The Filipino Citrus That Will Elevate Your Next Cocktail

Next time you're making a cocktail and are ready to stray from lemons and limes but still want a tangy, refreshing punch, give your booze an upgrade with citrus from the Philippines and Southeast Asia. None other than calamansi or Philippine lime, you'll often find its zingy flavors brightening popular Filipino dishes you have to try, like sisig and adobo. Round and small with a verdant peel, at first glance, an unripe calamansi resembles a plump lime. Cut it open and the fruit reveals juicy, bright orange flesh within. Over time, the pretty green peel fades into orange, becoming fully orange once ripened, looking more like a mandarin. 

Calamansi is popular in Filipino cuisine and quickly finding its way into bars stateside thanks to its unique flavors. The taste is distinct, and once you try it, you will recognize its strong, famously sour and tangy nuanced flavors, married with slightly sweet and floral notes. There's also an element of bitterness that's more pleasant than not. 

Being so unique, mixologists love to include calamansi in their drinks. Just note that you might not be able to find the fresh fruit across many parts of the U.S., especially if you're not in a sunny state. However, if you visit an Asian supermarket or a Filipino grocery store, you should be able to easily get calamansi powder, juice, or concentrate. 

Simply swap out lemons or limes with calamansi to make elevated citrusy cocktails

Incorporating calamansi into your next cocktail is a relatively simple process. Let's start with our classic frothy whiskey sour cocktail recipe. Instead of adding lemon juice to the cocktail shaker, use calamansi juice. And if you can find fresh calamansi, serve the cocktail with a calamansi half-wheel instead of orange. Calamansi juice can be bolder in flavor than lemon juice, so be sure to taste the cocktail to make sure the flavors are balanced.

Another drink you can easily make with calamansi is our zesty Paloma cocktail recipe. Instead of using freshly squeezed lime juice, mix your drink with calamansi juice for a refreshing twist. Here too, garnish the cocktail with a wedge of citrus if you have access to fresh calamansi. 

In the Philippines, calamansi juices and "lemonades" are very popular. You can easily add calamansi to ABV-free beverages and cocktails as well. Go through our comprehensive list of 15 summer mocktails, and simply swap out limes or lemons with calamansi for the citrusy drinks.