For many of us, our first “mixed drink” was that time in high school when somebody scored a bottle of two-buck Popov. We watched in awe and anticipation as they sloshed the vodka into a plastic cup, followed by Tropicana orange juice from concentrate. A few swirls of the cup, and voilà! Like an old friend, this orange juice from our childhood breakfasts, paired now with this new, clear and present danger: VODKA. And of course, since this was the first vodka we ever had, we assumed that they all tasted like this. Then came another round. And another (we’re in high school, after all), with Black Sabbath blasting on the turntable. And not only did our friend score the vodka, he also had that rockin’ Pioneer stereo with those big-ass speakers cranked to ten. Paranoid—the song, not us. For us, life couldn’t be better! Until of course, the inevitable bowing to the porcelain god (we’re neophytes, after all), not to mention the first of many future hangovers the next morning. And we blanched at the sight of the bottle of Tropicana, as our mom fixed us a plate of pancakes.
Now, several lifetimes later, we’ve been around the sun more than a few times, and we know that Popov sucks ass and orange juice from concentrate totally blows. And we also realize that one of the advantages of being a so-called “grown-up” is that we can get good vodka ourselves, without getting carded! And we can also enjoy our orange juice freshly-squeezed (or is it “squoze”?). This drink that I present to you now, “Orange Crush”, materialized the other day when I saw these brilliant tangelos at the local market. Tangelos, for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure, are a hybrid of tangerines (another personal favorite) and grapefruit, and they are juicy, sweet, and delicious, with a taste quite distinct from the orange (which seems pedestrian by comparison). Add to this, the luxurious French brandy-based orange liqueur, Grand Marnier, plus the equally French ginger liqueur, Domaine de Canton (with a dash of lemon), and we have the apotheosis of the “Vodka & Orange Juice”. The “Orange Crush” (named for that high school crush that went unrequited). And as I said before, this is a drink for grown-ups. Flavorful, of course. Smooth, you bet. Yet surprisingly not very sweet, as half-way through the first, you’re already thinking about the second (and let’s call up Black Sabbath on Spotify)…
1½ parts Stolichnaya Vodka
½ part Grand Marnier
½ part Domaine de Canton
1 part fresh-squeezed Tangelo juice
¼ part fresh-squeezed Lemon juice*
*Fresh-squeezed Seville Orange juice may be substituted for the Lemon juice
Shake over ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish with a Tangelo twist.