The Art of Zesting for the Perfect Cocktail

Knowing how to properly zest and make the most of your citrus’s peel will completely change the way that you make gourmet drinks at home.

Knowing how to properly zest and make the most of your citrus’s peel will completely change the way that you make gourmet drinks at home.

A couple of weeks ago we covered the art of shaking the perfect cocktail. We went over some basic steps in what seems, at the surface level, to be a fairly simple, routine process. However, if you love to make gourmet drinks, then you know that there are no ‘simple’ or ‘routine’ practices in creating a cocktail.

Add to your favorite cocktail to create a delicious drink.

Add to your favorite cocktail to create a delicious drink.

This week, we’d like to cover the art of zesting. Knowing how to properly zest and make the most of your citrus’s peel will completely change the way that you make gourmet drinks at home.

Why Zest

Zesting is a great way to infuse your drinks with citrus flavor. But why not just squeeze the citrus into your drink, you wonder? Well, zesting allows you to get a delicious citrus flavor without getting the liquid of the citrus (or citrus drink syrup). As much as we love our fresh lime drink syrup, sometimes we prefer to have lime taste without the extra liquid. Also, lime zest doesn’t have the exact same taste as limejuice. A citrus’s zest has subtleties that you won’t find in the citrus’s juice.

How to Zest

When it comes to zesting, you’ve got two options. One, you can use an actual zester to pull those fine ribbons of citrus right off the fruit. Two, you can use a paring knife to slice larger, broader sections of fruit (the method we’re rather partial toward). Cut a long ribbon, wrap it around a clean pencil or bar spoon handle, and then drop in the glass for a fancy garnish!

Bonus Zesting Skill: Flaming Citrus

Once you’ve got your basic zesting down, you might want to try flaming a citrus peel. To flame a citrus peel, first cut a round slice of peel off an orange or lemon (quarter to half-dollar in size). Hold the zest in one hand and a lit match over the cocktail in the other hand. (Definitely use long kitchen matches or kindling with this trick when starting out!) Pass the zest, held between thumb and forefinger, over the lit match several times, warming the oils and bringing them out to the surface. Then, quickly snap your fingers, spritzing the citrus oil out and over the flame so that it ignites, lands in the cocktail, and extinguishes! Easy, right?

Getting this flaming citrus trick down takes some time and practice – make that [sober] time and [sober] practice! Be careful and have fun as you make gourmet drinks and build up your flair bartending skills!

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