A Prohibition era cocktail, this drink was created to mask the alcohol smell of gin, and has several, distinct, variations. Plus it has a few different names including the Adirondack and the Florida.
Many people presume that the Orange Blossom is a gin Screwdriver. This is not the case. Both have distinct origins, and in the case of the Orange Blossom, there are a myriad of variegated varieties. In some cases, the drink is a highball; in others, a cocktail. In a few, the bartender may use simple syrup or a liqueur to sweeten the cocktail; in others, the drink may be a more classic approach, using sweet vermouth. You also have the strange, exotic varieties that were created to give a sense of “culture” and sophistication to the drink, making it more “civilized” (Jackson 199). A few versions utilize orange flower water to give it a depth of flavor, and perfume like quality, that definitely assists in masking the smell and flavor of the gin; this was what the cocktail was originally designed to do.
The Orange Blossom was created during Prohibition, and was an attempt to make the “taste of bathtub gin” palatable through the use of “sweet orange juice” and “whatever liqueur was around” (DeGroff 92). Originally listed by Crockett in The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book (1935), there were two versions enumerated (Graham). The first is served neat, and features the use of gin, vermouth and orange juice (Ibid). Essentially, this would be a strange cocktail where the vermouth’s bitter and aromatic components would be curbed thanks to the use of sweet orange juice; this will also be extra sweet, so using something such as Punt e Mes or Cinzano would work well here as to not overwhelm the palate with sweetness. You do not want to overwhelm the sweetness by using something such as Carpano Antica, despite how delicious it might be. The secondary version listed also appears in Craddocks’ text as the Orange Blossom; however, there is a discrepancy in how it is made (Craddock 117). In the Waldorf-Astoria, the drink is built inside of a bar glass; in Craddock’s version, the drink is shaken and strained into a cocktail glass (Graham; Craddock Ibid). The built version is known quite often as the Adirondack (Graham; Embury 142). Neither of the two versions (though some contemporary versions such as that listed in Charles Schumann’s American Bar) include orange flower water, which personally I prefer added into my version of the cocktail.
Actually, a fourth version appears in David A. Embury’s The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks (1948). In his text, he lists the Orange Blossom as using eight parts gin, four parts orange juice, and one half part simple syrup, with which to add a little bit of sugar to sweeten it (Embury 142). This version, like the one given by Craddock, will easily mask the taste of the gin, and serves its function as a Prohibition drink. As Embury points out, this drink is rather similar to a sour, and as such, he historically links it with the Gin Sour, citing that the use of simple syrup must be reduced since the orange juice is naturally sweet (Ibid 139, 142). His point is rather insightful, since orange juice naturally carries a sweeter note than other citrus fruits; as such, the addition of simple syrup, Cointreau or sweet vermouth has to be monitored very carefully. Furthermore, since Embury treats it like a sour, he tosses in a few dashes of lime juice for each drink in order to give it a bit more bite, and “zest” (Ibid 142). Something similarly is done by Jackson in his “civilized” version, which includes the use of lime juice, and orange-flower water (and even an egg white if so desired) (Jackson 199).
As can be seen, everyone has a variation on the ratio as well as the ingredients to include. While this is true for quite a few cocktails, this is demonstrated rather clearly with the Orange Blossom. I must say that to create a unique taste in the drink, you can vary the type of orange juice used; personally, I like using orange flower water in mine, regardless of the version, and in terms of the Adirondack version, trying the drink with something such as Cara Cara orange juice is quite delightful, since it leads a nice unique flavor profile to the drink that gives it more fruit flavors that would otherwise not be present in normal Valencia orange juice.
The Orange Blossom (version 1):
3/4 ounce gin
3/4 ounce Italian / sweet vermouth
3/4 ounce orange juice
Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker, shake and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange zest if desired.
The Orange Blossom, or the Adirondack (version 2):
1 1/2 ounces gin
1 1/2 ounces orange juice
2 drops orange flower water (optional)
Same process as above. Or if preferred, build in a rocks glass.
The Orange Blossom (version 3, by DeGroff):
1 1/2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce Cointreau
1 1/2 ounces orange juice
Same process as version one.
The Orange Blossom (version 4, by Embury):
2 ounces gin
1 ounce orange juice
1/4 ounce simple syrup
Same process as version one. To give it a little more “zest” add in a few dashes of lime juice.
Embury, David A. 2009. The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks. Originally published 1948. New York: Mud Puddle Books, Inc.
Schumann, Charles. 1991. American Bar. New York: Abbeville Press Publishers.