Grapefruit Margarita

While a traditional margarita features lime and orange liqueur, grapefruit juice brings sweetness and tang to your sipper while keeping the citrus profile.

Grapefruit Margarita
Two delicious grapefruit margaritas garnished with a grapefruit wedge.
Simply Recipes / Elana Lepkowski

I’ve been writing about cocktails for a long time, and even after trying a million and one different cocktail combinations there’s a small set of go-to favorites I just can’t leave behind.

I love having solid, standard recipes that I can return to and tweak to match my mood or inclination on any given day. A margarita is one of those drinks, and it’s always in rotation, albeit in different manifestations.

My family recently moved to an area that used to be covered in citrus groves, and many of the yards here are home to some gnarly old citrus trees. We lucked out with two in our backyard. One of them is a grapefruit, and the other, well, we’ve placed our bets on what it will be revealed to be in January, when it starts to change color and the fruit ripens. The grapefruits, though, are already large and plentiful, and they make a lovely addition to a margarita.

The best time to drink this with fresh grapefruit juice is when they’re in season, namely the winter months. But it’s equally delicious sipped under the stars on a warm summer evening.

What’s in a Grapefruit Margarita?

A Grapefruit Margarita is a bit juicer than a standard marg and sports slightly less proof. The grapefruit juice is in addition to the lime juice in this recipe as you still need that zing the lime provides.

You’ll notice, however, that there isn’t any orange liqueur in this recipe, which contributes to this drink being a lower ABV (Grand Marnier is 40% ABV, which is the same as a standard vodka. Leaving it out reduces the overall potency of the drink.) Standard orange liqueur becomes muddled with the addition of grapefruit and leaves the drink feeling unbalanced—if there’s grapefruit in a drink, I want it to shine.

Now, if you try it with your grapefruit and feel like you still want it, or if you got a fresh, but funky tasting (or worse! flavorless!) grapefruit, and you need more depth to your drink, feel free to add 1 ounce of orange liqueur.

Two delicious grapefruit margaritas garnished with a grapefruit wedge.
Simply Recipes / Elana Lepkowski

Pink, Yellow, or Bottled Grapefruit?

You’ll mostly find pink grapefruits at the grocery store, which offer a balanced sweetness with a not-too-tart finish. But check your markets when grapefruits are in season (they’re a late winter fruit, ours in Southern California ripen in March) because you might luck out with some Oro Blanco, which is a cross between a white grapefruit and pomelo. These verities of grapefruit are very sweet and aren’t acidic at all.

If your grocery store is not stocking fresh grapefruit, opt for a 100% unsweetened grapefruit juice, I tested with Knudsen and it worked in place of fresh grapefruit juice. Always taste your juice prior to making this though, as the sweetness and acidity can vary greatly based on type and time of year, as well as bottled versus fresh juice.

Is your cocktail too sweet? Go light on the simple syrup. Are your lips puckering up a bit too much? Increase the sweetness. Do you feel like your drink is tasteless? Go with extra lime and orange liqueur. Also, one medium-sized grapefruit will yield about four ounces of juice, which will serve two for this recipe.

One side note on grapefruit juice. There are certain medications that interact with grapefruit and interfere with how the meds will work. Please consult with your doctor if you are uncertain if you are taking something that may be affected by grapefruit juice.

Shaken v Stirred Margaritas

When preparing this Grapefruit Margarita, you follow the same basic set up as a traditional one. However, there are a couple of basic “rules” within the world of cocktails.

One of the most confusing for people is whether to shake or stir cocktails. There seem to be clear lines of distinction: If it’s all booze then stir, but shake if there’s juice. But then you’ll go to the bar and those rules feel totally arbitrary. (See all those shaken martinis.)

Does one usually shake a margarita? Yes, but it’s not a hard rule. If I’m loath to dirty more accessories to make my drink, and I’m sure you’ve had those nights too, then I just make mine in a glass that can take a vigorous stir. What does that look like? Usually a wide, tall-sided, heavy-bottomed glass. My stirrer of choice is always a chopstick. Hold the glass firmly and vigorously stir for about 20 seconds. Your drink will be ready to enjoy.

Two delicious grapefruit margaritas garnished with a grapefruit wedge.
Simply Recipes / Elana Lepkowski

More Marvelous Margarita Recipes

Juice the grapefruit:

Place a fine mesh strainer over a small bowl or measuring cup. Squeeze the grapefruit over the fine mesh strainer to release all the juice and catch any pulp or seeds. You should have 4 ounces of squeezed grapefruit juice.

Rim cocktail glass with salt:

Pour the salt onto a small plate or bowl. Take your cocktail glasses and rub the rim of it with a grapefruit slice. Dip the glasses into the salt to coat the rim.

Make the cocktail and serve:

In a shaker filled 2/3 with ice, pour in the silver tequila, grapefruit juice, lime juice, and simple syrup. Shake for 20 seconds until chilled, then strain into the prepared glasses. Garnish with a grapefruit slice and serve.