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I have much to say about an orange crush. This is one of my favorite cocktails. While growing up, my parents belonged to a local club where we could swim and play tennis all summer. It was fun for us kids and definitely gave my parents a much-needed respite from our summer break from school.
There was a fairly basic snack bar next to the pool that served frozen hamburgers and hot dogs grilled on a flattop, potato chips, peanut butter-filled crackers, and soda for the kids. On the flip side, the adults had a nice clubhouse where they could enjoy dining inside away from the elements and the crazy kids hopped up on soda.
The clubhouse had 2 dining areas. One was a little formal where adults could enjoy nicer food and a cocktail. The other area was a small place in the lower level (basement) that was called “the tavern” where kids could eat lunch only if accompanied by an adult. Once a month we ate in there as a treat. To us, it was fancy because there was carpeting and real chairs at tables for 6.
We always ordered the orange crush cocktail to start the meal. For the adults, this was spiked with vodka. The kid’s version looked identical without the vodka. It was elegant and went down fast because it was freshly squeezed orange juice over crushed ice with a hefty splash of soda (Sprite for us) and a maraschino cherry perched on top.
The adult version of an orange crush cocktail is made with fresh orange juice, orange liqueur, vodka, and club soda or citrus-flavored sparkling water. It is served over ice in a tall highball cocktail glass and garnished with an orange slice. It is refreshing and goes down easy, almost too easy on a hot summer afternoon.
As I grew older, I still enjoyed my orange crush cocktail in summer. I have made it different ways and have never tired of this refreshing beverage that just happens to be loaded with vitamin C and immune-boosting antioxidants. The key to a really good orange crush is the juice from freshly squeezed oranges. I also think a good quality vodka is a good idea.
- The juice of 2 navel or Valencia oranges
- Crushed ice
- 3 ounces vodka
- 2 ounces Triple Sec
- 6 ounces +/- citrus flavored sparkling water or soda Orangina or San Pellegrino are good
- 2 orange slices for garnish
- All ingredients ready? Let's begin!
- Juice or squeeze 2 large oranges.
- Fill 2 tall, pint-size cocktail glasses with crushed ice.
- Pour 1 ½ ounces of vodka over the ice in each glass. Add 1 ounce of triple sec to each glass.
- Pour the orange juice over the spirits and give a gentle stir with a bar spoon or a chopstick.
- Top each drink with citrus-flavored sparkling water or soda.
- Garnish the rims of the glasses with slices of fresh orange and serve immediately with straws.
Notes & Tips
If you don’t own a fancy orange press or an electric juicer, you can easily extract the fresh juice using a hand or countertop citrus reamer. Otherwise, cut the orange in quarters and squeeze by hand into a measuring cup with a pour spout. Strain the juice to remove any seeds.
Substitutions & Shortcuts
The vodka can be orange-flavored if you want more essence of orange. One of my siblings makes this cocktail with dark rum and it is excellent. For a virgin orange crush, leave out the alcohol and garnish with a maraschino cherry.
If you don’t have Triple Sec, try Gran Marnier, Cointreau, or Orange Curacao.
A crush can be made with grapefruit or tangerine juice for a nice twist.
The sparkling component of this cocktail is a personal choice. I love the fizziness that perks up the cocktail. Sometimes, I just top this drink off with plain club soda. The original crush recipe included lemon-lime soda. I think sparkling or mineral water that is infused with orange, lemon, or lime is a really good option that doesn’t add the sugar that is in soda.
The only shortcut for this cocktail recipe is to use bottled orange juice. I personally don’t find this to be nearly as delicious as using freshly squeezed orange juice. If you do use bottled juice, go for a high-quality juice with no added sugar.
What to Serve with Orange Crush Cocktails?
When we had our orange crush cocktails at the start of a meal, there was always a small platter of crudité vegetables in the center of the table. It included fresh vegetables that were in season, such as radishes, celery, and carrots. There was also a small bowl of mildly flavored olives. Next to that was a basket of salted crackers. Salt enhances the sweetness of the cocktail. The fresh veggies are in keeping with the theme of a freshly squeezed juice cocktail.
Another thing I like serving with a fresh juice cocktail is small pieces of maple-sweetened cornbread. It is best to serve mildly flavored appetizers, such as pieces of bread, pretzels, dry roasted nuts, and fresh produce. I would stay away from smoked fish, pate, and cheese when drinking orange juice.
Because an orange crush is such a refreshing cocktail, you can make a pitcher to take to the beach or for a picnic. This is a great drink to have with grilled burgers or hot dogs and potato chips. I think it also compliments sweet and sticky spare ribs.