Words by: Simon Difford
You may have thought that winter months in the northern hemisphere were confined to the likes of cauliflowers, leeks and brussels sprouts but it's also the season of the blood orange (late December to April). This rich and vibrant variant of the citrus fruit makes a wonderful addition to cocktails calling for orange juice as well inspiring its own recipes.
Native to southern Italy and parts of Spain, the blood orange can vary from the dark-fleshed Moro variety to the delicately flavoured Tarocco. Their blood-red hue comes from a pigment called anthocyanin, found in varying degrees depending on the fruit.
The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit describes the fruit saying 'blood oranges usually add a berry, specifically raspberry, note to the sweetness.' The book goes on to suggest some unusual flavour pairings such as asparagus in a sauce maltaise, and with beetroot courtesy of Heston Blumenthal at The Fat Duck.
Pretty much any cocktail that normally calls for orange juice is better, or at least interestingly different with blood orange juice. However, the following drinks specifically call for blood orange.
A long lost relation of the Bee's Knees - best made with blood orange juice.
Full-on tangy fresh blood orange with a subtle gin back bone.
Blood Orange Margarita
A bloody riff on the classic Margarita.
Tart lemon and citrus notes are balanced by rich and flavoursome honey, with gin adding botanical complexity.
Bloody Blood & Sand
A Blood & Sand with the smoky influence of Islay single malt whisky and the rounding citrus notes of blood orange juice.
A Bronx made 'bloody' by the use of blood oranges. Fruity yet dry with botanical notes both from the vermouth and the gin.
Reminiscent of a Blood and Sand with Bénédictine and lemon juice replacing sweet vermouth.
Dantes in Fernet
A Blood & Sand style cocktail, with Fernet Branca providing an almost smoky herbal influence.
Red berries, red wine and blood orange juice are subtly fortified with gin and the underlying herbal notes of Fernet Branca.
Mezcal, cinnamon and Fernet Branca are big hitting flavours which combine brilliantly in this characterful cocktail.
Bitter Campari notes are balanced by sweet limoncello liqueur, with blood orange juice adding citrus freshness.
Blood orange juice replaces sweet vermouth in this fruity Negroni.
Mezcal and blood orange juice with sweet spice added with cinnamon syrup and clove rich falernum.
There It Is...
Genever combines wonderfully with Scotch whisky, to which maraschino liqueur and blood orange juice add flavour and lengthen.