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The 11 Best Citrus Cocktails to Make in 2021

A teal bowl of citrus fruit on marble.

We’re in the middle of citrus season, so let’s concoct invigorating summer cocktails with peak seasonal ingredients like grapefruit, lemon, lime, and tangerine. Before making that citrus cocktail, we have bad news: There’s a decent chance you’re doing citrus wrong. We spoke with Tory Pratt, the founder of Pratt Standard Cocktail Company, a DC outfit that specializes in syrups tailor-made for vintage cocktails. Hence, 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). If you’re looking for easy cocktail recipes that include different types of citrus fruits, look no further.

Tips on Preparing Citrus Cocktails

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 add to cocktail recipes or experiment with various options, like the ones listed 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 citrus cocktails to showcase the height and zest of 2021.

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The Outdoor Type

The Outdoor Type Cocktail on a white surface.

(Created by Jehudiel Barba)

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 ounce “The Naturalist” Still Austin American Gin
  • 1 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • .5 ounce fresh lime juice
  • .75 ounce simple syrup

Method:

  1. Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker over ice.
  2. Shake until very cold and strain into a coupe glass.
  3. Garnish with a quarter moon of fresh grapefruit and a sprig of fresh rosemary.

Hemingway Daiquiri

Five bottles of Hemingway Daiquiri on a tray.

(Created by Montelupo, Portland)

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 ounce Cruzan White Rum
  • .25 ounce Luxardo
  • .5 ounce grapefruit juice
  • .25 ounce lime juice
  • .5 ounce water
  • .5 teaspoon simple syrup
  • Dash of Peychaud’s bitters

Method:

  1. Mix all ingredients together and serve up, finishing with bitters.
  2. If serving over ice, omit the water.

Gin Rickey

A refreshing glass of Gin Rickey Cocktail.
Pattymelt Creative

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounce gin
  • 3 ounce club soda
  • 1 ounce lime juice
  • .5 ounce simple syrup (optional)
  • 1 spent lime half from juicing

Method:

  1. Combine ingredients in a Collins glass.
  2. Add ice to fill.
  3. Stir bottom up to mix the ingredients. Garnish as desired.

Blackberry Mint Daiquiri

A hand holding a glass of Blackberry Mint Daiquiri on a wooden table.
Roulaison

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 ounce white rum (Roulaison suggested)
  • 1 ounce lime juice
  • 1 ounce Pratt Standard blackberry mint
  • Lime wheel garnish

Method:

  1. Freeze a coupe glass. Combine rum, lime, and blackberry mint in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Add lots of ice.
  3. Shake hard for 10 seconds.
  4. Strain into the coupe glass. Garnish with lime wheel.

Ti’ Punch

A cup of Ti-Punch on a floral tablecloth.
Photo Credit: Daniel Krieger

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounce rhum agricole (light or dark)
  • 1 bar spoon cane syrup
  • 1 wedge lime

Method:

  1. In a rocks glass, add a splash of cane syrup and a squeeze of lime.
  2. Add rhum agricole and a few ice cubes.
  3. Stir gently and garnish with a lime coin.

The Honeypot

A bottle of The Macallan, a cup of Honeypot Cocktail, lemon slices, and a spoonful of syrup on top of a golden plate on a wooden surface.

(Created by Erik Delanoy)

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounce The Macallan Double Cask 12-Year
  • .75 ounce Fresh Lemon Juice
  • .5 ounce Murray’s Chestnut Honey
  • 1 Dash Angostura Bitters

Method: 

  1. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker, and shake with ice until chilled.
  2. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice.

Kumquat Whiskey Sour

Two glasses of Kumquat Whiskey Sour on a wooden table.
Flickr/Patrick Truby

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 ounce bourbon
  • 2.5 ounce simple syrup
  • 3 kumquats, sliced and deseeded
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 lime, juiced

Method:

  1. 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.
  2. Shake well and strain into a glass.
  3. Garnish with a kumquat round.

Sole Rosso

A closeup of skewered candied limewheels on a glass of Sole Rosso.

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

Ingredients:

  • 1 ounce Boulard Solage Calvados
  • 1 ounce Montenegro Amaro
  • .5 ounce Facundo Eximo Rum
  • 1 ounce yuzu juice
  • 1 ounce chilled mango tea
  • .5 ounce agave nectar
  • Candied lime wheels, for garnish

Method:

  1. Add all liquid ingredients to a quality cocktail shaker tin with ice.
  2. Shake and strain into a snifter glass over a large ice cube.
  3. Garnish with a skewer of candied lime wheels.

Painkiller

An ice-cold glass of Painkiller Cocktail with cherry and leaf on a table.
Flickr/Justin van Dyke

(Adaptation by Dale DeGroff)

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounce navy rum
  • 2 ounce unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 1 ounce coconut cream
  • 1 ounce fresh orange juice

Method:

  1. Combine ingredients with ice and shake well.
  2. Strain into ice-filled Collins or highball glass.
  3. Garnish by grating fresh nutmeg over top.

Pisco Sour

A cold glass of Pisco Sour Cocktail with lime on a wooden table.
Mizina/Getty Images

(Created by Death & Co, NYC)

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounce Campo de Encanto Acholado Pisco
  • .75 ounce simple syrup
  • .5 ounce lemon juice
  • .5 ounce lime juice
  • 1 egg white

Method:

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

Veracruz

A glass of Veracruz Cocktail with strips of orange peel.

(Created by Cristóbal Srokowski, Ron Abuelo)

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 ounce Ron Abuelo 7 Años
  • .75 ounce orange juice
  • .75 ounce lime juice
  • 1/3 ounce honey syrup (2:1)
  • .75 ounce egg white
  • .5 ounce cinnamon syrup
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters

Method:

  1. Add all the ingredients in the shaker and dry shake so the egg white is emulsified.
  2. Then shake again with ice added.
  3. Double strain into a coupette or a martini glass and garnish with an orange peel.

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