Pamplemousse Royale: Grapefruit Champagne Cocktail

Friday, March 30, 2012


As mentioned in the previous post, we wanted to make good use of the box of grapefruits we received from my husband's parents. As a result, for this Friday's Happy Hour we decided to make a champagne cocktail of sorts. Fascinated as we are by extraction ever since our gløgg recipe was a raving success (at least in our household), we decided to combine a bubbly with our own makeshift grapefruit liqueur.

Pamplemousse means grapefruit in French. We wanted to make something similar to a kir royale, but with a grapefruit liqueur instead of crème de cassis, which we made using grapefruit rind extracted in vodka with the added sweetness of agave syrup. As the idea for this drink was simmering in my mind, I fully employed my husband's knowledge of chemistry to work his magic in order to obtain the essence of grapefruit flavor. He did not disappoint. The flavor is fresh, infused with citrus and the requisite bitterness of grapefruit. As with kir royale, we added a little of this "liqueur" on the bottom before filling the rest of the glass with rosé sparkling wine.


I'm always hesitant to use champagne unless there is something worthwhile to celebrate. On the other hand prosecco, which is an Italian sparkling wine, and ranges from a mild fizziness to matching that of actual champagne (for trademark reasons, the word champagne is now exclusively reserved of sparkling wines of the Champagne region) is a favorite around here. But tonight we decided to try an Argentinian sparkling rosé, somehow approriately named "Curioso."


The fresh flavor of the sparkling rosé together with a juicy ruby red grapefruit seemed fitting.


Extraction is a technique long used by natural products chemists to separate interesting molecules from bulk organic matter. You can also use the process at home for more practical matters, like making a cup of tea, or preparing the grapefruit-infused cocktail we describe here. Extraction and alcohol go hand-in-hand, since the alcohol readily absorbs all the good natural oils that give many spices and fruits their flavor and aroma. In this recipe, you can use the grapefruit liqueur to flavor champagne, prosecco, or sparking wine.


Pamplemousse Royale

You will need:
1 bottle pink bubbly
Red grapefruit
3 oz vodka
1 oz agave syrup

1. To prepare the liqueur: Remove the peel from the grapefruit. With a sharp knife, carefully slice off and discard the white layer, saving only the outer rind. Slice the rind into short and narrow strips, and place these in a large measuring cup. Add the vodka, and muddle thoroughly with a wooden pestle. For best results, let the mixture stand for 5-10 minutes. Decant (pour off) the liquid into another cup and then add the agave syrup. (Adjust the amount of agave syrup to account for the sweetness of the grapefruit.) Stir well, and cover until ready to use.
2. To prepare the drink: Pour a small amount of liqueur into an appropriate glass. Fill the remainder with pink bubbly. Cheers.


  1. Grapefruit oils are certainly interesting molecules!
    But I'm actually most interested in the prosecco--we like Argentinian Malbecs, but I've never seen a sparkling rose. I'll have to keep a eye out, because I'd definitely like to try one.

  2. This looks lovely!
    Also, pamplemousse is my favorite french word, so this sounds like a double win :)

  3. Oooh, grapefruit liquor sounds heavenly! I've done fruit-infused vodkas before, but not like this.

    Also - I wanted to let you know that I just nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award!
    Check out my post to see the rules:

  4. When preparing the grapefruit extract, did you use any of the juice of the grapefruit? The recipe appears to extract the oils from the peel, but not the flavor of the fruit. I am asking because I love grapefruit and am thinking of making this sweetened only by the juice.

  5. Deborah, no juice was used in this recipe. The idea was to make a liqueur from the grapefruit peel, which was done here and mixed with pink champagne. Oils from the peel are much more potent and give plenty of grapefruit flavor.



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