All around me it seems, delicious cocktails have been popping up. I’m sure it’s a trend. I’m sure at some point the cool kids who decide such fads will get tired of interesting flavors and turn their fickle taste buds back to the mellower white zinfandel or tasteless Natty Lite (okay, maybe not. But, you know what I mean). For now, at this moment at least, it’s almost okay to order something other than a vodka and soda while standing at the bar. Examples? I have several. Let’s start with the Drunken Sow at Batch in Culver City. Three words: bacon-infused-bourbon. Too heavy? How about a Moscow Mule from Tin Roof Bistro in Manhattan Beach. True, it’s an oldie, but, when was the last time a man (TD) could pull off drinking a concoction of vodka, lime juice and ginger beer–all served in an oddly effeminite silver cup? I say, grasp the brass ring while you can.
And then there is the Old George at Manhattan Post in Manhattan Beach. It’s their take on a salty dog with ruby grapefruit juice, basil and an odd sort of raspberry peppercorn relish deal. Two of these babies over dinner and I was inspired to come up with a cocktail of my own. Just in time for Valentine’s Day.
This cocktail begins with the blood orange. Blood orange syrup to be specific. They just happen to be in season right now. But if they aren’t where you live, you can often find blood orange syrup with the other flavored drink syrups in the grocery.
Here I’ve made my own. Equal parts juice and sugar are brought to a simmer.
Then strained and set aside to cool completely. Go ahead and put your vodka in the freezer about now.
No, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this photo–I just can’t seem to get over the color of blood orange juice. Pantone…are you listening?
Returning to the Old George. So, a salty dog is called so because it is a greyhound (vodka and grapefruit) served in a salt-rimmed glass. Like with margaritas, the salt plays well with the sour of the grapefruit juice. Blood oranges fall somewhere in between regular oranges and grapefruit on the sour-scale, so I began with a bag of superfine sugar and then slowly added fine sea salt until I had a nice balance of salty and sweet (think kettle corn). Go ahead and rim each glass with the swalty mixture..
Next comes chilled vodka followed by our blood orange syrup. It’s all topped with plenty of crushed–almost snow-like ice. This part is important. If you don’t have an ice maker that will make crushed iced for you , a similar effect can be achieved with a food processor. Think Snoopy Sno Cone machine without the interminable hand cranking. Or, if you happen to have a Snoopy Sno Cone machine, use that.
The final ingredient is just enough soda water to give the whole thing a little sparkle.
Have you guessed the name of this little cocktail yet? I’ll give you a hint, we’ve talked about salty dogs already. And, what do you call a cocktail with regular orange juice and vodka? That’s right a screw driver.
And so, on this Valentine’s Day, I give you, the Salty Screw (and TD says I’m not romantic).
The Salty Screw
- 1 C blood orange juice
- 1 C water
Combine sugar and juice in a medium saucepan and mix until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil. Allow to boil for a minute or two. Take off heat, strain into a head-proof bowl and let cool. Will save well in the fridge in a covered container.
- 1/2 C superfine or granulated sugar
- fine sea salt to taste.
Begin by adding in 2 TBS salt, combined and continue until reach desired balance of salty and sweet.
(serves 1 in generous low-ball glass) (yes, I realize the cocktail pictured in this post is not in a low ball glass. I made these babies during the SuperBowl. The SuperBowl is really long, we needed larger cocktails).
- 1 low ball glass
- 1.5 oz chilled vodka
- 2-3 oz blood orange syrup (depending on your taste)
- Crushed ice
- Soda water
Rim glass with sugar/salt mixture. Combined vodka and syrup. Top with crushed ice (fill glass to top as ice will melt quickly to start). Top-off with soda water. Mix. Syrup can be drizzled on top of completed cocktail for a little fancy fancy.