If you’ve visited my blog before, it should come as no surprise that I love an Old Fashioned. The simple build lends itself to limitless variations. As someone who enjoys experimenting with flavor, I love trying new fruits and syrups. Finding blood oranges in season in the US can be a challenge. When you do spot them though, you have to buy them. Luckily, my husband spotted some and brought two home this week. I knew I had to work on creating a Blood Orange Old Fashioned. It combines two things I love in a new way. Citrus and whiskey in the winter are the perfect pairing.
What’s special about blood oranges?
In case you aren’t familiar, blood oranges are a variety of orange caused by a natural mutation. They were introduced to the world in the 19th century by Sicily and there are several varieties. In addition to its deep red color, the flavor is also different than traditional oranges. They have a slight raspberry taste, along with the citrus flavor of an orange. The color comes from pigments found in flowers and fruit but rare in citrus called anthocyanins. Perhaps most interesting of all, the color of the flesh of the fruit develops at low temperatures at night. While the flavor is distinct, it can be a bit lighter than a traditional orange. This is why we’ll be making a syrup for the Blood Orange Old Fashioned.
Preparing the Blood Orange Syrup
Tools You’ll Need
You can certainly use the tools you have to prepare the syrup but these items make it easier.
- Orange Juicer – I have written about my love for this juicer before (both the orange and the lemon versions). They are heavy duty and rugged. I am still using the first ones I bought ten years ago.
- Thin Peeler – this peeler is incredibly sharp and produces super thin peels that completely avoid the pith, which can add bitterness. It works great for creating garnishes as well.
- Crew Chubby Bottle – these bottles are my go-to storage solution for all of my simple syrups and infusions. They come in two sizes and the new pour spouts are a game changer.
- Cone Strainer – from the size of this strainer to the ease of throwing it into the dishwasher, this might be the perfect strainer.
Preparing the Blood Orange Syrup
From start to finish, it will take you about an hour to make the blood orange syrup but half of that is cooling time. By including the peels and allowing the mixture to steep, you’ll maximize the flavor of the blood oranges. All fruit is different, but the two blood oranges I used yielded a half cup of juice.
Blood Orange Syrup
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 blood oranges
- Wash the oranges and peel or zest the peel, avoiding as much of the pith as you can.
- Cut the oranges in half and juice them into a medium sauce pan.
- Add the water, peels, and sugar to the same saucepan.
- Put the pan on a stove burner over medium heat and stir occasionally until the mixture reaches a low boil.
- Turn the burner off and move the pan off the burner to cool and marinate for 30 minutes.
- Strain through a metal cone strainer into a sealable container for continued cooling.
- Once cool, place in the refrigerator and keep for up to three weeks.
Making a Blood Orange Old Fashioned
After the syrup is made, the hard part is over. When you’re ready to make yourself a Blood Orange Old Fashioned, just grab your favorite whiskey, the syrup, and some bitters. I used one of my favorite Kansas City whiskeys. In order to punch up the orange flavor, I used Regans’ Orange Bitters. You could also use Angostura or something completely different. It’s up to you! For the picture perfect version, I suggest using a large clear ice cube and garnishing with a dried blood orange wheel.
Blood Orange Old Fashioned
- 2 oz whiskey
- 0.75 oz blood orange syrup
- 2 dashes orange bitters
- Add all ingredients to a mixing glass with ice.
- Stir for 20-30 seconds to properly dilute and chill the drink.
- Strain over a large ice cube and garnish with a dried blood orange (if you have one).
I hope you enjoy this bright and flavorful Blood Orange Old Fashioned. If you are looking for more Old Fashioned riffs, check out this recipe for a Grilled Pineapple Old Fashioned. Cheers!