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Cocktails

Don’t Shake Your Citrus Cocktail

March 04, 2022

Story: Punch Staff

photo: Kelly Puleio

Cocktails

Don’t Shake Your Citrus Cocktail

March 04, 2022

Story: Punch Staff

photo: Kelly Puleio

When, and why, to use fresh juice in a stirred drink—bar world axioms be damned.

The cocktail world is no stranger to dogma. A Martini should only ever be served with one or three olives; Manhattans are stirred, not shaken; bitters are not to be jiggered. But turning these dictums on their heads often cracks open new ways of seeing old formulas to lasting effect. Such was the case when a group of renegade bartenders looked to bitters as more than a finishing touch, resulting in drinks like the Ango-heavy Trinidad Sour and Gunshop Fizz. Equally controversial—and just as rewarding—are the drinks that undermine the bar world’s chief axiom: that drinks with fresh juice are shaken, not stirred. 

It’s a practice not without historical precedent. The 1930s-era Algonquin, for example, combines rye, dry vermouth and a half-ounce of pineapple juice, stirred and served up for a Manhattan-like drink by way of the tropics. (Certain dogmatic bartenders opt to shake this drink rather than stir it as originally prescribed.) 

For those inclined to throw old strictures to the wind, pineapple has become a popular juice to incorporate in stirred drinks for its sweetness and rounder texture than lemon or lime alone. Take, for instance, Jessica Gonzalez’s Hot Lips, a stirred take on the Margarita with pineapple, lemon and vanilla syrup stirred with a mezcal and tequila base; or Al Sotack’s South Bronx, a modified Bronx stirred with pineapple and orange juice. “The whole idea of [when to] stir or shake a cocktail is ambiguous,” noted Sotack in a story on the topic last year. So long as the juice remains a small proportion of the total volume of the drink—Sotack specifies about one-eighth of the overall contents—stirring can help the finished cocktail read more like a spirit-forward drink than a sour, which typically calls for three-quarters of an ounce of citrus juice. 

Hot Lips Cocktail Recipe
Recipe

Hot Lips

A smoky-spicy pineapple Margarita.

Recipe

South Bronx

The classic Bronx, stirred not shaken.

Salt and Ash Cocktail Recipe
Recipe

Salt & Ash

An unorthodox recipe that stirs together mezcal, tequila, sweet vermouth and lemon juice.

Despite the challenge of doing so, both Maks Pazuniak and Stephen Cole opt for lemon in their takes on the “stirred with citrus” formula. Pazuniak, who works with Sotack at Brooklyn’s Jupiter Disco, uses a significant measure of lemon—half an ounce—in his Salt & Ash, though it remains a relatively low ratio in relation to the tequila, mezcal, sweet vermouth and additional modifiers that make up the rest of the drink. Cole, meanwhile, adds just a quarter-ounce of lemon to his Cynar- and sweet vermouth–based aperitivo cocktail, the Bitter Giuseppe

An even more minute measure of citrus appears in Kyle Davidson’s The Art of Choke, in which three-quarters of a teaspoon of lime juice is stirred alongside white rum, Cynar and green Chartreuse. “That drink ran against everything I taught him,” recalls Toby Maloney, who trained Davidson at The Violet Hour in Chicago. Despite its unconventional, rule-breaking build, the drink went on to become a crowd favorite. Today, it’s considered a modern classic. 

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Tagged: citrus, cocktails