Palomas by the pitcher

Good silver tequila, 2½-3½ cups
Grand Marnier, 1-1¼ cup
Pink grapefruit, ~8 or enough for 3½-4 cups of fresh juice and 2-3 tbsp of crushed pulp
Persian limes, ~8 or enough for 1 cup of fresh juice 
Water, 1 cup
Sugar, ½ cup
Fresh basil, torn, ~½ cup, divided
Soda water, 1 cup
Ice cubes
Coarse sea salt for rimming glasses, if desired

Serves: ~10 drinks

1. Bring water, sugar, and ¼ cup basil leaves to a boil, then reduce and simmer for 10 minutes to make a basil infused simple syrup. 
2. Juice grapefruit and limes with a juicer. Alternatively, if you are juicing by hand: Warm each fruit for 20-30 seconds in a microwave. Roll on cutting board before cutting each in half. Poke each half thoroughly with a fork, then use the fork to use apply pressure and get more juice out. Save a few slices of lime for coating rim of glasses.
3. Set aside 2-3 tablespoons of crushed grapefruit pulp.
4. Strain juice to remove any seeds and pour into container with secure lid.
5. Strain basil leaves and add simple syrup to juice. 
6. Add tequila and Grand Marnier; shake well, then chill until ready to serve. Within the suggested range, adjust the quantities to the strength desired. 
7. Add soda water immediately prior to serving. 
8. Moisten rims of old-fashioned glasses with slices of limes and dip into sea salt. 
9. Fill glasses with ice and a few basil leaves; pour over.   

The story:
a Paloma ~ grapefruit margarita with fresh basil
(apologies...still new to this "food photography" thing)
While I've definitely thrown parties where I lovingly mixed each cocktail by hand (and enjoyed catching up with each guest individually as I played bartender), there are also times when I wanted to sit down and relax with friends and family...or when impatient friends and family weren't willing to wait 20 minutes for their drink. However, it's hard to find really good cocktail recipes designed for pitchers, and the proportions don't always scale up easily. Shaking or muddling 10 cups of liquid is very different than one or two cups.

The Paloma was originally a Mexican cocktail made with grapefruit soda and tequila. For a quick, after-work version for two, try 12 oz of San Pellegrino Pompelmo soda with 4 oz of tequila, 1 oz of orange liqueur (optional) and a few basil leaves, divided in two glasses. I first tried one at a tiny taquería; I improvised this version, oh, about 12 hours ago, when I proposed making margaritas with fresh lime juice and my sister requested a grapefruit margarita. She put hers in the blender, which I consider an absolute travesty, the desecration of a beautiful cocktail...but she said it was delicious.
My sister, beautiful girl
July 2013
As I wrote this out, I thought, gee, I hope that in 20 years, my son's reaction to trying this recipe is akin to the way I feel about a good Corpse Reviver No. 2...not screwdrivers and Mudslides. 

Some thoughts on the suggested ingredients...
1. Simple syrup vs. agave nectar: I used to use agave nectar in all my cocktails; recently, I switched back to simple syrup. For an interesting consideration of whether agave nectar is actually healthier, see this article from the New York Times.
2. Persian vs. Key limes: Many margarita recipes suggest using Key or Mexican limes because they are sweeter; however, common Persian limes are larger, significantly easier to juice and more readily available, and the proportion of simple syrup in this recipe is based on using Persian limes.

This beautiful cutting board was made from sections of the butcher block in our kitchen growing up, cut and sanded to nestle into the sink. I love it.

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