Grapefruit-Thyme Cocktail

Serves 6
I created this drink for a birthday celebration while I was on a Jamaican vacation. Thyme and black peppercorns, local ingredients, steeped in a simple syrup. Grapefruit, which grows abundantly there, is used in a popular soft drink called Ting, and I think it adds the right “ting” in this drink too.


  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 bunch fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns, crushed
  • 4 grapefruits, juiced
  • 2 cups vodka
  • Club soda
  • Freshly ground black pepper, for garnish (optional)


  1. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and heat to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat. Add the thyme and peppercorns. Let steep for one hour. Strain and chill, reserving a few thyme sprigs for garnish.
  2. Mix grapefruit juice and vodka in a pitcher. (Chill if making ahead.) To serve, fill each 8-ounce glass with 1 tablespoon thyme syrup, add ice to fill the glass, and fill 3/4 of the way full with the grapefruit mixture. Top with club soda. Garnish with 1 sprig of fresh thyme and some cracked black pepper if desired.
cook's note
The Spirit Revolution: It’s amazing what has happened to the traditional spirits of gin, vodka, and whisky. All sorts of small local distilleries have cropped up across North America, using regional ingredients for fermenting: maple, potatoes, pine, etc. Just as terroir defines a wine, so are these new spirits authentic representations of place. When you’re traveling, pick up a spirit you’ve never tried and then create a memorable drink at home.
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