Winter, and citrus season, are just around the corner, making it the perfect time to brush up on your citrus know-how.
Citrus is perhaps one of the most common cocktail flavor additives, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be boring or trite. Consider unconventional citrus varietals, making your own infusions, and upgrading your garnishes. Even when used in a classic fashion, the right citrus can transform a drink. To help get you inspired, we’re sharing four ways to up your citrus game year-round.
It’s impossible to talk about citrus and not talk bitters. We’ve written about bitters extensively lately, but in case you’re not caught up, we’ll give you the basics. Bitters can range extensively depending on the maker, but are a perfect vehicle for citrus as they are made from infusing fruit peels and more into a flavorless alcohol base. One of our favorites in the citrus range is Angostura Orange Bitters, a classic bar staple made from tropical orange citrus oils and a complex blend of botanicals, herbs and spices. Angostura orange bitters is a fantastic substitute for fresh citrus zest and adds exceptional flavor without adding grit to any cocktail. Not only is this fantastic for keeping a cocktail light and balanced, but it also saves you from relying on citrus when it’s not in season.
Try an Aromatic Mist! Scent has an incredible effect on flavor, which means that using a perfume like mist can have a dramatic effect with little effort. Food grade aromatic mists can be interesting for a range of reasons, one of which is that they allow you to make use of ingredients and aromatics that it would be difficult to harness otherwise. If you’re looking to explore, Vermont based Alice and the Magician offers two unique citrus options. Sage & Exotic Citrus has a base of yuzu, meyer lemon, and clary sage that start with a sharp, angular nose and fade to an herbaceous, smooth finish that pair well with Gibsons, Gin drinks, tonics, and Tequila.
Citrus Flavored Salts are a great way to add flavor and salinity to drinks; they also make for a fantastic garnish. In simple cocktails, a citrus salt can make a huge impact, but it can get lost in more complicated drinks. Try using it to rim a glass, add sparkle and flavor to a garnish (salt dipped citrus wheel or tomato), or sprinkled over foam to finish. Creating your own custom salt mixes is straightforward and allows for endless creativity.
Citrus Zen Thyme Salt
- 1/2 Cup Course, Flakey Salt
- 1 Tsp Buddhas Hand Citrus Zest
- 1 Tsp Fresh Thyme Leaves
Preparation: In a small bowl, mix your ingredients until fully combined; the mixture may be slightly wet if using fresh ingredients. Transfer to a parchment-lined sheet tray and spread the mixture out in an even layer. Place in a warm but not hot oven (200º or so) and let go until the herbs and zest are fully dried. Note that depending on your oven, the tray may need to be rotated to keep it from burning. More or less flavoring can be added to create a stronger mix. For a faster make, sub in already dried herbs and spices. Using fresh herbs and zest allows for better flavor distribution within the salt.
Using a Citrus based Shrub is another fantastic way to add depth and flavor to a drink quickly. The shrub is a historic drink that has recently made a comeback due to its unique taste and health benefits. The best thing about shrubs is that they can preserve seasonal produce for up to six months after preparation. This makes them a fantastic way to keep a seasonal menu to reduce environmental impact while still making use of winter citrus such as blood orange. When making a citrus shrub, be sure to carefully and thoroughly wash all fruit before preparation to remove any wax and lingering pesticides.