Recipes History

Bitter Orange Cocktails

Bitter Orange Cocktails

What do you do with bitter/sour oranges? Due to their acid, they’re probably not anybody’s favorite fruit to peel and eat. But that abrasive personality makes them ideal for marinades, marmalades, salad dressings, sauces and spreads, homemade bitters and cocktails.

Like other citrus, the bitter orange is native to southeast Asia, but it spread to Spain in the 10th Century and later to Mexico and the Caribbean as a side effect of colonialism in the new world.

January is the best time to look for Seville, Chinotto or Bitter Oranges in the northern countries.

I found a bunch recently and have been using them as part of a cocktail that one of my friends concocted while living in the seaside city of Izmir in Turkey. She calls it the “Izmirly” and it’s fast, flexible and easy to make once you have the right ingredients.

Like many fresh cocktails, the ingredients are local/seasonal, so what’s easy to find in Turkey may not be so accessible in Canada, but if you get lucky with a batch of bitter oranges, you’re half-way to victory.

My friend makes this cocktail with Bourbon whiskey and sweetened pomegranate syrup (which is fresh, zippy and delightful) but I’ve been drinking it with Scotch and unsweetened pomegranate syrup, and with those ingredients, it comes out more like a whiskey sour. Either way, it’s fun and flexible!

Izmirly Cocktails

(2 servings)

  • 1 bitter orange, halved, seeds removed
  • 2 teaspoons pomegranate syrup
  • 2 oz whiskey, preferably Bourbon
  • Seltzer water or carbonated water
  • 2 lime wedges as garnish (optional)
  1. Fill 2 rocks glasses 3/4 full with ice cubes
  2. Add the 1 teaspoon of pomegranate syrup and the juice of half a bitter orange to each glass
  3. Divide the whickey and add 1 oz whiskey to each glass.
  4. Stir well to incorporate the pomegranate syrup.
  5. Fill the remainder of the space in the glasses with seltzer/carbonated water.
  6. Add a lime wedge as garnish to the side of each glass (if desired).


Miss Ginsu

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