For the love of peels, i.e., how to garnish your drinks with rubbish

We make a grapefruit peel syrup at work for our Paloma. It reignited my curiosity for spent ingredients. At 1886, I tried the peanuts strained from the bourbon used to make the Honey Nut Old-Fashioned. They were soggy although they might have been good if they were roasted again. I tried the Gran Classico soaked coffee beans for the Reunion Island cocktail. Maybe they could’ve been dehydrated, ground, and used as some coffee liqueur crumble on a dessert plate. The point is, I feel like there’s a lot of wastefulness occuring in bars.

There are more complicated items like those mentioned that may be a bit hard to come up with uses for. And then there’s citrus. Save a couple lemons and oranges pre-peeled for expedient service, the rest of the peels and pith hit the trash. Our Paloma recipe is somewhat self-sufficient, as the fruit is peeled to make the syrup prior to juicing. Alas, I can’t save the peels from every piece of citrus because:

A) I use more juice than peels

B) it would be nice to have a barback for all that peeling

C) I’d become a weird peel hoarder

I made a batch at home recently and decided to eat a peel after straining it from the syrup. No pith or anything–it was like slightly tangy slippery Fruit Roll-Ups. My initial impulse was to save the darn things till I had time to bury in sugar and dry them. Which I did tonight. The poor saps will probably take all night to firm up, so if you have a dehydrator(you fancy, huh?) you might want to think about being all modern and using that.


Here are the peels still wet from the sugar syrup. If you’ll be using these in your bar or anywhere you want to look good, you’ll probably want to cut them beautifully. I will be eating the shit out of these at home, so I used every bit of ‘em.

Swirl them around in a bowl of baker’s sugar. The fine texture of the sugar is great for coating the peels without leaving huge granules.

Transport the peels to a baking sheet with wax or parchment paper. The peels will start to absorb the sugar as they harden and dry.

I’m dreaming about making an old-fashioned with one of these bad boys…in 4-6 hours. Anyway, if you are a bored barback or currently have bargaining power over an otherwise idle barback, maybe they’ll be nice enough to whip up a batch of these for you tomorrow. Customers(read:chicks) love pretty garnishes and all it costs your bar program is a bit of time and extra sugar.

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