Drinks Expert Explains Exactly How To Use Yuzu For Your Summer Cocktails

What are your favorite summer cocktails? Are you partial to refreshing margaritas or mojitos, or perhaps you opt for an Aperol spritz or sangria? Do you like to indulge in a frozen piña colada or strawberry daiquiri to keep cool? Even if you gravitate toward sipping something fresh and fruity, you may have overlooked a lesser-known option. Let's talk about yuzu. 

Yuzu is a citrus grown primarily in East Asia but is also found in other parts of the world — and even in the United States. Yuzu has a taste profile that's very different than citrus flavors we may be used to, such as lemon and lime. In fact, the fruit is a combination of citrus and sour mandarin.

Mashed enlisted the expertise of drinks expert Giuseppe Santochirico, beverage director at Midnight Theatre and Hidden Leaf in New York City, to help us put together the perfect summer yuzu cocktail. When asked about the perfect summer cocktail featuring yuzu, Santochirico said, "A (slightly spicy) mezcal margarita would be the way to go for the summer." To make it, you only need to make a few minor adjustments. Switch up a traditional mezcal margarita recipe to include ½ ounce of yuzu juice instead of ¾ ounce of lime juice.

Yuzu is a distinctive fruit ideal for summer

Drinks expert Giuseppe Santochirico described yuzu as "a mix of lemon, with a zing of lime and a hint of grapefruit and mandarin, or orange." This combination makes the fruit refreshing, sweet, and sour all at the same time. Santochirico also claimed yuzu is perfect for summer cocktails because it has a unique and versatile flavor profile. "It is tart and definitely sour, but at the same time has a hint of sweetness: the ideal combination to quench one's thirst, making it perfect for the hottest season," said Santochirico. 

If you're not a fan of mezcal, Santochirico shared some great ideas for other alcohol pairings that will go well with yuzu, including an "unaged agave spirit" like an Espadin or a "leaner" Japanese shochu. 

Yuzu juice can be found at Whole Foods and on Amazon, but if you can't get your hands on any, Meyer lemon is one yuzu juice substitute that can help replicate the taste. According to Santochirico, "It could be approximated with a 2:1:1 ratio of lemon, lime, and pink grapefruit juice, although you would definitely miss out on yuzu's more aromatic aromas."