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How do you make an attractive lemon twist?

I'm looking for a step-by-step on how to make a lemon twist, the kind bartenders use for garnish. I tried to use the part of my antiquated lemon zester that's for making twists, but I just ended up with strips. Any ideas?

asked by caroline_kuhn almost 5 years ago
3 answers 13803 views
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added almost 5 years ago

You may want a new twist zester, since a sharp blade is good here. When you apply the tool to the lemon, try to follow a spiral, and try to make the strip considerably longer than might come easy (try for 3" but 2" is okay). Use your fingers to whirl the strip of zest into a Shirley Temple corkscrew, as tightly as you can (it might take a little practice) without breaking. As you release it, give it a little lengthening pull, it will uncurl significantly, but it should stay spiral.

As a bit of an aside, for drinks that require twists (and maybe for food you might want to garnish this way?), the point of the twist is to release the oil and juice of the peel onto the surface of the cocktail (or whathaveyou), and to spin the squeezed, presumably now wet & oily, zest around the lip of the glass. This detail is extremely important for a dry martini with twist – skip that step, and all you've got is chilled vodka in an impractical glass. When making your twists, try to work over the glass (or... ?) with an eye to releasing the rind juices into/onto the thing being garnished. If you are making cocktails, don't forget to draw the freshly twisted bit of zest around the rim of the glass before serving.


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added almost 5 years ago

Thank you! I think I just bought a terrible implement- it was an OXO zester I bought before I knew about Microplanes. I think I just need a real twist zester, because it was digging into the lemon instead of peeling it, no matter how much I varied the pressure.

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added almost 5 years ago

To get the long, twirly twists, you really need the tool that does it, like this one:


The main problem with them, though, is that they generally aren't sharp enough to allow you to get the zest off without taking off a lot of the pith, too, which you really want to avoid.

My favorite way to make a twist is to use a very sharp paring knife to cut off a nickel- or quarter-sized disc of zest (it takes a little practice, especially to keep from cutting off pith). Brace the edges of the piece between thumb and forefinger with the skin-side facing the glass so that when you bend the piece of zest slightly, the oils spray into the glass.

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