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Citrus and Spice Cocktails That Are Well Worth the Squeeze

Citrus reaches its peak during the winter, which makes it an obvious cocktail ingredient—especially when paired with spices.

Citrus and Spice Cocktails That Are Well Worth the Squeeze

January 20, 2021 –––––– Brittany Risher, , , ,

Most of us forget about seasonal produce as the chill of winter arrives, but for bartenders it's peak season, as they prepare for the bounty of blood oranges, lemons, and grapefruit to arrive from California and south of the Mexican border. Great citrus can do much more than dress up an Old Fashioned or add zing to a Whiskey Sour. The bright acidity of citrus can balance the peat of an Islay malt or a sweet bourbon when pressed into service.

Check out these bright and vibrant whisky cocktails made with lemon, yuzu, and more citrus fruits.

Ferdinand the Bull


Grilled blood orange juice imparts richness to this smoked cocktail, which also includes bourbon, amaro, and cherry liqueur.

Get the Recipe: Ferdinand the Bull


Knock Out


Ginger liqueur and cinnamon syrup add texture and spice, while the fresh-squeezed lemon juice brings out the brightness of blended Irish whiskey.

Get the Recipe: Knock Out


The Corner Store


Australian grain whisky, cherry syrup, and two kinds of citrus create a dead ringer of an old school black cherry soda.

Get the Recipe: The Corner Store


Burning History


Japanese whisky, Islay single malt, ginger syrup, and yuzu feature in this citrus-fueled twist on a Penicillin.

Get the Recipe: Burning History


How to Find the Best Citrus Fruits


The best fruit makes for the best cocktails. Here's what to look for, according to Allie Wainer, executive vice president and chief customer officer for Sid Wainer & Son, a distributor of specialty produce and foods.

Blood Oranges
Peak area: California
Peak season: December to mid-April
Look for firm with no soft spots and has a vibrant orange peel with a red tint.

Clementines
Peak area: California
Peak season: November to April
Look for very bright orange fruit that has some give to the outer skin but not soft enough to puncture the peel.

Grapefruit
Peak area: California
Peak season: January to early summer
Look for star ruby grapefruit with firm yellow skin that has a pink tint.

Kumquats
Peak area: California
Peak season: November to March
Look for very vibrant orange fruit that's firm but has a little give.

Lemons
Peak area: California
Peak season: November to April
Look for bright yellow fruit with firm skin.

Limes
Peak area: Mexico
Peak season: May and June, November and December
Look for dark green fruit with firm skin and no decay.

Pomelos
Peak area: California
Peak season: November to April
Look for firm, feels heavy for its size, and has a vibrant green skin with a healthy pink flesh and nice white rind inside.

Yuzu
Peak area: California
Peak season: June through August, November and December
Look for fruit with brilliant golden skin.