Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Cocktail Blogging: the Orange Blossom

by Will on January 21, 2013


There was a time, extending basically  from the 17th century until World War II, when the only clear liquor available in the English-speaking world was gin. Somehow our wartime alliance with the Russians — a people who fight tirelessly and fearlessly, and thus pretty good allies to have — opened up our markets to vodka. Before this time, vodka had been enjoyed outside Russia only by bohemian Frenchmen in Paris and their American hangers-on (one of whom invented the Bloody Mary at the American bar in Paris in the 1920s). As happy as I am that the Allied side won World War II, I hope I will be forgiven for regretting that the allied relationship led to gin being displaced by vodka in most Americans’ cocktail vocabulary.

A consequence of this displacement is that one of the most well known cocktails to Americans — whether teenagers or adults — is the Screwdriver. This drink is made by pouring a glass of orange juice and then pouring in as much vodka as the “mixologist” thinks appropriate. The Screwdriver finds its counterpoint in the drink known as Sex on the Beach, so popular a decade ago, which adds fruit schnapps to make the mixture even more fruity and alcoholic. If you appreciate good, well balanced cocktails, this lazy approach should strike you as an affront.

Contrast the Screwdriver to its gin-based predecessor, the Orange Blossom. The Orange Blossom is subtle and tasty. Unlike the Screwdriver, it doesn’t just taste like orange juice with some toxicity added.

The Orange Blossom (Will’s take):

1 1/2 oz. gin

1 1/2 oz. fresh-squeezed orange juice

1 oz. Cointreau

1 dash orange bitters

Mix over ice and shake. Serve in a cocktail glass with a sugared rim. Now tell me this isn’t better than every Screwdriver you’ve ever had.


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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Marsha January 22, 2013 at 4:37 am

Will, Dad made me one of these tonight to celebrate Martin Luther King’s birthday. You’re right about the gin. It is just so tasty. Thanks, Mom


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