Happy Hour: Grapefruit-Aperol Margarita

I love guests. I love chatting with them, laughing, and cheers-ing, but the truth is I play favorites. My affections can be easily bought with a good food gift. No, I don’t mean something fancy — just something edible like, say, a trunkful of citrus. My mother lives out in the Palm Springs area where there’s a citrus tree every other foot. No, seriously. So, the other day, my mother, being the perfect guest she is, showed up with a literal trunkful of Meyer lemons, ruby red grapefruit, and Cara Cara oranges. She looked like she was holding her own farmer’s market out of her trunk but it was all for me and all for free.

So, I went a little nuts. As in, everything I’ve cooked this week has had some form or multiple forms of citrus. And I promise to share the results before all the amazing winter citrus call it quits. First up was a few rounds of citrus pickled shrimp, which have become my healthy snack of choice this Super Bowl weekend. After that were tins upon tins of Meyer Lemon Icebox Tartlets, which I will post later this month. Finally, I opened the liquor cabinet to drink up the last of them.

I started in on a ruby red grapefruit margarita. As I was measuring and mixing the color of the grapefruit juice made me think of Aperol, which seemed like a perfect fit. Aperol is an aperitif that’s similar to Campari but way less bitter and with a flavor more reminiscent of blood oranges than anything else. I’ve used it in place of Campari in drinks and even for last year’s birthday cocktail.

But back to the margarita at hand: the Aperol added a bright grapefruit color to the drink and smoothed out the flavor wonderfully. So wonderfully, in fact, that, as of this morning, there’s only a handful of citrus left.

Aida Mollenkamp Grapefruit Aperol Margarita Recipe

Grapefruit-Aperol Margarita Recipe

  • Makes: 1 drink
  • Total Time: Less than 5 minutes
  • Hands On Time: Less than 5 minutes


  • For the cinnamon-sugar-salt:
  • Sea Salt
  • Unrefined cane sugar
  • Ground cinnamon
  • 1 lime wedge
  • For the margarita:
  • 3 ounces freshly-squeezed ruby red grapefruit juice
  • 1 ounce 100% agave tequila
  • 1 ounce Grand Marnier
  • 1 ounce freshly-squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce Aperol
  • 1/4 ounce simple syrup or agave nectar
  • Ice


  • For the cinnamon-sugar-salt:

Put a pinch of each salt and sugar on a flat, shallow plate, add a dash of cinnamon and mix to combine. Rub the lime wedge on the outside rim of a rocks glass. Holding the glass at an angle, dip the outside edge of the rim to coat thoroughly with the mixture.

  • For the margarita:

Combine everything in a cocktail shaker, fill halfway with ice, and shake until thoroughly chilled, about 20 seconds. Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass (with the cinnamon-sugar-salt rim, if desired) and serve.

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