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Citrus Twists


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I have a question about citrus twists used as garnishes. I don't tend bar, so my experience is just with the cocktails I make at home. Unless I'm having a party, I just grab the channel knife and cut the twist right when I need it. So far, no problem.

When I make twists in advance for a party, though, it's a different story. I was taught by a bartender friend to cut a lemon rind into twists, so I know how to do it, but it always seems like they don't produce much oil after sitting around a while. Is there any way to keep precut twists fresher?

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You can keep them covered with a damp paper napkin until the party actually starts, but you should probably uncover them at that point since they won't look too good.

I have a problem with you using a channel knife, though! :smile: Better to use a paring knife or something similar in order to get wider twists, and therefore, far more essential oils. They might not be quite as pretty, but they'lll do a better job for you.

“The practice is to commence with a brandy or gin ‘cocktail’ before breakfast, by way of an appetizer. Subsequently, a ‘digester’ will be needed. Then, in due course and at certain intervals, a ‘refresher,’ a ‘reposer,’ a ‘settler,’ a ‘cooler,’ an ‘invigorator,’ a ‘sparkler,’ and a ‘rouser,’ pending the final ‘nightcap,’ or midnight dram.” Life and Society in America by Samuel Phillips Day. Published by Newman and Co., 1880.

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How wide are we talking here?

I have some lovely Wüstof knives and I actually appreciate the cheapie channel knife we got from a restaurant supply store more when zesting. Perhaps it is the smaller cutting surface ratio limiting potential injury -- perceived or actual! :raz:

As seen in the eGCI: (with my boss doing double duty standing in as a subject and hand model :biggrin: )

evolvingcocktails31_DCE.jpg

evolvingcocktails32_DCE.jpg

However I can see the benefits of a wider zest when doing them in advance to compensate for the essential oils that will forever be lost if not done to order, a la minute, over the cocktail.

Then there's those that really dig that little bit of brightened flavour to be more pronounced. Sometimes I'm that such person! :biggrin:

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I've just realized--after looking at your photograph--that there's another problem with the channel knife. It doesn't cut deep enough. You need a decent amount of the white inner pith on the back of a twist to make it sturdy enough to twist properly. I'd bet that the twist in the pic would render almost no oils, even when freshly cut--it's just too limp. Sorry, but that's how I see it :smile:

As for how wide should a twist be, I cut mine from top to bottom of the fruit, and I make them as wide as possible. This varies depending on the size of the lemon, of course, but I like my twists to be at least 1/2", if not close to 3/4" wide if possible.

“The practice is to commence with a brandy or gin ‘cocktail’ before breakfast, by way of an appetizer. Subsequently, a ‘digester’ will be needed. Then, in due course and at certain intervals, a ‘refresher,’ a ‘reposer,’ a ‘settler,’ a ‘cooler,’ an ‘invigorator,’ a ‘sparkler,’ and a ‘rouser,’ pending the final ‘nightcap,’ or midnight dram.” Life and Society in America by Samuel Phillips Day. Published by Newman and Co., 1880.

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I can definitely see your point, Gary. I think the problem I've had with cutting twists in advance is not getting them thick enough; hence, not enough peel to actually twist for the oils.

The main reason I like using a channel knife for my own drinks is that I can cut off a strip as I need it and still keep the lemon intact for future use. I cut the strip right over the glass, which makes for a pretty healthy spritz of oil as I cut. But you're certainly correct that in such a case you don't end up with something you can actually twist.

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Actually, there is sufficient pith to support them being tied into knots. This too is a garnish for one of our seafood plates and our kitchen uses them to make the strips of lemon zest to knot.

I thought that bitterness of the white citrus pith is most undesirable, no?

Thin? I've done thinner, without any apparent pith, with a paring knife that I kinked into Martha Stewart tight spirals around a pencil (think corkscrew like pig tails) and they were plenty strong and oily! Although thinking back about fussing this much over them I may have had more essential oil on my fingers and pencil than what made it into the drink.... doh! :wacko::raz:

edit: Durn it! Poor proofing and the typos have plagued my typing efforts the *whole* day! :angry:

Edited by beans (log)
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Yes, the white inner pith is bitter, but it doesn't flavor the drink--honest.

“The practice is to commence with a brandy or gin ‘cocktail’ before breakfast, by way of an appetizer. Subsequently, a ‘digester’ will be needed. Then, in due course and at certain intervals, a ‘refresher,’ a ‘reposer,’ a ‘settler,’ a ‘cooler,’ an ‘invigorator,’ a ‘sparkler,’ and a ‘rouser,’ pending the final ‘nightcap,’ or midnight dram.” Life and Society in America by Samuel Phillips Day. Published by Newman and Co., 1880.

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