Local citrus fruit is ready for harvest, and one of the tastiest ways to use it is in holiday cocktails. Craft bartenders will be the first to tell you that fresh juices play a big role in elevating an adult beverage. So why not take advantage of the oranges, kumquats, lemons, grapefruit and satsumas grown throughout the region? Extracting their fresh juice is the easiest way to go about it, but you can also make delectable simple syrup and use both the rind and fruit for a garnish in your favorite cocktails.
Here are our five ways to use Louisiana citrus in holiday cocktails:
Mix a Salty Dog
Grapefruit juice is an absolute cocktail classic, showing up with vodka or gin in the Greyhound, a drink that’s allegedly been around since the ’30s. Add salt to the rim and call it a Salty Dog. It’s tangy, fresh and perfect for anyone who likes the less-sweet side of the cocktail scale. Grapefruit is more commonly grown in Texas than Louisiana, but it does grow regionally, and even on backyard trees in Baton Rouge.
Make kumquat simple syrup
Take a pint (two cups) of fresh kumquats, and slice each in half. Press on the halves to extract the seeds. Toss in a sauce pan with equal parts water and sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Turn off the heat and let the pan sit for one hour. Pour the mixture through a strainer and discard the kumquat flesh. Add to Whiskey Sour, Pisco Sour, Brown Derby and many other drinks that call for simple syrup.
Meyer lemon for the twist
It sounds simple, but it makes such a big difference. A martini with a twist of citrus zest is a thousand times better when the lemon is Meyer and it’s been plucked from a local tree.
Satsuma in your morning mimosa
There are lots of different ways to prepare mimosas, and an obvious one is to upgrade store-bought orange juice with the juice of fresh Louisiana naval oranges, or better yet, satsumas. They’re sweeter and more intensely flavored than oranges, and they pair beautifully with Champagne.
Try your hand at Café Brûlot
Brandy-spiked coffee with cloves and a spiral of orange zest is a tableside New Orleans tradition made famous by the city’s old school restaurants. Make it at home with this recipe, which gives you a chance to use both fresh orange and lemon. But be careful!
Maggie Heyn Richardson is a regular 225 contributor. Reach her at hungryforlouisiana.com.