SpiritsDale DeGroff’s Vodka-Based Cocktails

A staple of many cocktails, Dale DeGroff shares exclusive vodka cocktail recipes.

Please welcome some old favourites as well as some newcomers, as we step into the world of vodka cocktails with the world’s best-known expert, Dale DeGroff, King of Cocktails.


Grapefruit Julep

One of the best-flavoured vodkas in the vodka-based category is the star of this recipe, an original of mine that takes some serious liberties with the julep. I concocted it a few years ago after doing some work for both the grapefruit growers of Florida and for POM Wonderful pomegranate juice, both of which are pleasingly tart like cranberry juice. Tart ingredients are excellent for mixing in cocktails. A couple of years after I invented the Grapefruit Julep, Finlandia Grapefruit was released, and I think it may very well be the best of this ilk of flavoured spirits, so that’s what’s used below.


  • 2 Mint sprigs
  • 15ml Fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 15ml Honey syrup
  • 15ml Agave syrup
  • 45ml Vodka, preferably Finlandia Grapefruit
  • 45ml Fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 30ml POM Wonderful pomegranate juice


In the bottom of a mixing glass, bruise one of the mint sprigs and add the lime juice, honey syrup, and agave syrup. Next, add the vodka, grapefruit juice, pomegranate juice, and ice—and shake well. Then strain it into a highball glass filled with crushed ice and stir to frost, as you would a Mint Julep. Garnish with the remaining sprig of mint.


Bloody Mary

With the exception of the martini, I suspect no other drink inspires as much debate as the Bloody Mary. The discussion often centres on the extent of the spiciness or on the correct garnish, and so this cocktail offers a rich ground for improvisation in both areas. So, you should have fun with this one, and mix whatever pleases you, no matter what anyone else says. What follows is a recipe proven to please many.


  • 60ml Vodka
  • 120ml Tomato juice
  • 10ml Freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 dashes of Tabasco sauce
  • 2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • Pinch each of freshly ground black pepper and salt
  • Dash of celery salt (optional)
  • Freshly grated horseradish, to taste (optional)
  • Lemon and lime wedge for garnish


In a mixing glass combine the vodka, tomato juice, lemon juice, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, and the optional celery salt and horseradish. Add ice and roll back and forth to mix. Strain into an iced goblet and garnish with the lemon and lime wedges on a sideplate.

Technique note

Drinkers may forever debate the inclusion of horseradish, but no one will argue with this: a Bloody Mary should never be shaken hard, or the integrity of the tomato juice is compromised. Shaking makes it foamy, and the juice loses its weight and texture on the tongue, ruining the drink. This is not a martini, and personal preference does not come into play—you roll a Bloody Mary back and forth to combine the ingredients, you do not shake it.


See also: Dale DeGroff’s Tequila Cocktails

Dale DeGroff’s Gin Cocktails