Leftover Citrus Sprays
While all bars use booze, most bars use fresh citrus.
It is one of the most important ingredients to have on hand because it belongs to so many classic cocktail recipes.
Because of that, Lemons, Limes, and Oranges are some of the most wasted food items behind the average bar. This is because they are usually used solely for their skin and juice which goes bad relatively quickly.
The citrus dilemma behind bars is a big one and there is no cure-all to solve it, but there are many strategies and steps to implement and reduce the amount that we waste.
In this post, we will see one way of reusing the citrus skins that have been used for expressing oils onto drinks, but NOT for garnishing.
Citrus peels that are typically used for this unique purpose are what we in the industry call ‘Citrus Coins’.
What are Citrus Coins?
Citrus coins are round-shaped peels commonly used behind the bar to express aromatic oils onto drinks before being discarded into the trash or garnished.
They are great for bartenders to have on hand because just a small piece of skin can provide the right amount of oils and aromas for any drink.
Prepped coins can help bartenders with their speed of service and efficiency by working faster while delivering the same results as a normal long sliced peel.
Scenting cocktails with citrus oils are one of the oldest mixology techniques still used today, and the technique is very difficult to replace, which is why most bars and bartenders won’t give it up.
The flavor and aroma that they give to cocktails is irreplaceable, but once used, they usually make their way to the bin despite having still so much more flavor to offer!
Citrus coins that have been squeezed for their scent still contain strong fresh oils locked inside of them that can be extracted in a number of different ways.
This recipe will show you how to extract their flavors using alcohol so that they can be used as an easy, quick, and flavorful vaporizer for drinks.
Remember, citrus that has already been used as a garnish inside of a drink SHOULD NOT be used for infusing. That would be totally gross!
Only use peels that have been pinched for their aroma and set aside.
Citrus Spray Infusions
Most citrus can be easily infused with any type of alcohol.
An infused spirit provides an add-on of flavor to cocktails, but I often find that spirit infused with citrus peels adds too much bitterness even when the pith is completely removed.
From my experience, citrus infusions work better for adding ‘smell’ rather than ‘taste’ to a cocktail.
In other words, they have more use when sprayed onto a drink rather than poured into one.
While these infusions don’t give the exact same flavor as fresh citrus, they still release a delightful citrusy smell to accompany the cocktail.
In addition, they have some additional perks that normal citrus peels don’t have on their own.
- The citrus flavors are preserved within a spirit, which means that they have a very long shelf-life.
- They are fast and easy to use and require no additional prep.
- They can be stored up into different flavors: Grapefruit, Blood Orange, Lime, whatever!
- They can be flammable which means that they can express burnt citrus flavors for flair as well as for their unique aromas on a drink (but be careful and proceed with caution when dealing with flammable objects).
Now that you know the advantages of citrus sprays, let’s take a look at how to make these sustainable aromatizers yourself!
The only con (and it’s a big one for some bartenders) is that the flavor of fresh citrus oils vs preserved ones in alcohol is not the same. Some cocktails work best with one or the other.
To make aromatizers from leftover expressed citrus, you’ll need:
- Any type of leftover citrus peels (I’m using citrus coins)
- Neutral Grain Alcohol with very high ABV (I’m using Everclear)
- Jar or container
- Spray bottle
Save and collect all of your leftover used citrus coins or peels. I like to separately infuse the different types of citrus from each other, but you could even combine them altogether if you don’t have enough of one type (there is nothing wrong with that, but do remember that the color won’t be as vibrant or pleasant looking).
In the photo above, I have separated 4 types of citrus coins.
(Remember, you can also infuse pomegranate skins like in my previous recipe on Pomegranate Skin Infusion! Try it as a spray instead!)
Once you have your leftover used citrus, you’ll need your neutral grain alcohol.
It is better to use something with a very high alcohol content like Everclear, which is 95% ABV.
This will ensure that all of the flavors can be completely extracted from the skins in a short amount of time.
You can also use a lower ABV spirit like Vodka, but just keep in mind that it will take more days to infuse, and will not be able to catch fire when aromatizing your drinks.
There are no precise measurements to make. Simply pack a small jar filled with citrus and alcohol and let it sit.
Let it sit as long as possible until the peels colors have been extracted by the liquid.
If you’re using a 95% ABV spirit, 5 days should be enough.
If you’re using something with a lower ABV, let sit for around two weeks.
Once you have a bright-colored liquid simply strain out the used coins from the booze.
Now you could even water down your sprays to have more to use on hand!
If you made your infusion with a 95% ABV spirit, pour the equivalent of 1/3 of its amount with water to dilute.
So if you have 60ml of infused citrus, mix 20ml of water with it.
This way you’ll have more of it and it can still be flammable for your cocktails!
If you chose to go the other route and use a lower ABV spirit like Vodka, there is no need to dilute it.
Once you have the mixture, pour it into a reusable spray bottle and you’re ready to go!
Now you have extra sprays that can be used on drinks that don’t have or need citrus.
You can even cut down on your citrus by using these since you will only need to spray a small amount for each cocktail.
The best part…you can aromatize your drinks with burnt citrus flavors. Just be careful and NEVER EVER point it at your guest or anything that can catch on fire.
Some suggestions to use citrus sprays on:
Orange Spray: Negroni, Old Fashioned, Cosmopolitan, Manhattans, etc.
Lemon Spray: Martinez, Sazerac, Martinis, etc.
Lime Spray: Gin Tonics, Gimlets, Daquiris, Mai Tais, etc.
Grapefruit Spray: Brown Derby, Salty Dog, Palomas, etc.