During the dark days of Prohibition, good drinks weren’t always easy to come by. To mask the taste of bathtub gin and other illicitly made spirits, people often mixed their liquors with juice, fortified wines or whatever they could get their hands on. In the case of the Orange Blossom, gin was mixed with orange juice and sweet vermouth, and the cocktail became a hit during the 1920s and ’30s.
Similar to the Bronx Cocktail (gin, dry vermouth, sweet vermouth, orange juice) and far more interesting than the Screwdriver, the Orange Blossom is a solid brunch drink. But don’t let the time of day keep you from shaking one of these whenever the mood strikes.
The Orange Blossom recipe appears in the “The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book” by Albert Stevens Crockett, which was published in 1935. According to the author, the cocktail may have been created by a youthful bartender with romantic spring notions, though it’s more likely that it was devised by “some young bridegroom or other who wanted something novel to use at his final stag party.” Either way, we can thank Crockett for documenting the recipe for posterity.
The book also mentions a variation of the drink that skips the vermouth entirely, and calls for equal parts gin and juice. While Snoop Dogg isn’t shy about his preference for Gin & Juice, this particular Orange Blossom benefits from the herbal vermouth, which soothes the bracing gin and acidic juice.
When making an Orange Blossom for yourself, use fresh juice for the best results, as it brightens the drink. And feel free to experiment with the gin. If you like your gins on the drier side, try something in the London dry category. If you prefer more citrusy gins, try a modern style. But per “The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book,” the classic choice is actually Old Tom gin, a softer and sweeter type of gin that sands down the cocktail’s edges and adds body. Old Tom was prevalent during Prohibition and can still be found today, should you wish to embrace your Prohibition-era sensibilities.
1 ounce gin
1 ounce sweet vermouth
1 ounce orange juice, freshly squeezed
Garnish: orange wedge
Add the gin, sweet vermouth and orange juice into a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish with an orange wedge.