As signs of spring start to bring hope for warmer days, I know winter is still something a lot of you are dealing with. In the dead days of winter, I can say I’m happy I moved to California where anything below 50 is freezing. Yet, we have had many cool and rainy days this winter (we may even be out of the severe drought), so I can sympathize—a little. I also grew up in Ohio and every year spend a month during the winter there so I do know what snow days look like and can firmly say I am not a fan of seasons (insert winking emoji here).
But one really great thing about winter—citrus fruit! Tell me you don’t love when Cuties and Halos hit the grocery stores in droves. One thing I’ve always been confused about is the difference between mandarins, tangerines and clementines. So I googled it and it turns out that mandarin oranges are a type of fruit and tangerines and clementines are just two mandarin orange varieties. And when you buy Cuties or Halos, you are getting different types of mandarin oranges depending on what type is currently in season. Currently we are in the final days of the mandarin orange growing season and are most likely buying the Murcott variety. Did I loose any of you already? Probably, but the nerdy side of me found this kind of interesting. And hopefully I wasn’t alone in not knowing what is probably common knowledge for most.
While grocery shopping recently, all the citrus fruit seemed to just jump into my cart. I had bags of mandarins, lemons, limes… But could you blame me? The vibrant yellows, oranges and greens just looked so happy and fresh. Yet, being that I live alone, I needed to come up with some ways to use it all before it went bad. And what better way to use up your fruit than in a tasty cocktail? So I went to Pinterest and looked up cocktail recipes and there were actually lots of Gin and Vodka recipes. They were mostly takes on a Gin Fizz or a Screwdriver, so I figured I probably couldn’t go wrong combining fresh squeezed mandarin juice with anything I had in my liquor cabinet. And my favorite recipe was one by Two Tarts so that’s what I aimed for creating (see original recipe here).
My only regret in making this cocktail: not thinking to do it at the beginning of mandarin orange season! Seriously, this is so good. A real pick-me-up for the winter blues too! I truly believe the fresh squeezed juice makes all the difference. And what’s really great about this recipe is you can make it for one drink or scale it and make a whole pitcher for a party.
- About 2-3 oz (1/3 Cup) fresh squeezed mandarin orange juice (about 3-4 mandarin oranges, any variety)
- 1 oz (1/8 cup) fresh squeezed Meyer lemon juice (about 1 small Meyer lemon)
- 1/2 ounce Triple Sec
- 2 ounces Vodka
For Sugar Rim & Garnish (Optional)
- Sugar sprinkles
- Lemon and mandarin orange zest
- Candied 0range slices (Available at most grocery stores with dried fruit, I found mine at Trader Joes)
- Fresh mint
To rim glass (optional): Pour sugar sprinkles onto a small plate or shallow bowl. Zest both the Meyer lemon and mandarin orange into your sugar sprinkles until there is a nice mix of color within your sugar. Rim your glass with fruit juice by wiping a slice of the lemon or orange around the rim. Then dip your glass in the sprinkle mixture.
For drink: Fill your glass with ice. Combine mandarin orange juice, lemon juice, triple sec and vodka. If making more than one drink, mix your ingredients in a shaker or pitcher and then pour into glasses.
For garnish: Add candied orange and a piece of fresh mint or other green herb for added flair. The mint wasn’t intended to change the taste of the drink, but it looks so pretty. And the smell does add to the experience.
I served my drink in a quilted mason jar, but it fits in a classic lowball glass.
Cheers to seasonal fruit and the change of seasons as this sweet drink will surely welcome spring!