Fresh Fruit Juice In Cocktails

8th January 2024

Facing a large party or in search of convenience, the cocktail connoisseur can be tempted by bottled juices. They boast impressive shelf lives, simplicity and no messy fruit peels to contend with. However, in a battle of flavour, there is no contest. Fresh juice will always yield a more delicious, refined cocktail. While it is a difficult sensation to describe, the taste difference between fresh and bottled juices is noticeable. Taste tests regularly prove that people prefer fresh juice over bottled, powdered or frozen alternatives. Cocktails are crisper, cleaner and more full-bodied when fresh juice is used.The key difference between fresh and bottled juices is oxidation, the same chemical reaction responsible for turning cut apples brown. When fruit juice is exposed to the open air, oxygen reacts with certain compounds within the juice. This is called oxidation. Oxidation rapidly breaks down substances like enzymes, phytochemicals and flavonoids that are responsible for a juice's "fresh" flavour.

Bottled juices that are pasteurised are also exposed to heat and other sanitation methods that, while they extend the product's shelf life, destroy critical flavour compounds. Many people also claim that the preservatives and additives in bottled juices compromise their pure flavour. Concentrated juices go through a similar flavour-eradicating process, and frozen juices are not only concentrated but have also suffered damage from the formation of ice crystals.

Juicing fruit at home is easier than it sounds. A simple citrus reamer and strainer are perfect for single cocktails. For parties, there is no need to stand in the kitchen juicing lemon after lemon immediately before the guests arrive. Properly chilled, fresh juice will keep its full flavour for about ten hours.

Those that drink cocktails or host parties on a regular basis might consider purchasing an electric juicer. Masticating or triturating models, or those that "chew" the fruit rather than using spinning blades, produce a superior juice. They minimise the juice's exposure to air, therefore reducing oxidation.

Using fresh juice is not about being picky. It is about getting the best possible flavour out of your cocktails. The switch from bottled to fresh juice is the difference between a good cocktail and a magnificent one.

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Bartender's top tip

A well-chosen garnish can enhance both the flavor and appearance of your cocktail. Beyond the visual appeal, garnishes like citrus twists, olives, or cocktail onions can subtly influence the overall taste profile of your drink. Practice techniques like expressing a citrus peel to release the aromatic oils over the drink, enhancing its aroma and flavor.

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