On the Rocks: Spiced Citrus and Earl Grey Mocktail Recipe

Served straight up over ice, this spiced citrus and Earl Grey mocktail recipe is perfect for those moments when you are craving something short and strong without the alcoholic punch.

Made from the peels of white grapefruit and orange, the syrup has a powerful sweet and sour citrus character reminiscent of seville oranges.  The fragrant winter spices have a natural affinity to citrus adding layers of complexity on top of the fruit.

The Earl Grey tea contributes both flavor and tannin to the mocktail, adding weight and a rounded mouthfeel – similar to what you’d expect from an alcoholic drink.

Designed to be savored slowly, this rich and concentrated drink will have you tasting the citrusy spice long after you have taken your last sip.  

So, relax, unwind and enjoy.


  • 1 oz. (30 ml) spiced citrus syrup (see below)
  • 3 oz. (30 ml) Earl Grey tea, cooled to room temperature
  • Ice
  • Lemon peel and maraschino cherry to garnish (optional)

For the spiced citrus syrup:

  • 1 white grapefruit peel and juice (approx. 4 oz. / 120 ml)
  • 1 orange peel
  • 2 oz. (60 ml) water
  • 4 oz. (120 g) sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick (3 inches)
  • 3 allspice berries, crushed
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 star anise


  • Knife
  • Heavy-bottomed saucepan with lid
  • Citrus juicer
  • Pestle and mortar (or the end of a rolling pin)
  • Fine-mesh sieve
  • Bowl
  • Kettle
  • Jigger or measuring spoons
  • Cocktail shaker
  • Rocks glass (or tumbler)


  1. First, start with the spiced citrus syrup.
  2. Add the grapefruit peel, orange peel, orange juice, water, sugar and spices to the heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Stir frequently to dissolve the sugar.
  4. Once it has come to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Take the saucepan off the heat, put the lid on and let the mixture steep for another 15 minutes.
  6. Pass the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve to separate the solids from the syrup.
  7. Leave to cool to room temperature.
  8. Next, prepare the Earl Grey tea.
  9. Pour boiling water over a quality Earl Grey tea bag and steep for 3-5 minutes.
  10. Remove the tea bag and allow the tea to cool to room temperature.
  11. Finally, assemble the mocktail.
  12. Add the spiced citrus syrup, Earl Grey tea, and orange juice to a cocktail shaker.
  13. Throw in a handful of ice and shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds until the outside of the shaker is extremely cold.
  14. Strain into a rocks glass over ice.
  15. Garnish with a lemon peel and a maraschino cherry, if desired.

Note:  Any unused spiced citrus syrup can be stored in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 2 months.

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Spiced Citrus and Earl Grey Rocks FAQ

Can I use a different type of tea instead of Earl Grey?
Yes, you can experiment with different types of tea.  My recommendation would be to substitute another strong black tea to extract enough tannins and flavor for this mocktail.  Earl Grey has a unique flavor profile, and it’s important to remember that the character of the drink will change when a different tea is used.

Can I use a different type of citrus fruit?
You could replace the grapefruit and orange peels with seville oranges.  Typically used in cooking – notably for marmalade, they have a sour and tart flavor that would work well as a substitute.

Can I use ground spices instead of whole spices for the syrup?
To impart the best flavor, it is recommended to use whole spices instead of ground spice for the syrup.  

Can I make the spiced citrus syrup and Earl Grey tea ahead of time?
Yes, both the spiced citrus syrup and Early Grey tea can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge until you are ready to make the mocktails.  The spiced citrus syrup will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Can I use a sweetener other than sugar?
Yes, you can replace the sugar for alternative sweeteners like honey, agave nectar or maple syrup.  The fructose levels of these sugar substitutes are typically higher than sugar.  Hence, to achieve the same sweetness level in the spiced syrup, I’d recommend using 2 oz. (60 ml) of alternative sweetener with an additional 2 oz. (60 ml) of water to replace the sugar.

Can I make a large batch of the spiced citrus syrup?
Yes, you can easily scale up the recipe to make a larger batch of spiced citrus syrup.

Can I use bottled orange juice instead of fresh orange juice?
Yes, you can use bottled orange juice, but I find that freshly squeezed orange juice gives the mocktail a more vibrant flavor.

Can I use a different type of glass instead of a rocks glass?
Yes, you can use any type of small tumbler to serve this drink.  There isn’t much liquid in the recipe, as it is designed to be served over ice and sipped slowly.  

Can I make this mocktail without a cocktail shaker?
Yes.  You do not need a cocktail shaker to make this recipe.  Simply add the syrup and Earl Grey tea to a large glass with ice.  Use a spoon to stir the ingredients until they are ice-cold; this can take up to a minute.  Then strain into the rocks glass over some fresh ice to serve.

Can I use decaf Earl Grey tea?
Yes, you can use decaf Earl Grey tea if you prefer.

Did you make this?  Tag me @mightymocktail or use the hashtag #mightymocktail!

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