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February 22, 2021

Experts' Experts — Do different ways of using citrus peel to garnish cocktails produce different tastes?

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Above, a question that appeared in Cook's Illustrated's Notes From Readers section.

The good people at that magazine — as obsessive a group as ever existed outside Jony Ive's secret studio in Cupertino — drilled down deep to enlighten us, as follows:

There are three common citrus garnishes for cocktails: The first is a "twist, " a simple disk of citrus peel that is squeezed into the drink to release essential oils and then rubbed around the rim of the glass and discarded.

The second is a "flamed twist," in which a flame is held between the drink and the peel so that when the peel is squeezed, its oils ignite briefly.

The third type is a "swatch," a band of zest with a little pith attached that is twirled and placed in the drink.

We made all three types of garnishes with orange peel and tasted each in a simple Negroni cocktail.

We found that the twist contributed bright orange notes that enlivened the drink.

The flamed twist offered sulfurous undertones and had a somewhat subdued orange fragrance.

The swath added citrus notes along with mild bitterness from the pith.

In sum, fancy citrus garnishes are more than just ornamental: Your choice should hinge on the flavor profile you're trying to create.

February 22, 2021 at 12:01 PM | Permalink


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