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Screwdriver Cocktail Recipe

The Screwdriver is an absolute classic, and you might know it as vodka-orange. It’s got a different feel to it than cranberry-vodka, starting with the fact that fresh orange juice is going to work better than fresh cranberry juice. It’s also got a funny story for why it’s named this way. 

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What is a Screwdriver?

The Screwdriver is a very old cocktail, or rather a highball (or long drink), and it’s one of the most basic drinks but any bar worth its salt absolutely needs to have it on the menu. There’s something about the simplicity of vodka and orange juice that makes the Screwdriver a fan favorite and you can’t go wrong with it. 

The name also helps, and it’s the result of one of many origin stories. The one that gained the most traction is the one claiming that the first person to mix vodka and orange juice didn’t have a spoon lying around, so used a screwdriver instead. Some say the name actually comes from the way vodka can do your head in.

Like many (or most) cocktail names, it doesn’t necessarily have to have anything to do with the drink, but it has to sound cool or interesting. And that it does. Regardless of the actual origin, today’s Screwdriver is well loved and well known and it’s so simple you don’t need any special equipment to make one at home. 

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Screwdriver Cocktail Recipe

Yield: 1
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 2 minutes

The classic vodka orange, stirred with a screwdriver.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 oz vodka
  • 3 oz orange juice (to top)
  • orange garnish

Instructions

  1. Build in ice0filled highball glass.
  2. Pour in vodka, then orange juice, stir.
  3. Garnish with orange wheel or wedge.

Notes

  • You can also build this in a shaker, shake, then strain into the glass for more aeration.
  • The quality of the drink is entirely dependent on your orange juice quality. Get good oranges, or a very good OJ.

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When is this drink best ?

The Screwdriver is a very versatile drink and you can easily serve it at something like Friendsgiving, brunch, dinner, weddings, poolside bars, or any place you think you’d enjoy fresh orange juice. 

My thoughts on Screwdriver

I liked Screwdriver, especially as a highball that can get you a nice buzz. Sometimes sipping on something with low alcohol during dinner or lunch just hits the spot. The fresh orange juice is a real highlight here, since it doesn’t make the drink so flat. I’m not talking about carbonation here, but there’s an acidity in fresh OJ that you can’t find in cartons. 

screwdriver making

If you like Screwdriver, you might also like…

Garibaldi – a Screwdriver but with orange aperitif instead (Aperol or Campari)

Mimosa – a classier Screwdriver, with sparkling wine instead of vodka 

Notes, substitutes, and tips

You can keep this simple (as it is), or you can dress it up a little with a bit of triple sec if you want to add a bit of extra flavor. The vodka won’t have a very strong flavor so the overarching theme here is the orange juice. 

Don’t underestimate the power of fresh orange juice. The best oranges for this are navel oranges, but the juice from a navel orange can get a bit bitter after a couple of hours. Always squeeze fresh !

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