Right now is prime citrus season. Translation: You should be making invigorating spring cocktails with peak seasonal ingredients like grapefruit, lemon, lime, and tangerine.
Before we jump in, there’s a decent chance you’re doing citrus wrong. Tory Pratt is the founder of Pratt Standard Cocktail Company, a DC outfit that specializes in syrups tailor-made for vintage fruit cocktails. So it’s no surprise that Pratt knows a thing or two about getting the best out of citrus (Pratt’s ideal citrus-forward classic is the daiquiri, and we’ve got her favorite version, a blackberry mint riff, below).
How can we be better with citrus when mixing a drink? For starters, when it comes to limes, Pratt suggests looking for smooth fruit. “They’ll have two-to-three times the juice of pebbly limes the same size,” she says. Look for limes with a bit of give to them when you press. And keep in mind that the smooth rule doesn’t apply to other citrus.
Pratt also touts the importance of fresh juice. “Any lemon or lime juice that’s been sitting out for more than one-to-two hours oxidizes and becomes less tart,” Pratt says. “So you need to use more of it to find sour-sweet balance in cocktails.” She says a lot of bartenders are using old juice, pressed prior to opening up shop. Orange juice is more forgiving, as are bottled citrus juices.
Another fun twist is to swap lime for lemon or vice versa. Pratt says this can be done for just about any cocktail out there. She pushes this notion for one staple drink in particular. “Everyone thinks of gin and tonic with lime,” Pratt says. “Lime is great with heavy juniper gins like London Dry Style, but honestly, lemon is worth trying, too, especially with more botanical gins like American Dry Style and Old Tom gin.”
Keep in mind that the citrus world is broader than you might think, encompassing cocktail-ready fruits like yuzu, pomelo, kumquat, and more. Look for more exotic options to plug in to classic cocktail recipes or experiment with various options in the eleven fantastic options below. Whether you’re looking for the national drink of Martinique (Ti’Punch) or Pratt’s beloved Gin Rickey, we’ve got the eleven best cocktails to showcase the height of citrus season.
Here’s to a zesty spring!
The Outdoor Type
(Created by Jehudiel Barba)
- 1.5 oz “The Naturalist” Still Austin American Gin
- 1 oz fresh lemon juice
- .5 oz fresh lime juice
- .75 oz simple syrup
Method: Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker over ice. Shake until very cold and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a quarter moon of fresh grapefruit and a sprig of fresh rosemary.
(Created by Montelupo, Portland)
- 1.5 oz Cruzan White Rum
- .5 oz grapefruit juice
- .25 oz lime juice
- .25 oz Luxardo
- .5 oz water
- .5 teaspoon simple syrup
- Dash of Peychaud’s bitters
Method: Mix all ingredients together and serve up, finishing with bitters. If serving over ice, omit the water.
- 2 oz gin
- 1 oz lime juice
- .5 oz simple syrup (optional)
- 1 spent lime half from juicing
- 3 oz club soda
Method: Combine ingredients in a Collins glass. Add ice to fill. Stir bottom up to mix the ingredients. Garnish as desired.
Blackberry Mint Daiquiri
- 1.5 oz white rum (Roulaison suggested)
- 1 oz lime juice
- 1 oz Pratt Standard blackberry mint
- Lime wheel garnish
Method: Freeze a coupe glass. Combine rum, lime, and blackberry mint in a cocktail shaker. Add lots of ice. Shake hard for 10 seconds. Strain into the coupe glass. Garnish with lime wheel.
- 2 oz rhum agricole (light or dark)
- 1 bar spoon cane syrup
- 1 wedge lime
Method: In a rocks glass, add a splash of cane syrup and a squeeze of lime. Add rhum agricole and a few ice cubes. Stir gently and garnish with a lime coin.
(Created by Erik Delanoy)
- 2 oz The Macallan Double Cask 12-Year
- .75 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
- .5 oz Murray’s Chestnut Honey
- 1 Dash Angostura Bitters
Kumquat Whiskey Sour
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 lime, juiced
- 3 kumquats, sliced and deseeded
- 2.5 oz simple syrup
- 1.5 oz bourbon
Method: Combine 2 ounces of kumquat sour mix (lemon juice, lime juice, kumquats and simple syrup blended together) with 1.5 ounces bourbon in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well and strain into a glass. Garnish with a kumquat round.
(Courtesy of Scarpetta by Scott Conant, Fontainebleau Miami Beach)
- 1 oz Boulard Solage Calvados
- 1 oz Montenegro Amaro
- .5 oz Facundo Eximo Rum
- 1 oz yuzu juice
- 1 oz chilled mango tea
- .5 oz agave nectar
- Candied lime wheels, for garnish
Method: Add all liquid ingredients to a cocktail shaker tin with ice. Shake and strain into a snifter glass over a large ice cube. Garnish with a skewer of candied lime wheels.
(Adaptation by Dale DeGroff)
- 2 oz navy rum
- 2 oz unsweetened pineapple juice
- 1 oz coconut cream
- 1 oz fresh orange juice
Method: Combine ingredients with ice and shake well. Strain into ice-filled Collins or highball glass. Garnish by grating fresh nutmeg over top.
(Created by Death & Co, NYC)
- 2 oz Campo de Encanto Acholado Pisco
- .5 oz lemon juice
- .5 oz lime juice
- .75 oz simple syrup
- 1 egg white
Method: Dry shake all the ingredients, then shake again with ice. Double strain into a coupe. Garnish with three drops of
(Created by Cristóbal Srokowski, Ron Abuelo)
- 1.5 oz Ron Abuelo 7 Años
- .75 oz orange juice
- .75 oz lime juice
- 1/3 oz honey syrup (2:1)
- .5 oz cinnamon syrup
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- .75 oz. egg white
Method: Add all the ingredients in the shaker and dry shake so the egg white is emulsified. Then shake again with ice added. Double strain into a coupette or a martini glass and garnish with an orange peel.
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