Juice Smarter for Better Daiquiris
Today: All about choosing and juicing citrus, plus a famed daiquiri variation to use it all up.
Every day at my bar, we typically juice around one case of lemons, three quarters of a case of limes, half a case of grapefruit, and half a case of oranges. That’s every single day. When I see how much citrus we go through on an average busy day and night, I think back to the first cocktail bar I worked in.
Every morning it was the daytime bartender’s job to head over to the grocery store across the street and pick up a pack of Virginia Slims for the daytime cook, one of those big metal cans of grapefruit juice, and six limes and six lemons for garnishing gin and tonics and iced teas. I remember clearly that at one point, the woman who was training me informed me that “limes and lemons are actually the same thing; limes are just unripened lemons.” That wasn’t really too long ago, but I feel like we’ve all come a long way.
Citrus is so ubiquitous in cocktails nowadays that it’s often taken for granted. Back when I came of age and started hanging around in bars, drinks were being made with canned, neon-green sour mix, and nobody thought twice about it. These days, we shouldn’t think of using anything other than fresh-squeezed juice in our cocktails. And yet, as today’s craft bartenders turn their attention to things such as apothecary herbs and esoteric tinctures, the basic lemon or lime still doesn’t really get the attention it’s due.
Citrus in all its forms brings much to the party: Quarters are muddled, peels are zested, oils are extracted, and wedges are squeezed over the top. But it’s the juice — sour, fresh, pungent, bracing juice — that brings the most to the world of cocktails.
Which is why it’s absolutely critical that you know how to choose, store, and handle citrus fruit, and then coax out the best quality juice from it. Here’s what you need to know about your citrus in order to make a proper cocktail.
As with everything that you’ll use to make a cocktail, the first criterion when choosing citrus is freshness. With pretty much every other food type, I would advocate working with a local grower, but unless you’re living in a climate along the lines of California’s, Costa Rica’s, or Morocco’s, that may not be feasible.