How does Citric acid and Lime Oil Compare to Real Limes in Cocktails?

by | Oct 20, 2014 | Mixology | 3 comments

In the past, we have used citric acid in cocktails as a way of substituting the acid of lemon and lime in a cocktail. What we found out from that experiment was the conversion factor of powdered citric acid to fresh lemon juice and the fact that the lemon juice helps to cover up the taste of alcohol in cocktails. This time we are adding essential oil of lime into the mix to see how it stacks up against the reals stuff, and also throwing in the plastic bottle of lime juice as a comparison.

Using Essential Oils:

Note: Essential oils can be harmful as they can be a antimicrobial (Think about the cleaning power of orange oil). Make sure to do your research and only use food grade essential oils that are meant for human consumption. Darcy O’Neills Fix the Pump has some information about incorporating essential oils into cocktails.

I find that the best way to experiment between different cocktails is to taste them side by side. This time we will be tasting a fresh lime juice Daquiri next to a citric acid and lime essential oil Daquiri and we are going to compare them to the lime juice you by in a green plastic bottle.

The Experiment:

1. Fresh Daiquiri

The recipe that I am using for this is :

1.50 oz Light Rum

1.0 oz lime juice

.50 oz Rich Simple Syrup

Shake all ingredients with ice and fine strain into a coupe glass

2. Citric Acid and Essential Lime Oil Daiquiri

The recipe for the citric acid Daquiri:

1.50 oz Light Rum

1.0 oz Citric acid solution (1.5 oz water with 1/4 teaspoon citric acid powder. I added a pinch more to increase the acidity)

3 drops food grade lime essential oil

.50 oz Rich Simple Syrup

Shake all ingredients with ice and fine strain into a coupe glass

3. Plastic Lime Juice Daiquiri

The recipe for the plastic lime juice Daquiri:

1.50 oz Light Rum

1.0 oz Plastic lime juice

.50 oz Rich Simple Syrup

Shake all ingredients with ice and fine strain into a coupe glass

The Taste Test

I started off with the plastic lime juice Daquiri, for no other reason than to get the worst cocktail behind me. I wasn’t really expecting much as far as taste, and I was definitely not surprised. The bitter notes of lime were very aggressive as well as the increased acidity. There was a synthetic, or plastic, taste to the drink that lingered with every sip. In a nutshell, it was horrible.

Now to taste the citric acid / lime oil Daquiri. The first thing I noticed was that the acid taste was not as sharp as I was expecting, so I added a pinch more citric acid to the cocktail which helped out considerably. Now that I had the acid correct, I added essential lime oil drop by drop until it achieved the flavor that I was looking for. It took around 3 drops for the flavor to come through. Since this is an oil, make sure to shake it to incorporate it into the drink. I dry shook the oil, then added ice to chill.

The taste was much better than the green plastic bottle, but the flavor of the lime didn’t come through until the very end. You definitely get the acid of the lime juice, but the depth of flavor is very different from the fresh lime juice Daquiri.

The fresh lime Daquiri was without a doubt the best of the line up, but it provided a really good baseline to judge the others by. I will say that tasting this after the previous 2 Daquiris’ I noticed a lot more nuances and flavors from the lime juice that I probably would have missed before. The fresh lime juice has a nice bright acidity in the beginning and the bitter and slightly herbal flavor of the lime juice evolves slowly throughout the cocktail.

The Conclusion:

There is no doubt that fresh is best, but sometimes experimentation can bring unexpected discoveries. This was something that happened with our initial citric acid post.

Are you currently working with Citric Acid behind your bar? I’d love to hear how it’s going, leave a comment below.