6 Cocktails Celebrating In-Season Citrus Fruits

The very thought of winter is enough to make most of us want to hibernate for the next several months. Doing so means you’ll miss out on a lot of great cocktail opportunities because many citrus fruits are now in season, so crawl back out from under those covers. Blood oranges, red grapefruit, meyer lemons and more of these tangy fruits taste like a shining beacon of happiness during this otherwise bleak time of year.

Curious as to why we haven’t mentioned limes? This type of tart citrus is actually at its peak during the warmer months, including tiny Key limes.  But never fear, these six cocktails are more than delicious enough to make up for the green fruit’s absence. They’re also shockingly easy to make. Happy sipping.

1. Campari and Blood Orange Cocktail

blood orange juice and sliced oranges on a wooden background

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With a flavor that’s slightly less acidic and a bit more bitter than your standard glass of OJ, blood oranges are a refreshing way to change up a basic cocktail. Try it out with Bobby Flay’s simple citrus cocktail, featured on Food Network. A little bit of Campari plays off the bitter notes in the orange and helps retain the vivid red color. If you don’t already have a signature winter drink, this might be it.

Ingredients:

  • Ice cubes
  • 1 ounce Campari
  • 4 ounces blood orange juice
  • Orange soda
  • Thin blood orange slice
  • Mint sprig

Directions: Put ice cubes in a rocks glass. Add Campari, orange juice, and a splash of the soda. Don’t mix, or it will become too fizzy. Garnish with an orange slice and a mint sprig. Serve.

2. The Charleston Fizz

grapefruit cocktail

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Many grapefruit cocktails call for the white variety. There’s nothing wrong with that, but the brightly hued ones deserve just as much attention. Let the Ruby Red grapefruit shine in this aromatic cocktail from Saveur. A little bit of tarragon pairs wonderfully with the tart fruit and highlights the layered flavor in the gin. If you can’t find fresh tarragon at your store, try using some of the leafy tops from a fennel bulb.

Ingredients:

  • 3 fresh tarragon sprigs plus additional leaves
  • 2 ounces gin
  • 3 ounces Ruby Red grapefruit juice
  • ½ ounce elderflower liqueur
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • Club soda
  • Grapefruit slices

Directions: Muddle tarragon in a cocktail shaker. Fill shaker with ice, then add gin, juice, liqueur, and simple syrup. Shake vigorously to combine and strain into a Collins glass filled with ice. Top with club soda and garnish with grapefruit slices and tarragon leaves. Serve.

3. Pomelo-Mint Mojito

Mojito cocktail and cashews on table in rooftop bar

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The pomelo might be the most neglected fruit in the entire produce section. They look like an overgrown grapefruit with a super thick rind, which can seem a little bit intimidating. If you give it a chance, it can make a mighty fine cocktail. We like this twist on a mojito from Food & Wine. Pomelos are slightly drier than most other citrus, so muddling the fruit is a great way to extract as much flavor as possible.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lime wedge
  • Club soda
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate or orange sorbet
  • Ice
  • 6 mint leaves
  • 4 peeled sections of pomelo, chopped
  • 1½ ounces white rum

Directions: In a cocktail shaker, muddle pomelo, mint, and orange juice concentrate. Add rum and ice and shake well. Pour into a highball glass. Top with club soda and garnish with a lime wedge.

4. Cranberry Clementine Cocktail

orange cocktail with vodka and grenadine

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For reasons we don’t entirely understand, someone determined the best way to sell clementines was by the case. Though they taste great by themselves, you’re bound to wind up with extras long after you’ve had your fill. Instead of letting them shrivel up, turn them into a festive winter cocktail with this recipe from Two Tarts. The best part is there are only four ingredients, three if you skip the sparkling water.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces freshly squeezed clementine juice
  • 2 ounces cranberry juice
  • 1½ ounces vodka
  • Sparkling water

Directions: Combine both juices and vodka in a shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously until drink is thoroughly chilled, then strain into a glass. Add a splash of sparkling water, if desired, and garnish with a sprig of juniper. Serve.

5. Meyer Lemon Whiskey Sour

trio of cocktails with citrus fruits on a white background

Source: iStock

Most people have probably heard of Meyer lemons by now because chefs and other food professional go a little bit nuts when they become available every year. Shelling out extra cash to buy a lemon you don’t know how to use seems silly, so you may as well have a plan and we can’t think of a better one than making cocktails. Go for The Kitchn’s Meyer Lemon Whiskey Sour.

Because the fruit itself is so fragrant, you only need a few other ingredients to turn out a fantastic drink. A maraschino cherry might make a cute garnish, but your cocktail deserves better. Go for the richer, chewier type of cherries from Luxardo, Italy. They make a good drink great.

Ingredients:

  • 1½ ounces whiskey
  • 1 ounce freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
  • ¼ to ½ ounce simply syrup
  • Maraschino cherry

Directions: Combine whiskey, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously to combine, then strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry and serve.

6. Tangerine-Ginger Caipirinhas

tangerine cocktail with fresh tangerines

Source: iStock

Not everyone’s a total whiz when it comes to shaking cocktails, but even the least experienced can muddle with the best of them. Try out the simple technique with Epicurious’ tangerine and ginger drink. It’s a twist on a classic Brazilian drink that uses tangerines in place of limes. Breaking with tradition never tasted so good.

Ingredients:

  • 3 small chopped and seeded tangerines
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated peeled ginger
  • ¾ cup tangerine juice
  • 1½ cups cachaça

Directions: Divide tangerines among six tumblers. Add 2 teaspoons of sugar and ½ teaspoon ginger to each glass. Use a muddler or the end of a wooden spoon to muddle ingredients in the bottom of each glass. Top each drink with 2 tablespoons of juice and ¼ cup cachaça . Fill glasses with ice cubes, stir, and serve.

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