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Oleo Saccharum Sour Mix

Oleo saccharum / Tim Nusog

Oleo saccharum, despite its complicated-sounding name, is merely a simple way of using sugar to extract the oil from citrus peels. On its own, it makes a delicious cocktail ingredient that bartenders have used in drinks since the early 19th century. Add lemon juice, and this sweet-and-tart ingredient forms the base of a deliciously complex sour mix that can be used to liven up a number of drinks, from the Blue Hawaii to the notorious AMF.

It does take a bit of time to make, since the citrus peels and sugar need to stand for several hours. But the amount of actual effort is minimal. Peel your fruit in the morning, and you can be crafting drinks by cocktail hour.


  • Peel of 1 grapefruit

  • Peel of 1 lemon

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/2 cup lemon juice


  1. Using a vegetable peeler, Y-peeler or similar tool, peel the entire surfaces of the grapefruit and lemon into a bowl. Try to get only the colored outer layer, minimizing the amount of bitter white pith underneath.

  2. Add the sugar and muddle, ensuring the sugar is worked into the peels well. Let stand for 4 to 6 hours.

  3. Push the peels away to the sides of the bowl, allowing the oils to gather in the center.

  4. Remove the peels and transfer the oleo saccharum into a jar.

  5. Add the lemon juice, seal the jar and shake until the mixture is fully combined. Chill before using.