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Food

How to Garnish a Cocktail With a Citrus Twist

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Apr 6, 2020 • 2 min read

You can use a simple citrus wedge or citrus slice as a cocktail garnish, or you can elevate your garnishing game with a simple citrus twist. Topping off a cocktail with a citrus twist is a great way to add flavor, fragrance, and elegance to a cocktail.

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Lynnette Marrero & Ryan Chetiyawardana Teach MixologyLynnette Marrero & Ryan Chetiyawardana Teach Mixology

World-class bartenders Lynnette and Ryan (aka Mr Lyan) teach you how to make perfect cocktails at home for any mood or occasion.

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How to Make a Basic Citrus Twist in 5 Steps

A basic citrus twist is simply a piece of citrus rind that is bent slightly so it curves up. Though simple to make, the basic twist brings visual appeal to a cocktail, and the citrus oils in the rind add a vivid aroma and extra flavor to your drink. Here’s how to make a basic citrus twist:

  1. Choose a citrus fruit. While lemon and orange twists are the most common types of these stylish citrus garnishes, you can use a lime twist or grapefruit twist if the occasion calls for it. Pick a fruit that's ripe (which makes it easier to peel) and free of bruises or blemishes.
  2. Wash the fruit. Thoroughly wash the citrus with cold water, then dry it.
  3. Cut out a thin oval-shaped slice of peel. Using either a vegetable peeler or a sharp knife (ideally a paring knife), place your citrus on a cutting board and cut out an oval-shaped thin slice of citrus peel. You should only be cutting off the rind, not the actual fruit. Make sure your peel still has a small amount of white pith so that it isn't too flimsy.
  4. Express the citrus oils. Hold the citrus peel over your cocktail so that the outer rind is facing down toward the cocktail. Pinch the peel in half horizontally so that it forms a little citrus peel taco shell with the pith on the inside and rind on the outside. This creates a mist of oil that settles on the surface of your cocktail.
  5. Add the peel to the drink. Rub the peel along the rim of the glass, then drop the peel into the cocktail to finish it off.

How to Make a Spiral Citrus Twist in 5 Steps

For a stylish garnish, try making a spiral citrus twist. It may be a trickier perfect than a traditional citrus garnish, but its playful corkscrew shape livens up the look of any cocktail. Here’s how to make a spiral citrus twist:

  1. Choose a citrus fruit. Pick citrus fruit that's ripe (which makes it easier to peel) and free of bruises and blemishes.
  2. Wash the fruit. Thoroughly wash the citrus with cold water, then dry it.
  3. Cut out a long, skinny strip of peel. To make a spiral twist we recommend using a channel knife (commonly found in the middle of a zester's blade). Firmly place the channel knife's notch against the rind, cutting into it slightly. Then, slowly rotate your citrus fruit to create a long, thin strip of peel around six inches long. Keep your cut shallow enough that you don’t slice into the white pith.
  4. Tighten the spiral. Once you have your long strip of peel, wrap it around the handle of a bar spoon or a skewer and hold it there for a few seconds. Once you remove it, you'll notice your spiral curls will be even tighter.
  5. Place the twist onto the rim of the glass. The citrus twist spiral should hang partially inside and partially outside the cocktail glass.
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Learn more about mixology from award-winning bartenders. Refine your palate, explore the world of spirits, and shake up the perfect cocktail for your next gathering with the MasterClass All-Access Pass.

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