CITRUS! Great stuff. Lemons and oranges, and so on. Perfect for cocktails, provided you're into the fresh-sour-ish stuff. A Whiskey Sour is impossible without citrus. A margarita without citrus is possible, but why would you do that? WHY?! Just use citrus!
Because they are an essential part of the cocktail industry, here are 10 facts for you:
#1. There are about a hundred types of citrus.
There are, of course, your standard lemons, limes, grapefruits and oranges. But don't forget blood oranges, ruby red grapefruits, mandarins, tangerines, clementines, kaffir limes, finger limes, rangpur limes, jaimacan tangelos, kumquats, pomelos, yuzzus, buddha's hands & kinnows!
#2. All 100 citrus species descend from only 3 natural citrus fruits.
True story. Practically all citrus fruits in existence today have been combined, bred and genetically manipulated over the years to achieve the best quality, colour and juice-to-flesh ratio.
The 3 OG's in the citrus world are: the Pomelo, the Citron & the Mandarin.
#3. Citrus has been around for over 15 million years and originated in China.
FIFTEEN MILLION-YEARS. That's a long time. And until a thousand years ago, citrus grew only in China and parts of South East Asia. Through colonization, lemons and oranges have found their way to all the other warm parts of the world, where they grew just as fast as on Asian soil.
#4. Christopher Columbus brought the first orange to North America.
#5. But James Cook is responsible for the world's love of citrus.
James Cook, you know, that world traveller who put New Zealand, Australia and Hawaii on the map. He was one of the few who believed that citrus could prevent scurvy, forced his crew to drink citrus every day and proved to the whole world that it did indeed work: in three years' time, he never lost a crew member to scurvy. As a result, citrus was sold in every port in the world and then distributed by the sailors in every city.
#6. Citrus is a winter fruit.
Fancy that! You would think that the fact that those fresh-sour cocktails are especially popular in summer and that citrus grows in warm places would make it a summer fruit. But nothing could be further from the truth: the high season for any citrus fruit is winter!
#7. The 'pith' of citrus fruit is extremely healthy.
That white part between the peel and the flesh? It contains a lot of vitamin C, but also fibres and antioxidants! Chew it.
#8. The first cocktail ever made also contained citrus.
If you have ever attended a workshop with me, you will know that the first cocktail ever made was the PUNCH. It was the British sailors who, on a daily basis, mixed alcohol, spices, citrus, sugar and water to make drinking more enjoyable and thus created the cocktail.
#9. Citrus is flammable.
BEWARE! Don't hold your lemon over a flame for more than 10 seconds, and don't squeeze it. LIFE-THREATENING. Alright alright, it's not sooo flammable and dangerous. But it makes for a spectacular garnish! It is the oils in the citrus peel that become flammable when heated long enough. Just ask your local cocktail bartender to show you how. He'll love it!
#10. Do NOT keep citrus fruit in the fridge.
Some of you may already know this, but it still needs to be said for the rest: there is no need to keep citrus fruit in the fridge. Think about it. Your supermarket doesn't do it either. At room temperature, the fruit ripens just inside its skin, so a few days after purchase you will get even more juice out of your little lime.