National Orange Blossom Day

Rollin’ down the street, smokin’ indo, sippin’ on gin and juice” ~ Snoop Dogg

This post was a case of mistaken identity. Kind of like the one where I enrolled for a university course called Criminology: Research Methods, imagining I would be taught exciting stuff like how to identify DNA in lipstick on cigarette butts, only to discover that it was about statistics.

Except this mistake turned out to be a lot more fun.

When I opted to blog about orange blossoms, edible flowers came to mind. I’ve really enjoyed salads full of pretty petals made by friends of mine on Mayne Island, and I had visions of creating bouncy piles of greens flecked with orange splashes.

But no. It turns out that the Orange Blossom is a drink – a summery cocktail consisting of gin, OJ, and fine sugar. Yup, it’s Gin and Juice… (Thanks, Snoop Dogg.)

Fantastically easy to make, and refreshingly delicious, the Orange Blossom is a great find just in time for summer. Some recipes add vermouth, but having drunk it warm as a teenage rebel in Britain, I can’t stomach this version. (It was all we could get, for some evil reason.)

A classic drinks guide, “The Hour: A Cocktail Manifesto,” written in 1948 by literary critic Bernard DeVoto, has just been re-released by Tin House Books. The strictly purist DeVoto and I are on the same page regarding vermouth (though clearly for different reasons), of which he says: “The heathen put it to many uses but we know none for it.”

I also drank warm gin on one unwise occasion, and consequently quite dislike the taste of that as well, but this cocktail proved itself deliciously effective at obscuring it. As it turns out, this is the very attribute that fuelled the Orange Blossom’s rise to popularity. During Prohibition in the 1920s, orange juice helped blunt the rank bite of bathtub gin.

Two versions, one neat, one on the rocks, show up in a 1935 cocktail bible called the Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book, by A.S. Crockett, who surmises that Orange Blossom No. 1 (neat, with equal parts gin, OJ, and Italian vermouth), was created by “some young bridegroom who wanted something novel to use at his final stag party.” Orange Blossom No. 2 is built in an old-fashioned glass filled with ice, and calls for 1:1 gin and OJ.

DeVoto also disapproves of the Orange Blossom and drinks like it because he abhors the use of fruit juice. (In fact, according to the NY Times’ William Grimes, Mr. DeVoto shrinks the cocktail universe to two drinks: “a slug of whiskey” and the martini. Jim would probably approve…)

But we are making an Orange Blossom despite DeVoto. Drinksmixer.com says, and I agree:  Use 2 oz gin, 1 oz orange juice, and 1 tsp superfine sugar. Combine the gin, orange juice, and sugar in a shaker half-filled with ice cubes. Shake well, and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange slice. (And I would add: Enjoy in the garden in the late evening sun, with friends.)

Please note: according to Esquire, if you’re going the Gin ‘n’ Juice route, it’s a Collins glass, rocks, and supermarket juice. Real Gs don’t squeeze oranges, add sugar, or bother with vermouth.

Right Snoop?

Enjoy!

~ Deb

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