Home Bar Essentials: The Citrus Twist

When in doubt, a classic citrus twist is the always the perfect final touch!

When it comes to bartending basics, the citrus twist is a must-have technique in your tool kit. Read on for three ways you can use the peel of your grapefruit, lime or lemon to dress up any cocktail creation!

Already an expert on this technique? Explore more in our Home Bar Essentials Series by visiting the blog posts below!


Tried and true, the wide twist is a staple garnish that fits near every classic cocktail. From the Negroni to the Martini and everything in between, this technique will impress even the most expert cocktail connoisseurs!

THE TOOLS: We recommend using a Y-shaped vegetable peeler or small paring knife to create the wide twist.

STEP ONE: Take the citrus and hold it securely in your palm. Use the peeler or paring knife to carve a wide strip of peel out of the fruit, guiding the strip away from you. TIP: don’t worry about taking off the pith with the peel! A little pith will help the twist hold its shape.

STEP TWO: Take your strip of citrus peel and lay it flat on a cutting board. If desired, trim the edges of the peel to create clean lines, and the ends of the peel in an angled fashion. (See below for an example!)

STEP THREE: Wide twists are ideal for expressing the natural essential oils held in citrus peel. Gently fold the twist above your glass and watch the beautiful oils dust the cocktail!

STEP FOUR: Finally, curl the twist and pop it in the class or on a cocktail pick! Voilà— you have a timeless addition to any traditional drink.

Try it out with the delicious ‘Empress Negroni’ recipe!

Pictured from left: The Ease & Elegance (by Jordan of @highproofpreacher), the Summer Blossom Gimlet & the Negroni Viola (the later two shot by Emily of @emilylaurae)


For a sophisticated garnish that’s just the right amount of ‘extra’, try creating a long and narrow citrus twist! This style pairs perfectly with elevated cocktails like the sparkling Empress 75.

THE TOOLS: The easiest way to achieve those long and curly citrus twists? A handy channel knife! We also recommend having a straw or chopstick on hand to create the perfect shape.

STEP ONE: In a similar fashion to the wide twist, take the citrus and hold it securely in your palm. Using even pressure, carefully guide the channel knife to carve a long and narrow strip of peel out of the fruit, slicing away from you. TIP: if you don’t have a channel knife, you can use a Y-shaped peeler and paring knife to slice a wide strip into multiple narrow twists.

STEP TWO: Take the thin strip of citrus peel, trim if needed, and wrap it tightly around the straw or chopstick. Hold it in place for several moments to secure the perfect shape.

STEP THREE: Drape the twist over the edge of your cocktail class or drop it in the cocktail for an effortlessly elegant garnish!

Try it out with the sparkling ‘Empress 75‘ recipe!

Pictured from left: The Empress Martini, the Bees Knees, the Empress 75 (as shot by Rachel of @twolovesstudio)


Feeling comfortable with the basics? Take it to the next level with a more decorative approach! Start with a simple wide twist, and read on for three ways you can use a paring knife to make the traditional take stand out.

THE TOOLS: Along with a Y-shaped peeler, a small & sharp paring knife will be key here.

STEP ONE: After creating your wide twist (see instructions above), lay the peel flat on a cutting board. Using your paring knife, make an incision down the middle of the peel. For a simple look, you can stop here, and fashion the twist on the edge of your glass by tucking the rim in the incision (see the ‘Bees Knees‘ below!)

STEP TWO: Once you understand the technique above, you can get creative with your styling! The Empress Aviation (pictured below right) is a perfect example of how imaginative your citrus creations can be.

Try this technique on any of the below cocktails— find the recipes here!

Pictured from left: The Bees Knees, the Empress Negroni, the Empress Aviation

For more essential hom-bartending tips, be sure to check out our Glassware Guide and Must-Have Bar Tools! And as always, visit our Instagram Page or Cocktail Deck for all the delicious drinkspiration you need.

Sip responsibly!

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