The Key to Better At-Home Cocktails During COVID-19

In the midst of all the heavy-hitting COVID-19 news, we thought we’d offer you some levity—in the form of cocktails, of course!

Megan Coyle, of DC’s Reveler’s Hour, shares some innovative tips on making better drinks at home while we’re all sheltering in place.

The first concept we’re sharing is a recipe for an easy Citrus Cordial. Whether it’s trying to minimize flavor divergence in a high-volume cocktail bar, or simply to extend the life of some “on the verge” citrus at home, citrus cordials are an important, and easy, trick of the trade.

citrus cordial coronavirus cocktail recipes

Citrus Cordial
1 cup orange juice (about 3-4 oranges)
1 1/2 cups lemon juice (about 7-8 lemons)
Peels from all lemons and oranges used (be careful not to get too much of the pith when peeling)
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon citric acid (Optional!)

Bring the juices along with the peels to a rolling boil. Slowly add all dry ingredients. Return to rolling boil, then reduce to an active simmer. Let cook for 20 minutes. Strain, allow to cool, and store in a clean, airtight container. Will keep in the refrigerator for about three weeks.

Below, Megan explains why this is a great tool to have in your arsenal right now, along with three ways to incorporate it into make-at-home libations.

What are the benefits of incorporating a citrus cordial into an at-home bar?

Megan: While sometimes fresh juice is best, cordials are a long-lasting and versatile ingredient. They will have a more weighty texture due to the cooking and addition of sugar, making the need for other sweeteners greatly reduced. They also have a lovely balancing bitterness due to exposure to heat and the utilization of the peeled outer layer of zest.

How can you use it at home?

Megan: The versatility of cordials, especially ones with mixed base fruits, is extraordinary. I love this one, utilizing a blend of lemon and orange. It is sweet, tart, and richly textured. Use it as a base for a nonalcoholic, fizzy, surprisingly deep lemonade, a base for sours (egg optional), or Tom Collins variants.

Q: Can it be used in anything other than a cocktail?

Megan: It can be used in cooking to augment citrusy dips (add some crushed red pepper flakes and use it to dip shrimp toast or egg rolls) or marinades and glazes (add some chili powder and cumin for tequila\citrus cordial glazed chicken). I have also occasionally added some toasted baking spices to the cordial while it is cooking to give it some winter holiday panache.

How long will it keep?

Megan: The best thing about cordials, the main argument for them, is their longevity. If properly stored, they will last for weeks in the refrigerator. This means that when you realize there is no way you are going to use that whole bag of lemons you bought on sale at the grocer, or the clutch of oranges that came in your CSA, they can be preserved.

Here are some recipe ideas that incorporate citrus cordial:

Citrus Sparkler

1.5 oz Egan’s Vintage Grain*
Citrus Cordial to taste, about 1 oz
Stir to incorporate

Build in tall glass. Add fizzy water of your choosing. Garnish with fresh herbs (basil, lemon balm, rosemary, etc). Feel free to make it booze-free. This is a lovely 0% ABV refresher.


Green Sour

1oz Cocalero Clásico
.5 oz Citrus Cordial
.5 oz Pineapple juice (if unavailable just increase the cordial to .75 oz)
1 egg white (or .75 oz aqua fava for an egg free version)

Combine all ingredients in shaker tin, dry shake hard. Add ice. Shake hard until fluffy. Double strain into large coupe. Sprinkle powdered matcha and\or powdered cacao nibs on top, or create a design in the foam using The Bitter Truth Chocolate Bitters.


Poitin Muddle

1 tsp cacao nibs
.5 oz Citrus Cordial
Orange peel
3 solid dashes of The Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas’ Own Decanter Bitters

Muddle all these ingredients together in a flat bottomed, rocks glass. Add 1.5 oz Mad March Hare Poitin. Stir. Add ice. Stir 30 to 50 times round for best dilution.