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2 Great Grapefruit Cocktails For The Perfect Date Night

As obligations in busy lives pile up, finding time and money to set aside for date night becomes difficult. Sometimes a simple night in with light libations and fresh ingredients gives the romance a chance to come to you. 

Grapefruit cocktails add refreshing zest to any evening. The citrus awakens your palate with sip after sip of exciting flavors. 

A glass of grapefruit shandy with a slice of grapefruit on the rim -- one of two delicious grapefruit cocktails you can make at home.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

To me, a perfect evening of drinking begins with a light and lively liquor cocktail. I think of it as the amuse-bouche of beverages, simply meaning it is a flavor-filled starter that gets your taste buds ready to eat more. After that, I love a nice beer or wine with my meal, and ideally, the drinks share a common thread, making the tastes on the tongue delightful and harmonious. 

Start your date night out right with this mouthwateringly delicious grapefruit old-fashioned, followed by dinner paired with a perfectly balanced grapefruit shandy. 

Don`t worry. Both of these cocktails require very few ingredients, so you do NOT need a bar-tenders license to get them right. 

Here`s what you`ll need:

For The Old Fashioned:

  • 4 Oz. Rye 
  • 3 Dashes of Angostura Bitters
  • 1 1/2 tsp of Brown Sugar Simple Syrup (Recipe and substitutions included below) 
  • 2, 1 Inch pieces of Grapefruit peel 
  • A small squeeze of Grapefruit juice in each cup (optional)
  • Ice 

For The Shandy: 

  • 2 cans of Goose Island IPA or a light beer of your choosing
  • 1/2 cup of ginger beer (split between two drinks) 
  • 1/4 of grapefruit`s juice (Divided between two glasses 
Two glasses of grapefruit old-fashioned cocktail.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

The Old-Fashioned Ingredients 

Rye 

Why Rye? 

The most traditional Old-fashioned`s use Rye rather than bourbon. Rye`s spicy, bold flavor, mixed with citrus and sugar, gives a more robust yet still balanced presence to your drink. 

What brand should I buy? 

A lovely Bulleit Rye tastes great with grapefruit,, and all of the other ingredients found in this grapefruit old-fashioned. Any Rye will do the trick, but the flavor of rye or bourbon definitely does not hide behind the other ingredients, so be sure to pick rye that you enjoy on its own. 

Substitutions

Bourbon works as a beautiful substitute, especially if you prefer a sweeter finish for your old-fashioned. 

Hand pouring rye into a glass from a jigger.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

Angostura Bitters

Herbal, citrusy, and delicious Angostura bitters bring balance to the old-fashioned. The bright acidic notes open your palette into joyful consumption. 

Hand pouring bitters into a glass.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

Substitutions

A dash of Campari or another orange, citrus, or herbal flavored liqueurs may be used in place of Angostura Bitters. Use sparingly to avoid masking the other flavors in the drink. 

Brown Sugar Simple Syrup

My little secret to making the old-fashioned even better is this lovely brown sugar simple recipe. To make, simply:

  1. Boil water. 
  2. Pour over a large amount of brown sugar (about equal to the amount of water).
  3. Stir until sugar has dissolved.
  4. Refrigerate and use in all of your fancy drinks. 

Brown sugar adds caramel notes, bringing out the sweeter flavors in the rye, but other sugars may be used if you do not have the time or ingredients for this part of the recipe. 

Hand pouring brown sugar simple syrup from a measuring spoon into a glass.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

Substitutions 

A dash of sugar muddled into the grapefruit`s peel tastes excellent in an old-fashioned then add just a splash of water for the best integration of the sugar into the rest of your drink. 

You may use other simple syrups, agave, or honey in small amounts in place of brown sugar simple syrup. 

Grapefruit Peel

Muddling the grapefruit at the bottom of your glass allows the juices to release subtle grapefruit flavor throughout your cocktail. This flavor gives more of the grapefruit’s essence, rather than the sour punch of grapefruit juice. 

Hands muddling grapefruit peel in the bottom of a glass.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

Substitutions

Lemon, lime, or orange peels may be used for this step, depending on what flavors you prefer. 

Closeup of slices of grapefruit peel in the bottom of two glasses.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

Grapefruit juice (optional) 

Add a small squeeze of grapefruit juice for an extra sour kick on your palette. Traditionally, an old-fashioned relies on the subtle juices of the peel to add extra flavor, but I like to believe there are no strict rules to making a delicious drink. Follow your heart when it comes to flavoring spirited drinks. 

Ice

Ice might be the most necessary ingredient (other than rye) in this cocktail. As the ice melts, water opens up the flavor of the rye. Many whiskey, rye, and scotch drinkers add just a dash of water to their pure libations for this very reason. Ice has the same effect while also keeping your drink cold and refreshing. 

If available, use round or large, square ice cube trays to create optimal ice. The large sphere melts slower and keeps your drink from watering down too quickly.

The Grapefruit Shandy Ingredients

Hands opening a can of Goose Island IPA beer.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

Goose Island IPA

While not 100% necessary to use this brand for your grapefruit shandy, Goose Island`s IPA already incorporates subtle hints of grapefruit into its flavor. The producers of this juicy and flavorful IPA already consider grapefruit a winning pairing with the taste of their hops, grains, and yeast. Why argue with the experts? 

Hand pouring beer into a glass of grapefruit shandy,
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

Substitutions

If you are like me, sometimes, an extra trip to the grocery store weighs heavily on the soul. The opportunity to use a beer I already have in the refrigerator often wins over the long lines of shopping carts. Any lighter beer that will not compete with the sweet and tart notes of the grapefruit will taste great in your shandy. 

As a matter of fact, making shandies is a great way to use up old beers in your fridge, bringing brighter, bolder flavor into an ordinary beer. 

Hands pouring a measuring cup of ginger beer into a glass.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

Ginger Beer

Non-alcoholic ginger beer adds spice and spunk to the grapefruit shandy. The heightening flavor of ginger tastes great with beer and provides other incredible health benefits. 

This means you can call your cocktail healthy, right?

Replacements

Any liquid that adds a fizzy mouthfeel to your drink and pairs well with beer and grapefruit, will give this drink the bubbly sensation necessary for a perfect shandy.  

Hands cutting a grapefruit with a knife.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

Grapefruit Juice 

A squeeze of delicious grapefruit juice makes this shandy refreshing and hard to put down.

Grapefruits help with digestion and provide vitamin A and C, helping the body build up immunity.  

Again, this means you can call your cocktail healthy”¦ right?

Hands holding a cut grapefruit half.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

Substitutions

Orange, lime, lemon juice may be used in place of grapefruit juice to create a similar shandy experience. 

A grapefruit half and grapefruit quarter on a cutting board with pieces of cut grapefruit.
Photo by: Brodie Porterfield

Pairings 

I love eating Bar-B-Que with very citrusy beers and bold ryes. The heavy decadence of pork or other pulled meets typically balances well with light and refreshing beverages like the shandy or the old-fashioned. These delicious Beef Cheddar Sliders would go great with both cocktails.

A perfect date evening would start with brie cheese and pomegranate morels, or this Pomegranate Salad, followed by a pork or meet dish, and topped off with delicious Grapefruit Meringue Pie.

Yum!

Grapefruit Cocktail Date Night

Instead of fussing with reservations and racking up a $40 tab at the bar, bring home a few mixers and a grapefruit for a fun evening of delicious spirit drinking. These grapefruit cocktails are simple to make, with very few ingredients and lots of flavor. 

Not feeling date night? Have a few friends over and drink cheaply but deliciously. 

Cocktail making is an art, but even beginners, dabbling in making tasty creations at home, can prepare these light and refreshing drinks and entertain like a professional bar tender.

So, call all of your friends, and impress them with these simple recipes for grapefruit cocktails. They will be glad you thought of them and sure to enjoy these tasty beverages. 

Pinterest image of grapefruit cocktails.
Photos by: Brodie Porterfield
grapefruit cocktails

Grapefruit Old Fashioned

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

Grapefruit cocktails add refreshing zest to any evening. The citrus awakens your palate with sip after sip of exciting flavors. 

Ingredients

  • 4 Oz. Rye 
  • 3 Dashes of Angostura Bitters
  • 1 1/2 tsp of Brown Sugar Simple Syrup (Recipe and substitutions included below) 
  • 2, 1 Inch pieces of Grapefruit peel 
  • A small squeeze of Grapefruit juice in each cup (optional)
  • Ice

Instructions

  1. Place the grapefruit peels in the bottom of a sturdy highball glass. Press firmly on the grapefruit with a muddler several times, turning it to release the juices.
  2. Add ice, brown sugar simple syrup, Angostura Bitters, a squeeze of grapefruit, and rye to the glass.
  3. Stir gently, serve, and enjoy!
Grapefruit Shandy

Grapefruit Shandy

Yield: 2
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

Grapefruit cocktails add refreshing zest to any evening. The citrus awakens your palate with sip after sip of exciting flavors. 

Ingredients

  • 2 cans of Goose Island IPA or a light beer of your choosing
  • 1/2 cup of ginger beer (split between two drinks) 
  • 1/4 of grapefruit’s juice (Divided between two glasses)

Instructions

  1. Divide 1/4 of a grapefruit's juice between two tall beverage glasses.
  2. Pour 1/2 cup of ginger beer (divided between the two glasses on top of the grapefruit juice.
  3. Pour one can of beer into each glass.
  4. Serve and enjoy!

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