For an at-home cocktail inspired by local bars, make dried citrus wheels

Courtesy The Overpass Merchant

Dehydrated slices of lemon, lime and orange are popular garnishes in craft cocktails, adding both elegance and a hint of flavor to a wide variety of spirits. With south Louisiana’s citrus season kicking off this month, it’s a great time to explore them.   

“A lot of times people are curious, and they say, ‘This is pretty; what is it?,’” says Amanda Plumb, general manager of The Overpass Merchant, which floats a dehydrated slice of lemon in its popular Prague Ghost, a drink made with cucumber vodka, elderflower liqueur, lemon juice, simple syrup and a finish of soda water. Other drinks on the menu see the garnish as well, like the Interstate Love Song, made with honeysuckle vodka, kiwi syrup, lemon juice, soda and bitters.  

The Merchant has used its own dehydrator for the last six years to dry lemon, lime and orange citrus wheels for cocktails. Plumb says that while the garnish is edible, it’s more about the suggestion of flavor and the gilded look it gives the cocktail.

“It’s different from using fresh citrus,” she says, “and it’s just a really pretty way to finish a drink.” 

Dry your own citrus at home with a dehydrator, an air fryer or an oven set to 150 degrees. Place thin slices of fruit on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for about 4 hours, turning halfway through until all moisture has been removed. Store in an airtight container.

This article was originally published in the November 2022 issue of 225 magazine.