Always a good thing.)
Whatever the reason, margaritas just make me happy. And as much as I will truly-madly-deeply love my classic margarita recipe, I still love experimenting regularly with other new flavors. My obsession this winter?
My food-blogging friend, Kathryne, has always sworn that grapefruit is the magical fruit that works well in just about any cocktail. And after putting her theory to the test over this past winter, I think that she’s right. And I must say that I think it pairs exceptionally well with tequila in a good, fresh, homemade margarita.
The ingredients you’ll need to make one for yourself are simple:
- tequila (any kind will do, but most margs are made with blanco)
- orange liqueur (such as Cointreau, which I totally forgot to photograph – oops!)
- agave nectar (to sweeten)
- fresh grapefruit juice (or you can use store-bought juice if fresh ones aren’t in season, see below*)
- fresh lime juice (I don’t drink margaritas without it!)
Just juice the fruit, and stir everything together…
…and then you can either give it a good shake with some ice in a shaker, and/or just serve it over the rocks.
The sweetness is totally up to you on these. I generally prefer my margaritas a little tart, and especially love them so with the flavors of the fresh grapefruit juice. But feel free to just add in more/less agave to taste.
I would just recommend going ahead and juicing enough fruit for at least a double batch, because these guys are tasty, and I’m pretty sure you’re going to want seconds. )
Yes! To make frozen Grapefruit margaritas, put all the ingredients in a blender, and blend until the desired texture is achieved. You will likely need to add more ice.
While traditional margaritas are made with tequila, it can be substituted for other alcohols such as gin or vodka. Take a look at this guide to find the best substitute for every type of tequila.
Yes, feel free to double the recipe to make a pitcher of margaritas! Simply mix the ingredients and store in the fridge until ready to serve.
Salted rims work to balance the bitter taste of tequila or orange liqueur found in most margarita recipes and enhances the sweet and sour notes of the drink. Its inclusion is intentional to the recipe. In fact, the very first margaritas ever made included a salted rim!