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This breezy cold brew cocktail with Campari and grapefruit juice makes a pitch-perfect pitcher drink to serve with brunch.

two glasses of the grand prix cold brew cocktail outdoors
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Why we love this recipe

The Grand Prix is one perfect brunch cocktail for spring and summer. It’s peak-level light and refreshing, yet has a lot going on under the surface. Campari and cold brewed coffee (who’da thought?) contribute a broad spectrum of delicious bitter flavors, grapefruit juice provides both tartness and fruitiness, and a generous splash of tonic takes the edge off the bitterness while fizzing things up a bit. 

After all these years, I’m pretty good at reading a recipe or a menu and understanding how the flavors will play out, but The Grand Prix involves a sort of alchemy that I had to taste to understand. It’s extremely likable, but not in ways you’d predict by just looking at it.

Kind of like my favorite brunch guests, actually. 

This cocktail was created by Morgan Schick for Villon, a restaurant and lounge in San Francisco’s Proper Hotel. It comes to us via Maggie Hoffman’s 2019 book Batch Cocktails: Make-Ahead Pitcher Drinks for Every Occasion. I first printed this recipe here in 2019, with permission of the author and publisher. Learn more about the book below.

What you’ll need

Here’s a glance at the ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe.

ingredients
  • Cold brewing produces a smooth, satisfying coffee concentrate with less bitterness than coffee brewed with hot water. Buy it or make your own.
  • There’s nothing more straightforward than buying a ruby-red bottle of Campari. This Italian bittersweet aperitif has a smooth yet complex flavor profile, with notes of rhubarb, clove, orange, cinnamon, and cherry. It’s bitter and herbal and a little astringent and just so good.
  • It’s fairly quick and easy to make your own freshly squeezed grapefruit juice for this recipe, so I really recommend doing so, for peak freshness. That said, it’s okay to use a good-quality fresh, cold-pressed, bottled grapefruit juice from the refrigerator section if you’re making a big batch and don’t feel like juicing a million grapefruits.
  • There are a ton of fancy, craft tonic waters on the market these days. It’s kinda fun and also a little overwhelming. Their flavor profiles vary pretty dramatically, so taste and find your favorites. The good news is that many people still prefer good old Schweppes for its clean, balanced taste. Fever Tree is also a great bet.
  • The recipe calls for 2:1 simple syrup, which is two parts sugar to one part water by weight. I personally tend to keep 1:1 simple syrup in my fridge. It’s honestly fine to use either one in this recipe — if using 1:1, double the amount.
  • A tiny bit of fine sea salt heightens the flavors without making the drink taste salty.
  • I love a good grapefruit twist garnish for its straightforward simplicity. All you need is a quick swipe of a vegetable peeler.

How to make it

Here’s an overview of what you’ll do to make The Grand Prix cold brew cocktail. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details in the recipe card below. Here I’m showing the making of a single drink — the same process applies to a pitcher.

step by step
  1. First you’ll pour in the Campari.
  2. Add the cold brew, simple syrup, and salt. Stir in the grapefruit juice.
  3. Top with tonic water.
  4. Garnish with a grapefruit twist and serve. That’s it!

Batch Cocktails: Make-Ahead Pitcher Drinks for Every Occasion

I am lucky to count among my friends the cocktail expert Maggie Hoffman. Everyone should have a cocktail expert in their circle, don’t you think? But really, if you can, get Maggie.

Though Maggie and I share an undergraduate alma mater, I am…how do you say?…slightly too old to have met her there. Instead, we met as fledgling NYC-area food bloggers a decade ago, and then Maggie went on to become my editor at Serious Eats, where she founded the Drinks section. She now writes about bars and cocktails for publications including Food & Wine, Sunset, Wine Enthusiast, and the San Francisco Chronicle.

Even better, she’s the author of two books that both bring sophisticated cocktail recipes and techniques into the realm of non-experts. I love both of these books, and, since I love to entertain but don’t love chaos, I especially appreciate her most recent book, Batch Cocktails.

Batch Cocktails by Maggie Hoffman

Why we love this book

At its heart, this book gets you. It knows you want to throw a great party with a signature drink that your guests will want to make for their next party. And it really gets that sometimes making great drinks on the fly isn’t actually all that compatible with being a great host. These cocktails let you do most of the work ahead of time, and by the pitcher rather than glass by glass, so you can focus on spending time with your people.

Maggie sourced the dozens of cocktail recipes in Batch Cocktails from her favorite bartenders across the country. The book also includes lots of practical tips for making the best possible cocktails. (For example, don’t use subpar white ice like I did in the photos, ahem.)

These drinks — and this book — sit in a sweet spot at the intersection of expertise, approachability, and appealing sophistication. The cocktails aren’t ones you’d come up with on your own, but they’re mostly very accessible, and all of the recipes we’ve tried have been excellent and meticulously tested. These aren’t just cocktails you can batch. In many cases they’re ones you should batch, for the sake of consistency, proper dilution, and temperature control, as Maggie suggests in this New York Times article.

The book is organized by flavor profile and also indexed by season, occasion, and ingredients. And in case you weren’t sold yet, it’s worth the price of admission for the photos alone, thanks to the talented Kelly Puleio.

Expert tips and FAQs

Can I make this drink as a single cocktail instead of a batch?

Absolutely. Please refer to the notes section of the recipe card below, which indicates the measurements you’ll need to make a single drink. You can mix it up right in the glass, like any proper highball.

Can I make this recipe in advance? What about leftovers?

Yes, you can do a lot of the prep in advance. Make the simple syrup up to a month ahead, and the cold brew up to a couple of days in advance. Mix and chill the Campari, cold brew, simple syrup, and salt up to six hours before serving time. Juice the grapefruits and stir in the juice up to three hours in advance. Pour, top with tonic water, and garnish just before serving.

Leftover mixture will keep for about 24 hours in an airtight container in the fridge, though not at its peak.

More favorite brunch cocktails

two glasses of the grand prix cold brew cocktail outdoors

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Brunch Cocktails Campari Grand Prix | Umami Girl 780
5 from 4 votes

The Grand Prix (A Cold Brew Cocktail)

By Carolyn Gratzer Cope
The Grand Prix is a light, beautifully balanced cold brew cocktail created by Morgan Schick for Villon in San Francisco. The menu there notes, "Like the famous car race: Tall, red, cold, and bitter. Or is that like our ex-wife?" I don't race cars OR have an ex-wife, but I do very much love this cocktail. It comes to us via my friend Maggie Hoffman's book Batch Cocktails: Make-Ahead Pitcher Drinks for Every Occasion. In a million years I wouldn't have thought to pair cold brew coffee with Campari and grapefruit juice, but boy, it just works.
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes
Total: 25 minutes
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Ingredients 

  • 2 ¼ cups (530 ml) chilled Campari
  • 1 ½ cups (350 ml) chilled coffee or cold brew
  • 6 tablespoons (90 ml) 2:1 simple syrup (see note 5 below)
  • Pinch fine sea salt
  • 3 cups (710 ml) fresh grapefruit juice

To serve

  • 3 cups (710 ml) chilled tonic water
  • 12 grapefruit twists

Instructions 

  • Up to 6 hours before serving, make the batch. Pour chilled Campari, chilled coffee, simple syrup, and salt into a 2-quart pitcher and stir to mix. Seal well, covering with plastic wrap if needed, and refrigerate.
  • Up to 2 hours before serving, prepare grapefruit juice and stir into pitcher mix. Reseal and return to refrigerator if not serving immediately.
  • To serve, whisk pitcher mixture well, or pour half of the mixture into a blender and blend for 20 seconds, then stir back into remaining pitcher mix. Fill 12-ounce highball glasses with ice and add 1/4 cup chilled tonic water to each glass. Top with pitcher mix and garnish each drink with a grapefruit twist.

Notes

  1. Cold brewing produces a smooth, satisfying coffee concentrate with less bitterness than coffee brewed with hot water. Buy it or make your own.
  2. There's nothing more straightforward than buying a ruby-red bottle of Campari. This Italian bittersweet aperitif has a smooth yet complex flavor profile, with notes of rhubarb, clove, orange, cinnamon, and cherry. It's bitter and herbal and a little astringent and just so good.
  3. It's fairly quick and easy to make your own freshly squeezed grapefruit juice for this recipe, so I really recommend doing so, for peak freshness. That said, it's okay to use a good-quality fresh, cold-pressed, bottled grapefruit juice from the refrigerator section if you're making a big batch and don't feel like juicing a million grapefruits.
  4. There are a ton of fancy, craft tonic waters on the market these days. It's kinda fun and also a little overwhelming. Their flavor profiles vary pretty dramatically, so taste and find your favorites. The good news is that many people still prefer good old Schweppes for its clean, balanced taste. Fever Tree is also a great bet.
  5. To make 2:1 simple syrup, combine 1/2 cup sugar with 1/4 cup water in a small pot. Cook, stirring frequently, until sugar is just dissolved. Don't allow the mixture to boil. Cool completely before using. Store any leftovers tightly sealed in the fridge for up to a month. I personally tend to keep 1:1 simple syrup in my fridge. It's honestly fine to use either one in this recipe — if using 1:1, double the amount.
  6. A tiny bit of fine sea salt heightens the flavors without making the drink taste salty.
  7. I love a good grapefruit twist garnish for its straightforward simplicity. All you need is a quick swipe of a vegetable peeler.
  8. You can do a lot of the prep for this recipe in advance. Make the simple syrup up to a month ahead, and the cold brew up to a couple of days in advance. Mix and chill the Campari, cold brew, simple syrup, and salt up to six hours before serving time. Juice the grapefruits and stir in the juice up to three hours in advance. Pour, top with tonic water, and garnish just before serving.
  9. Leftover mixture will keep for about 24 hours in an airtight container in the fridge, though not at its peak.

Measurements and method for an individual cocktail

If you'd like to make a single Grand Prix, here's what you'll need:
3 tablespoons (45 ml) Campari
2 tablespoons (30 ml) cold brew
1 1/2 teaspoons (8 ml) 2:1 simple syrup
Pinch fine sea salt
1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh grapefruit juice
1/4 cup (60 ml)chilled tonic water
Grapefruit twist, to garnish
  1. Fill a highball glass halfway with ice.
  2. Pour in the Campari, cold brew, simple syrup, and salt.
  3. Stir in the grapefruit juice.
  4. Top with the tonic water and give it a gentle stir.
  5. Garnish with grapefruit twist and serve right away.

Nutrition

Calories: 210kcal

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Cocktails
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @umamigirl or tag #umamigirl!

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Thank you, Ten Speed Press.

Recipe ingredients and directions reprinted with permission from Batch Cocktails: Make-Ahead Pitcher Drinks for Every Occasion by Maggie Hoffman, copyright © 2019. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

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About Carolyn Gratzer Cope

Hi there, I'm Carolyn Gratzer Cope, founder and publisher of Umami Girl. Join me in savoring life, one recipe at a time. I'm a professional recipe developer with training from the French Culinary Institute (now ICE) and a lifetime of studying, appreciating, and sharing food.

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