In most of the bars and restaurants that I have worked in there has always been a conversation about whether we should use fresh squeezed juices in our beverage program or purchase fresh pasteurized juices. I’ll be completely honest and say that I’ve used both. There are benefits and drawbacks to both types of juice, but in this post we will be focusing on the taste and using a few tools to help us take a closer look at the sugar and acid levels of each.

The Experiment:

The Tools:

  • pH Meter for acidity
  • Refractometer for sugar levels

Test Results:

1. Sugar Content

According to the refractometer, there was very little measurable difference between the sugar content of the fresh vs pasteurized lime juice. 8.3% brix to 8.1% brix, respectively.

2. pH Level

The pH meter measured a .23 difference between the pH of pasteurized lime juice and fresh lime juice, with fresh lime juice being more acidic.

Taste Test:

This is the test that really matters for our guests. How do they compare in cocktails?

In order to do a true comparison, for science, I made 2 Margarita’s and tasted them next to each other.

The fresh lime juice Margarita had bright, focused acidity and vegetal, citrus aromas that I always associate with lime juice.

The pasteurized lime juice Margarita was much sweeter than the fresh lime juice Margarita, even though I used the same exact recipe. The fact that the pasteurized lime juice contained less acid may be the reason for this. The bright acidity that was present in the fresh lime juice has become softer and duller. The aroma is very different as well, with the fresh vegetal notes being replaced by bitter, oxidized citrus notes.


There’s no doubt that fresh is always the best, but pasteurized juice is definitely a step up from the sweet and sour mix that is used behind most bars. When making the choice between fresh juice and pasteurized juices, make sure to taste them side by side in a cocktail. After all, this is what you will be serving your guest.

Do you have a preference between fresh and pasteurized lime juice?

Chris Tunstall

Co-Founder of A Bar Above and career bartender and mixologist. I love experimenting, creating cocktails, and drinking Green Chartreuse.