Why Do We Use Fresh-Squeezed Citrus in Cocktails?

Mary Katherine Morris Photography
Mary Katherine Morris Photography / Mary Katherine Morris Photography

It’s less bitter and more delicious than its bottled counterpart! After juice is squeezed, a chemical in the limonoid family begins to build up. It’s thought that citrus fruits contain chemicals that react with air to form a limonoid in a process known as enzymatic bittering. Thus, the longer the juice is out of the fruit, the more bitter it gets.

For some juices, a little bit of bitterness isn’t a bad thing. In blind taste tests, subjects preferred four-hour-old lemon and lime juice over fresh squeezed. It’s thought that a small amount of the chemicals limonin (in lime) or nomilin (in lemon) is present after several hours. Since low levels of bitterness can suppress sourness, nuanced flavors that are overpowered in fresh juice can be tasted if you give them a little time.

Aging affects orange and grapefruit juice in slightly different ways. Since orange juice contains significantly more sugar than acid, adding even slight bitterness can make it taste worse. On the other hand, grapefruit juice’s sour taste profile can be enhanced by bitterness.

Each fruit’s unique flavor is defined by the concentration of different acids within the juice. The three most common acids present in citrus are citric, succinic, and malic acids. Taste-wise, succinic acid is known best for its role in the taste of apples, while citric acid adds fruity notes and malic acid gives a sharp, tingly taste.

However, each fruit’s aroma impacts its taste more than its acid content does. When whole, the fruit’s essential oils are stored in tiny sacs in its flesh and skin. As it's juiced, these compounds are released into the liquid, which imparts the fruit’s characteristic smell and taste.

Hit the Lab

On paper, the ingredients in a classic Blood & Sand may seem completely discordant, but they come together to form a rich, smooth cocktail. Its name was most likely pulled from a 1922 movie with the same title, but little else is known about its origins. After first appearing in Henry Craddock’s 1930 The Savoy Cocktail Book, it fell into obscurity until master mixologist Dale DeGroff rediscovered the recipe in the mid-1990s.

Mary Katherine Morris Photography

Blood & Sand

.75 oz sweet vermouth
.75 oz fresh-squeezed orange juice
.75 oz Heering cherry liqueur
.75 oz mild scotch

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice, and shake for 15-20 seconds or until combined. Strain into a chilled coupe glass and serve straight up.