11 Best Citrus Cocktails to Make for Spring

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

The Outdoor Type Cocktail

(Created by Jehudiel Barba)

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. 

Hemingway Daiquiri

Hemingway Daiquiri

(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.

Gin Rickey

Gin Rickey Cocktail
Pattymelt Creative
  • 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

Blackberry Mint Daiquiri
Roulaison
  • 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.

Ti’ Punch

rum for mixed drinks like mojitos
  • 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.

The Honeypot

Honeypot Cocktail

(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

Kumquat Whiskey Sour
Flickr/Patrick Truby
  • 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.

Sole Rosso

Sole Rosso

(Courtesy of Scarpetta by Scott Conant, Fontainebleau Miami Beach)

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.

Painkiller

Painkiller Cocktail
Flickr/Justin van Dyke

(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.

Pisco Sour

Pisco Sour Cocktail
Mizina/Getty Images

(Created by Death & Co, NYC)

Method: Dry shake all the ingredients, then shake again with ice. Double strain into a coupe. Garnish with three drops of Angostura bitters.

Veracruz

Veracruz Cocktail

(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. 

Read more: Essential Cocktail Recipes

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