Sparkling Yuzu Cocktails to Cool Off With This Summer

Bartender Christian Suzuki-Orellana brings us two cocktails—a spritzer and a swizzle—ready for the season.

June 10, 2021
Photo by James Ransom. Prop Stylist: Ali Slagle. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog.

We’ve teamed up with Fever-Tree to share season-ready drink recipes starring their top-notch cocktail mixers—like the ultra-refreshing Sparkling Lime & Yuzu. Here, bartender Christian Suzuki-Orellana offers two bubbly cocktail recipes made with the Sparkling Lime & Yuzu’s favorite spirits: vodka and tequila.

In the past year alone, Bay Area bartender Christian Suzuki-Orellana, aka Suzu, has taught nearly a thousand virtual cocktail classes. So he knows a thing or two about making bar-worthy cocktails accessible to just about anyone, regardless of skill level or equipment.

“I think a lot of people get this overwhelming feeling when trying to replicate certain drinks that they'll see at a nice, fancy cocktail bar and not being able to do the same thing at home,” Suzu says. The trick, he explains, is to make the idea of mixing up drinks at home more approachable—whether that means allowing for alternatives and substitutes or just using terminology that even a novice can follow.

Photo by James Ransom. Prop Stylist: Ali Slagle. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog.

His two latest cocktails feel right in line with that mindset: They’re easy to make with whatever tools you’ve got handy and yet would feel right at home on the menu at your favorite cocktail bar. Bubbly and super refreshing, they also happen to be just right for summertime.

You may have tried a swizzle cocktail before—typically, they’re sour drinks made with rum and lots of crushed ice, all served in a tall glass. But the real defining quality of a swizzle is that you use a swizzle stick (a wooden, plastic, or metal stick with little branches coming off the end of one side) to combine the ingredients in the glass.

To make Suzu’s version of a swizzle, you need neither rum nor a swizzle stick. In his riff, vodka is the base spirit, while fino sherry adds an almost savory, nutty quality; if you can’t find fino, a Manzanilla sherry or any type of fortified wine would work. Thai basil brings an especially heady aroma, though Italian basil makes a good swap (give the herb a slap in your palm to release the oils, no need to muddle). For that citrusy brightness and effervescence, Suzu calls on a bartender staple you can find in many supermarkets and liquor stores: Fever-Tree’s Sparkling Lime & Yuzu, which is made from Tahiti limes and pressed oil extract from Japanese yuzu, a citrus fruit with floral notes.

The crushed ice is a must-have for any swizzle, and it’s a cinch to make (not to mention, a good way to relieve any pent-up stress from the day). Suzu uses a Lewis bag, which is specially designed for crushing ice, but you can just pop freezer ice into a zip-top bag or between a kitchen towel and then smash it with a heavy cooking tool, like a wooden mallet or rolling pin. Once your crushed ice is all set, grab your swizzle stick—or improvise with a bar spoon, a chopstick, a fork, whatever you’ve got, Suzu says—and you’re in business.

For a cocktail that’s just as easy to pull together (and equally impressive), this Strawberry-Yuzu Tequila Spritzer is the thing to make. “For me, strawberry is one of the more iconic fruits of Japan,” says Suzu, who spent his early years in Tokyo. He adds it here via strawberry liqueur, which you can buy or make yourself with fresh strawberries and vodka.

But the real star of this drink is the citrus—of which you get plenty from the makrut-lime-leaf-infused tequila and the Fever-Tree Sparkling Lime & Yuzu mixer. The makrut lime leaves lend an aromatic zing to the tequila; if you don’t have those on hand, feel free to swap in regular old lime zest. The infusion takes just a couple minutes in a mixing glass, but if you don’t have one, a mason jar, a coffee mug, or any vessel you have lying around will work just fine; "There’s no wrong answer for this," Suzu says.

The Sparkling Lime & Yuzu tops off this drink with tangy-sweet, floral notes and adds an extra bit of nostalgia, Suzu explains. "It does kind of take me back to drinking carbonated yuzu drinks when I was a kid," he says. "I love having something like this on hand, because if I’m going to make a high-quality cocktail, all my ingredients should be high-quality and approachable, too." We’ll cheers to that.

What sparkling cocktails will you be stirring up this summer? Tell us in the comments!

Whether you’re a master mixologist or budding home bartender, Fever-Tree makes the very best mixers for all sorts of sips—from a refreshing Strawberry-Yuzu Tequila Spritzer to a citrusy Yuzu-Lime Vodka Swizzle. Ready to shake up these cocktails at home? Be sure to stock your bar cart with Fever-Tree’s Sparkling Lime & Yuzu—it’s made with Tahiti lime and pressed oil extract from Japanese yuzu for a sharp tang and delicate sweetness.

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Erin Alexander

Written by: Erin Alexander

Erin Alexander is the Managing Editor of Brand Partnerships at Food52, covering pop culture, travel, foods of the internet, and all things #sponsored. Formerly at Men’s Journal, Men’s Fitness, Us Weekly, and Hearst, she currently lives in New York City.