Who doesn’t love orange juice? It’s perfect paired with breakfast or lunch (or even better, brunch), and goes spectacularly well with almost any liquor, liqueur, or bubbly. But you know what’s even better than the standard round or navel orange? The delectably sweet, tangy, gorgeously colored variety known as blood orange.
Hailing from Mediterranean climates, the blood orange gets its ruby-red hue thanks to pigments called anthocyanins that develop during hot days and cool nights. While uncommon in most citrus plants, these pigments are what give other types of produce their red- or blue-based hues, including cherries, raspberries, blueberries, cabbage, and eggplant.
On top of the vitamin C that’s also present in more standard varieties of oranges, these anthocyanins provide blood oranges with a host of health benefits such as fighting and preventing cancer cells, lowering the risk of heart disease, and preventing the buildup of bad cholesterol. What’s more, the saturated color is eye-catching in a cocktail, and the sweet, sour, almost berry-tinged flavor is devilishly delicious with nearly any spirit—even more so than your typical orange.
Don’t believe us? Try one of our five favorite blood orange juice-based cocktails below.
Blood Orange Whiskey Sour
Easy to make and hard to put down, a good whiskey sour is a mainstay for a reason. Put a fun spin on the classic by adding fresh blood orange juice to the whiskey, lemon, and sugar—just don’t forget the egg white for that luscious, frothy foam. See recipe
Bloody Orange Mary
It’s not often that you see tomato and orange juice come together, and it’s even less often that blood orange makes an appearance. But all that’s gone out the window. These acidic fruits play nicely together, especially when the tartness is toned down with horseradish and hot sauce. More of a tequila fan? Use that instead of vodka for a Bloody Orange Maria. See recipe
Blood Orange Rum Punch
Make a batch of this impossible-to-resist cocktail for your next big party. A play on the Mai Tai, this punch combines two types of rum, tart blood orange juice, almondy falernum, bright grenadine, and a hint of cinnamon to create a concoction that’s at once sweet, sour, and slightly spiced. See recipe
Blood Orange-Rosemary Gin Cocktail
This deliciously addictive and dangerous cocktail mixes the pine-like flavors of gin and rosemary with the sweetness of sugar, the bite of bitters, and the tartness of blood orange. The end result is a perfectly balanced drink that’s especially guaranteed to lift your spirits in the cold weather months. See recipe
Blood Orange Negroni
Even those who may not love the sweet-and-sour of blood orange are sure to fall head-over-heels for this cocktail. The Blood Orange Negroni (pictured above) uses the classic recipe of equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth, but adds another equal part of blood orange for a full-bodied, bitter-meets-sweet sip. See recipe
Photo credit: Courtesy of Feasting at Home