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Fruit Juices in Cocktails

Quality Fruit Juices – What are your Options?

With juices like Orange, Pineapple & Grapefruit, it can sometimes be hard to find good quality fresh product to create your own juices. Here are some other options to consider if you don’t have the ability to squeeze your own fresh juice, (or, in the case of pineapple juice, if you don’t have the equipment to juice a pineapple!)

Freshly Squeezed Juice

  • Most control over taste because you know the varietal used, (roughly) how ripe the fruit is, etc.
  • Freshest option, which is good for maintaining natural acidity and flavor
  • Not always available due to seasonality and cost

Purchased ‘Fresh’ Juice

  • These juices are generally ultra-pasteurized, which does slightly change the flavor.  Still, if you can’t get fresh juice this is your next-best option.
  • Manufacturers typically do not put additives in Fresh juice (but watch your labels because they may!)
  • Because these manufacturers rely on fresh fruit coming to them, they may seasonally change varietals and / or switch to far away sources of fruit, which can affect quality.

Canned or Packaged Juice

  • Least “fresh” option.
  • Manufacturers often store in concentrated form and re-constitute with water & citric acid.
  • Since this is a low cost option, the quality of the ingredients used is generally lowest, and there can be significant seasonal variation in taste, acidity & sugar content.

Orange, Grapefruit & Pineapple Juice

Let’s go through these juices in more detail, discussing their acid levels, sweetness & some tasting notes.



Tasting Notes

  • pH 3.0 – 4.5
  • Considerable amount of sugar
  • Rich mouthfeel due to high sweetness.
  • High sweetness
  • Medium acid (due to high sugar dampening acid flavor)
  • pH 2.9 – 3.75 depending on varietal
  • Less Sugar than orange juice
  • Strong bitterness in the juice & oils, the degree of which depends heavily on the varietal
  • Grapefruit tends to have great disparity in flavor, acid & sugar across varietals
  • pH 3.2 – 4.0
  • Also less sugar than orange juice
  • No oils within skins or zest – all flavor comes from the juice itself
  • Medium weight on palate from the sugar content
  • Medium acid

Citrus Varietals: pH & Tasting Notes:

The following table reflects my findings when testing pH and tasting the varietals that I was able to find.  Note that this was just one sample, and as we discussed seasonality may certainly result in different pH levels across seasons for the same varietal of fruit.





Tasting Notes

Persian / Tahitian 2.2
  • Most common varietal in the USA.
  • Especially fragrant, herbal, somewhat bitter aroma
Key Lime 2.2
  • Smaller than Persian Lime with thinner rind
  • Strong, bitter aroma
Kaffir Lime 2.4
  • Much more aromatic than Persian limes
  • Similar taste as Persian, but strong aromatics make the flavor seem stronger
Sweet Lime 5.8
  • Juice is sweet rather than acidic, and rind is yellow.
  • Aromatics of lime, mouthfeel of orange juice but with less flavor than the Valencia orange.
  • Seemed to oxidize much more quickly than all other citrus that we tried.  Juice became bitter and unpalatable in less than one hour after juicing

Meyer 2.4
  • Juice is similar to Eureka lemon but not quite as tart
  • Most apparent difference is in the zest, which is extremely aromatic and has notes of lemongrass and orange.
Eureka 2.4
  • Most common Lemon varietal in California
  • Strong, clear acidity with clean fresh taste
  • Oils in the zest are clear, clean and aromatic

Cara Cara 3.1
  • Similar to the Valencia Orange in external appearance, but the interior flesh is bright rosy pink.
  • Tastes sweeter than Valencia despite its lower pH – this is likely due to higher sugar levels.
  • Also has hints of grapefruit or cranberry
Blood Orange 3.3
  • Again, similar exterior appearance to Valencia orange, but the interior is a deep, dark red color (Warning: they can stain wooden countertops or clothing!)
  • Flavor is robust and has notes of pomegranate or red berries.
  • More sweet than tart.  Not as much weight than Valencias.
  • I found the oils had a slight mustiness in their aroma, similar to sandalwood
Seville 2.5
  • Also called Sour Orange or Bitter Orange.
  • Much more tart than a Valencia orange – not surprising given the pH level we measured.
  • Some bitterness, though not overwhelming
Valencia 4.0
  • The most common orange used for juice in the USA
  • Round, sweet flavor with a rich mouthfeel
  • Medium Acid

Sudachi 2.5
  • Of lemon, lime and orange, it is closest to a lime in acidity and flavor profile.
  • Flavor is much more vegetal and peppery than lime, almost similar to arugula.