The Blood Oranges are here.
In fact, they’ve been here awhile. Thanks to the Citrus Gods, oranges keep for quite some time in the refrigerator because I’ve had these since January. Why, you ask?
Good question. At the start of the year I had knee surgery and decided to detox for 30 days while recovering. Which simply means that in conjunction with some powerful, all natural supplements, I ate a very limited variation of food: a few fruits, most vegetables, and fish. For two weeks straight, I only ate sustainably sourced, omega-3-rich fish as a source of protein. And for the other two weeks of the plan, I stuck to chicken, wild game, and yep – more fish. The entire time? No alcohol.
But during that time the blood oranges appeared at the local produce market, so I snagged them up, thinking I’d make my Blood Orange Margarita or Blood Orange Polar Vortex once I finished the detox and returned to the land of the living. Er, the land of cocktail consumption.
But alas. Time, life, and a nasty cold had other plans. Fast forward to last weekend, and as I packed a cooler for a girls getaway those ruby red gems stared back at me from the depths of my fruit drawer. I threw them into the cooler alongside the shrimp and scallops as an afterthought, thinking I’d serve them for breakfast.
My travel companion agreed: breakfast is overrated, so we ended up eating past noon every day and the oranges continued to sit.
Until night two, when on a whim and based on her quiet curiosity about the unofficial state drink of Wisconsin, I whipped up some Blood Orange Old Fashioneds. These are a far cry from my traditional Old Fashioned. This updated version makes use of those culinary gems that are only available in the first few months of the year.
Ahhh, blood orange bitters, how I love thee. Angostura bitters are a must for every home bar, but then I’d argue so are orange, Peychaud’s, chocolate, cranberry, celery, shall I continue? OK – for the novices out there just building your home bar to acceptable standards, insist on the Angostura and blood orange, to start. You can become obsessed just like me in a year’s time.
And there are some folks in Louisville (shocking. brown liquor from Kentucky) who are KNOCKING it out of the park when it comes to brandy. I’ve tried nearly all the brandies on the market, but nothing compares to Copper & Kings for the base of an Old Fashioned. Pick up a bottle of this stuff for your bar. It’s divine, and it’ll turn you into an Old Fashioned snob from here on out. Sorry. Not sorry. 🙂
In terms of technique, it kind of matters with this one. Don’t be shy. Squeeze the heck out of those puppies, let the pulp fly, then drop it into a wide mixing glass. I used half an orange per cocktail, to be unmeasurably exact. You want to extract every last ounce of goodness out of the blood orange, so I recommend muddling the sugar, bitters, a dash of club soda and the orange to extract the pulp, juice, and oils out of the orange. Get some muscle into it! If you don’t have a muddler, then use the back of a spoon or some other kind of blunt object. But muddle! This Yarai mixing glass is a good one,
and the Hawthorn strainer is a must for these types of cocktails to keep out the larger chunks of orange. Normally I prefer my cocktails to be perfectly strained, but not in this case. Bring on the Blood Orange pulp!
This cocktail is perfect for a deceivingly chilly day. You know the type, because if you’re in the midwest, you’ve got one today. The kind where the sun is shining, the sky is optimistically azure, yet the air temperature defies barefoot excursions no matter how hard you try, leaving your cursing yourself in your sock-less feet as you run back from the mailbox.
Put this in your glass tonight and sit by the fire one last time, bidding winter adieu with warm, amber brandy warming you from the inside while crisp, sunny orange notes catapult you into Spring.
Happy Friday, and happy cocktailing.
- ½ blood orange, plus a wedge as a garnish
- 1 sugar cube (1/2 teaspoon)
- ¼ teaspoon blood orange bitters
- 3 oz Copper and Kings Brandy
- 2 oz club soda, plus a dash for the muddling
- In a large mixing glass, squeeze the orange half and drop it into the glass.
- Add the sugar, bitters, and a dash of club soda.
- Muddle the ingredients, extracting all the juice, pulp, and oil out of the orange half.
- Add the brandy and club soda.
- Gently stir to combine. Add ice and stir for 30 seconds to chill the cocktail.
- Using a hawthorn strainer, pour the ingredients into a cocktail glass.
- Garnish with a Blood Orange wheel.