I've always lived in cold places. I was well into my twenties before I first saw citrus growing on a tree; it was nothing short of miraculous. But even under fluorescent grocery store lights, blood oranges, grapefruits, and Meyer lemons seem like small miracles, coming into season just as we're deep enough into winter that we start believing that nothing will ever come into season again. These booze-free drink recipes are a great excuse to treat yourself to some bright, fresh citrus.
Blood Orange Juliet
A Blood Orange Juliet is the drink equivalent of the person who completely rocks a high school reunion, showing up as a classier, strikingly prettier version of what everyone remembers from back in the day. More than once, I've splurged on good looking blood oranges but been mostly undgerwhelmed by what I've made with them. To remedy that here, I freeze up blood orange ice cubes to pack the finished product with flavor, rather than diluting the frothy frozen drink with water-based ice.
The most obvious accompaniment for a Blood Orange Juliet is a huge, butter-drenched pretzel, but this would be great with any salty, snacky food.
The Bird Dog
Salting fruit is no big secret. Growing up, my mom perfected a method of ripening cantaloupe under her bed until it was just this side of rotten. To counter the sweetness, she taught us to eat it with salt. For me, pairing salt with drippy, cloying melon made sense, but salt with something like grapefruit is a slightly harder sell.
Enter The Salty Dog, a classic three-ingredient cocktail of grapefruit juice, salt, and vodka that packs a surprising amount of umami. In the spirit of bringing out the savory side of fruit, I left out the vodka and added rooster sauce and brown sugar. The result is a alcohol-free beverage that can hold its own against any Bloody Mary on the brunch table.
Orange, Rosewater, and Mint Sparkler
If any bubbly orange drink has the chance of challenging the ubiquity of the mimosa, it's this one. Just enough rosewater—you'll smell it, but not taste it—and plenty of muddled mint elevate simple fresh-squeezed orange juice and seltzer to something bold, complex, and just plain refreshing. It goes without saying that this belongs at brunch, but I also really tend to crave drinks like this with spicy weeknight dinners when I don't feel like drinking alcohol.