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Is The Juice Worth The Squeeze? Fresh Citrus Juice Alternatives

Rich Uncle Pennybags stealing limes

While muggles complain about skyrocketing gas prices, bartenders watch as fresh citrus juice steadily becomes liquid gold.

If not for the cocktail renaissance (and its focus on fresh ingredients), you probably wouldn’t be reading this.

But, as limes encroach on the $200/case mark, what if there was a better way? Instead of needing one lime to make one daiquiri…what if one lime made seven?!

Thinking Outside the Case

Inflation is rampant with no signs of going back. Gas is the highest we’ve ever seen it, grocery is up 15-20% and housing is pretty much a pipe dream for youth at this point. Bar owners/managers have to think outside the box on how to cut costs.

One of the ways to do this is to make a dent in the day-to-day bills that bog down the bank account. More specifically, this means trimming your cost of goods sold. On a micro level, this is the citrus budget for your bar.

The Problem With Fresh Citrus

Lemons/limes/oranges are essentially the lifeblood of a cocktail establishment and have been for over a hundred years now. But…

1) You’re only using the juice; while the skin, rich in flavourful essential oils, is wasted.

2) You can’t store it because oxidization happens fast and degrades the flavour (the acid in citrus responsible for the oxidization is called succinic acid 🤓 ).

3) Breaking the bank!! With this recent spike in citrus costs, cocktail lists are in danger of being “loss leaders” instead of margin makers.

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Sustainable Bartending

Bartenders recently have implemented a softer global footprint on waste and sustainability. They have accomplished this using chemical extracts and powders to stretch the yield of smaller orders of citrus. This isn’t a new theory as bartenders’ duties as far back as the late 1800s included preparing citrus cordials and liqueurs to elongate the shelf life because modern refrigeration was not a thing yet. Others have tinkered with boiling spent citrus and making a “stock” so to speak to upcycle otherwise wasted product. 

Enter “Super Juice,” brainchild of Louisville’s Expo Bar owner Nick Morris, which uses citric acid and malic acid (naturally occurring extracts from citrus & apples) to utilize the entire fruit and extend shelf life.

This video below shows where bars will be going in the next coming years. This is not a tinfoil hat theory, I do believe this is the future of bartending. Using citric acid and malic acid (naturally occurring extracts from citrus & apples) you can dramatically shave your food cost and create a more stable juice that requires a bit of prep labor but will pay dividends in the company bank account. 

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Nathan Caudle

Nathan Caudle

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