Take a libation lesson on lemons.
Drink Your Vitamins
Sorry Screwdriver, that orange juice isn’t the only citrus packing a healthy dose of vitamin C in each sip. Say hello to Tom Collins or saddle up to a Sidecar. These lemon-centric cocktails have a health benefit, too: One quarter cup of lemon juice contains over 30 percent of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C, an antioxidant and immune booster.
Not all lemons are created equal. Look for bright yellow skin on the thin side for squeezing and a bit thicker for zesting or peeling. Bartender Laura Wareing from Maggie’s Farm in Middleton uses fresh- squeezed lemon juice in a variety of cocktails and has a method for extracting maximum juice: “Let them warm to room temperature, roll them around a bit on a cutting board or counter, cut, and squeeze.” A medium-sized lemon equals about one and a half ounces of juice. Lots of lemon juice? Pour into ice cube trays, freeze, and use later to liven up water, tea, or a vodka tonic.
Shaken, Not Stirred
If there’s one thing a good bartender knows, it’s when to shake and when to stir. The general rule of thumb when it comes to cocktails containing citrus: Shake it like you mean it. Vigorous shaking creates air bubbles that react with citrus oils, making the flavors taste brighter and less bitter. This simple act of aeration is a key scientific component to a killer citrus cocktail.
“Lemons give a great flavor to and complement many different spirits,” says Wareing. In the bartending world, there’s a basic template for building a “sour” drink that’s easy to replicate. Grab a shaker and combine two parts liquor, one part citrus, and a half part simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water, boiled until dissolved and cooled). Try versions like the Whiskey Sour (bourbon or Scotch, lemon juice, simple syrup) and Lemon Drop (vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup). Wareing’s twist on the latter uses blueberry-flavored vodka and Italian Limoncello to create a luscious, lemony treat—the perfect balance of sour and sweet. maggiesfarmmiddleton.com
Blueberry Lemon Drop
1 1/2 oz. Triple Eight Blueberry Vodka
1/2 oz. Limoncello
1/2 oz. Lemon juice
Splash simple syrup
Shake all ingredients over ice in a shaker. Pour into sugar-rimmed martini glass. Garnish with a lemon wheel.