Blood orange season is painfully short, isn’t it? I see them in the market one day and the next they’re gone. Their scarcity makes me love these ruby-red beauties even more. They’re the perfect way to brighten a grey winter’s day.
Let’s talk about whiskey sours. This drink always makes me think of the bootlegging cowboys in the prohibition era Wild West. I don’t know why and I’m not even sure if this was served at all in bars of the Wild West – I think, more likely, they shot their whiskey straight – but it’s an image that I love to entertain. The product of an overactive imagination, I guess, heavily influenced by Brad Pitt’s character in Legends of the Fall. I mean, do you blame me?
Originally, a whisky sour is made with lemon juice and a dash of egg white to add a bit of foam to the top of the drink. I, however, find the thought of drinking raw eggs completely unappetizing. Unless your eggs are pristinely clean and fresh and from your own hens, or are farm-fresh from a farmer you know and trust, I would advise leaving them out. Absolutely do not use eggs from the supermarket – salmonella is not something you want to mess with.
Blood oranges are a little on the tart side, which makes them perfect for this drink. I add an additional squeeze of lemon to up the sour factor. Use any high quality American whiskey. I’ve fallen in love with this whiskey from Leopold Bros, which is made in small batches right here in Colorado. A splash of Cointreau adds complexity to the orange flavour and a hint of sweetness. As for simple syrup, don’t buy it from the store – it’s the simplest thing in the word to make. Just stir together equal parts water and white sugar and bring to a boil. This can be done on the stove or in the microwave. If you’re making a large quantity, it’s probably easier to make in a sauce pan on the stove. But, for me, I like to make only as much as I need at the time, so I mix the sugar and water in a mug and heat it in the microwave, just until the water boils (about a minute). Be sure to let the syrup cool to room temperature before using. When I made these whiskey sours for my husband and I, I used 1/4 cup each of sugar and water, and had a tiny bit of syrup leftover.
Blood Orange Whiskey Sour
(makes 1 drink)
When you juice the oranges and lemon, strain it through a fine mesh sieve before adding to the cocktail shaker. For an even clearer drink, strain the cocktail again as you pour it into the glass.
2 oz. blood orange juice
2 oz. high-quality American whiskey
1/2 oz. Cointreau
a squeeze of fresh lemon juice (approx. 1 tsp)
3/4 oz. simple syrup
1 slice blood orange, to garnish
Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice.
Add the orange juice, whiskey, Cointreau, lemon juice and simple syrup. Shake well until the drink is ice cold.
Place one large, cocktail ice cube in a rocks glass. Strain the drink into the glass. Garnish with a slice of blood orange.