The Hot List: Winter Citrus

When the weather gets cold and the days short, a shot of liquid sunshine can make winter seem a little more bearable.

Unfortunately, many people assume that citrus fruit is just in season during the summer. Actually, a number of varieties are ripe right now, including sweet clementines, zesty Meyer lemons, kumquats and more. And they all work wonderfully in cocktails: Think of warm mulled wine with clove, cinnamon and orange notes, or a quaffable brunch Mimosa.

For instance, my Citrus 75 is a tasty combination of clementine juice, homemade limoncello, fresh lemon juice and honey syrup. It’s finished with a splash of refreshing bubbly, which adds a festive air.

You can also find towering piles of alluring ruby red grapefruits in stores this time of year. I love what their brightness brings to a classic Negroni (pictured above). I’ve played around with the recipe’s traditional measurements to create a Grapefruit Negroni, which is a bit less bitter than the original drink but is still a delicious aperitif.

Of course, we all know citrus as a garnish—twists and wheels grace many a tipple. But a light dusting of fresh zest lends any concoction a great pop of flavor and aroma.

So shake off those cold-weather cares and shake up some sunny citrus sips!

Citrus 75

Contributed by Kathy Casey


  • Half a clementine
  • 1.5 oz Hendrick’s Gin
  • .5 oz Homemade Limoncello*
  • .75 oz Fresh lemon juice
  • .5 oz Honey syrup (one part honey, one part water)
  • 1 oz Moet & Chandon Impérial Champagne, chilled
  • Garnish: Lemon twist or clementine slice
  • Glass: Martini

In a shaker, muddle the clementine. Add the remaining ingredients except the Champagne and fill with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a Martini glass. Add a splash of champagne and garnish with a lemon twist or a thin slice of clementine.


*Homemade Limoncello

  • 3 Lemons
  • 12 oz Citrus vodka
  • .75 cups Sugar
  • 4 oz Water

Peel the zest from the lemons, being sure not to get any white pith. (Reserve the rest of the lemon for another use.) Place the zest in a clean 1-quart glass jar with a lid. Add the vodka, seal and shake well. Let stand at room temperature for 1 week, shaking every couple days. Strain into a bottle or other container.

Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Boil for 2 minutes, remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Add to the vodka, seal tightly and store at room temperature for up to 3 months or in the refrigerator for up to 1 year.

Grapefruit Negroni

Contributed by Kathy Casey


  • 1 Long, wide slice of grapefruit peel
  • 2 Peeled ruby red grapefruit segments (or 1 oz fresh ruby red grapefruit juice)
  • 1.5 oz Gin
  • 1 oz Sweet vermouth
  • .5 oz Campari
  • Glass: Old Fashioned

Fill an Old Fashioned glass with ice, curl the grapefruit peel around the inside of the glass and set aside. Squeeze the grapefruit segments into a shaker and drop in the fruit. Add the remaining ingredients and fill with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into the prepared glass.

Kathy Casey is a celebrity chef, mixologist and entertaining expert. Catch her on Kathy Casey’s Liquid Kitchen, on Twitter,on her blog Dishing with Kathy Casey or on her Sips & Apps page on Facebook.

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  1. Blood oranges and meyer lemons are divine this time of year as are the Kumquats! Blood orange syrup should be in any winter tikiphile’s repertoire.

  2. Orange bitter liqueur is always in season! Inspired by a trip to St. George Spirits, The Winter Sun is sure to keep you warm:

  3. Amazing cocktail! I would love to link to it on Zenspotting. Would that be ok?

  4. Lisa Montalva says

    I had a gathering last weekend at my home and made these for a group of 20! It was spectacular.

    Lisa aka The Gourmet Mom

  5. Craig Toone says

    Blood orange works just aswell in a Negroni too, simply substitute in the above recipe and imbibe!

  6. Midwest Imbiber says

    As we speak, I am drinking a clementine negroni — just a classic negroni to which I have added the (fresh) juice of one clementine and a dash of orange bitters. Perfect! The tastiest cocktail I have had in quite a while, if I do say so myself…

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