We’re nearing the end of our time in California but before we left I had to share with you a bit of the citrus-inspired cocktails we’ve been sipping while here.

First there’s the perfected Whiskey Sour that my dad has been working on ever since they came to Palm Desert and became the proud owners of a booming lemon tree. The branches hang heavy with large fruit so, in order to ease their load, I pluck the biggest lemons and walk a few feet from the trunk into the kitchen. One of these lemons provides more than enough juice for one Sour. This classic cocktail goes down easy when mixed with smokey whiskey and a bit of simple syrup.

The next cocktail comes from the grapefruit tree resting comfortably in between the neighbor’s house and my parent’s. Being from Washington I’m used to seeing trees loaded with apples but for me citrus is only available in the grocery store. I will buy the little oranges with their leaves still attached just to feel more connected to its origin. Now I find myself contemplating leaving my clothes and stuffing my suitcase with all the citrus I’ve picked. The first to get tucked into the case would be the grapefruit. I had little hope for them as I reached to grab one from the tree and felt a tough skin with little give. But as I cut into the bright yellow exterior the inside glowed a soft pink, the juice ran freely and the sweetness overwhelmed. I take it as a sign that I’ve reached adulthood now that I now longer take my grapefruit with sugar covering its entire surface. Or maybe I just needed to have great grapefruit. My next thought was tequila and then the grapefruit margarita was born.

In two short days we’ll be back to the rain and cold and back to driving to the store for my citrus fix but I think I’ve consumed enough vitamin C (and tequila) to keep me satisfied for quite some time.


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Whiskey Sour and Grapefruit Margarita

This is the recipe my dad came up with after trying many variations. He doesn’t use the best whiskey, the sugar in his simple syrup isn’t fully dissolved and he rarely measures and yet, it’s one of the best cocktails I’ve had. Nice work, dad. 

1 part whiskey

1 part simple syrup

1/2 part fresh lemon juice


Combine this all in a martini glass with crushed ice. Garnish with sliced lemon or a twirl of the peel.

My dad thinks they are best served with a good cigar (or a cheap one, he adds).


Grapefruit Margarita

1 part grapefruit juice

1 part tequila

1/2 part Cointreau


Salt the rim of a margarita glass and add the ingredients. Stir and then add ice. Garnish with a thin slice of grapefruit.



45 Responses to “Citrus Cocktails”

  1. Hayley

    Your dad’s comment about the cheap cigar made me laugh and laugh and laugh – are all dads everywhere just the same?! These cocktails look amazing and the images are gorgeous!

  2. Ashley

    Stunning, stunning, stunning! The wood surface, the light in the first photo, ahhh. Love. Now, only if citrus trees grew in Colorado. 🙂

  3. Jenette

    These look amazing. I’m going to have to try them both. I live in Arizona and have a beautiful overflowing lemon tree in the backyard and my mom has a grapfruit tree. I love your comparision to apple trees that you are used to in Washington as I am used to the citrus trees here and have yet to ever see a real apple tree! Thanks for sharing the yummy recipes!

  4. Jenette

    These look amazing! I live in Arizona and have a beautiful overflowing lemon tree in my backyard and my mom has a grapefruit tree. I love your take on seeing apple trees loaded as I am used to seeing the citrus trees loaded where I live and have never seen a tree with apples on it! I’ll be trying out these recipes this weekend, thanks for sharing!

  5. Amy

    My husband’s favorite story of me as a young girl: My grandparents lived in Bakersfield and had a lemon tree (and a pool, and a olive tree, an palm trees…coming from Chicago, it was heaven). When I was 4 or 5, we went out for a visit and as we packed back up, my mom picked up my little personal suitcase to find it was VERY heavy. She hasn’t remembered it being so heavy, so she opened it up to find the entire.thing.filled with lemons. My clothes had been shoved into a cabinet in the room I was staying in. To my little lemon-loving mind (I did, and still do, eat them raw) I had plenty of clothes at home and not NEARLY enough lemons.

  6. Zoe

    You don’t see many people pulling off a food photo with direct sunlight and shade – and you have done it perfectly! Fantastic post.

  7. Jenny Schlo

    My folks recently moved to Napa, when they come back to visit us in Seattle they now bring bags and bags of citrus of all sorts from their yard to give us… oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes… I get to visit them over Easter, I will bring these delicious cocktail recipes with me! Thanks for the ever-wonderful blog 🙂

  8. ruthy @ omeletta

    Beautiful, beautiful photos! I love citrus in the winter more than anything- it reminds me that bright and sunny days are never too far away. And as for citrus with tequila– match made in heaven. Loved this.

  9. Kathryn

    I am counting down the days until we head to California for Easter and this has just made me even more desperate to get on that plane. Simply beautiful.

  10. Denise

    One of the things we love about Palm Springs is the giant grapefruit tree in our friend’s yard. We came home with 3 34 gallon containers full of them yesterday – there will be lots of margaritas in our future! Hope y’all had a wonderful time!

  11. Karen

    I am completely and totally ALL in on citrus, cocktails, and more citrus. I moved from Miami (to the Midwest..sadly, no grapefruit trees) 10 years ago after living there 10 years and still haven’t quite recovered from the shock. Best wishes on your transition. Cheers.

  12. Terran Sims

    Thank you.That whiskey sour is our new favorite cocktail. I love it as does my husband. We have to search for meyer lemons in Virginia at this time of year, but it is worth the search to make this delicious drink.Your father has the perfect recipe!

  13. claudia

    Oh! the grapefruit margaritas! Inspired! I was once gifted with a big bag of grapefruit with the most surprising flavor. I made a simple sorbet, and drizzled good tequila over it. Heaven!

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  15. Hayley

    I adore grapefruit cocktails, so this is right up my alley! I have to ask you where you got that gorgeous mustard yellow plate?!


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