grapefruit cocktail recipe

My lifelong friends and Delta neighbors, the noted caterers and party givers Carl and Amanda Cottingham, discovered this delicious grapefruit juice–based cocktail at Aquitaine, a restaurant in Boston’s South End. When Carl approximated the Saint Cloud in his Greenville kitchen, I vowed to go straight to the source on my next trip north. At the restaurant, the drink is made in a shaker and served straight up with a dusting of lime zest on top. But it also makes a great pitcher drink. The rosemary simple syrup is genius with the grapefruit juice, which has an especially pretty color when squeezed from Ruby Reds.

Ingredients (Serves 8)

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 bunch rosemary sprigs, plus more for garnish
  • 6 cups fresh grapefruit juice, strained and chilled
  • 4 cups vodka, well chilled
  • 1 tablespoon lime zest (optional)

Directions

  1. Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until the sugar is just dissolved. 
  2. Remove from the heat and steep the rosemary sprigs in the syrup. Allow the mixture to cool for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Remove the rosemary, and strain the syrup into a container with a lid. Refrigerate the rosemary syrup until ready to use. I keep it in a Mason jar for up to 1 month.
  3. When ready to make the drink, combine the grapefruit juice and vodka in a tall pitcher. Add the rosemary syrup to taste. For a mixture this large, I usually end up adding 1 cup, but you should start with ¾ cup and taste. Stir in the lime zest, if using, and pour into highball or Collins glasses filled with ice. Garnish with a rosemary sprig.

Recipe excerpted from Julia Reed’s South: Spirited Entertaining and High-Style Fun All Year Long by Julia Reed (Rizzoli New York). Copyright © 2016. Photographs by Paul Costello.

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