Through many a wasted shot of liquor in failed attempts at making cocktails, I stumbled upon a trick that often turns a so-so cocktail into a “This is delightful!” cocktail. The secret is fresh citrus peel. A simple twist of citrus peel adds essential oils and a burst of flavor onto the surface of the cocktail, enhancing its “nose” or “scent.”
As you take your first sip, the fresh citrus aroma from the glass primes the palate. To make a twist, slice off a strip of citrus peel with a paring knife or vegetable peeler and gently squeeze it over a cocktail before serving. Lemon and orange are the most universal and will go with just about any spirit. Lime, grapefruit, and tangerine are a little more tricky, but should be used as an accent to any cocktail that contains those juices.
Recently I gave up the beloved maraschino cherry in my Manhattan and substituted it with a simple strip of orange peel. It has added richness and complexity to the drink and is slowly becoming a favorite. My suggestion is to make a few of your favorite go-to cocktails and finish them by squeezing a swatch of citrus peel over the surface of the drink–you may become hooked. One problem may arise though: You can end up with a bunch of naked lemons, limes, and oranges in your fridge. The solution: Squeeze the juice and freeze in a ice cube tray. That way, you can thaw it out later and use it in punches or other cocktails. Cheers!
Learn How To Make a Lemon Twist Garnish