Agent orange

The other side of OJ

Strega bartender Doug Dorman makes a Christmas Cookie, featuring America’s favorite breakfast juice.

Strega bartender Doug Dorman makes a Christmas Cookie, featuring America’s favorite breakfast juice.

Photo By amy beck

Orange juice, it’s not just for breakfast anymore.

While we’ve all experienced the citrusy fruit juice as an accompaniment to our morning cereal—and likely had it coupled with some bubbly for an a.m. buzz—the true vast appeal and variety of the beverage as an alcoholic mixer has come to my attention. It’s not always in the most likely combinations, either.

My initial fascination with OJ drinks came about after a long night of drinking with a friend. At breakfast the next day, instead of ordering the typical hangover cure, a Bloody Mary, she asked our server for a Coors Light and OJ.

“You mean like a glass of each?” asked the waitress.

“No, like mixed, half and half,” my friend answered.

The slightly perplexed waitress wandered off, surely to whisper in the back about the ghastly drink combo that had just been requested of her.

I simply ordered a Bloody Mary—and was a little disturbed. But upon the drink’s arrival, I had a sip from my friend’s glass out of morbid curiosity and found the combo surprisingly refreshing. When pressed how she thought to order the drink in the first place, she had a fairly reasonable explanation. “I like to have a beer in the morning, but after a night of drinking it can be a little too much, so orange juice kinda tames it down,” she said with a shrug.

I later found out the drink has a nickname all its own, referred to as either a Ghetto Mimosa, or for a local twist, a Sun Valley Mimosa.

The next strange OJ mix encounter was with the same friend a couple of weeks later. While everyone around us was ordering vodka tonics, she requested a Jameson and OJ. Once again, the bartender seemed sure he’d heard wrong. And once again, after a sip of the strange concoction, I was on team OJ.

“I gave up drinking soda for Lent one year,” my friend explained. “Orange juice was all I had to mix with.”

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Beyond the Screwdriver

The juice is featured in many, more universally tasty, drinks. Aside from the typical Screwdriver and Tang Bang—commonly referred to as the woman’s Car Bomb—local bars carry more inventive options.

At Chapel Tavern, you can get a Blood and Sand, which features whiskey, cherry liquor, Italian vermouth and orange juice.

Strega features the seasonal Christmas Cookie cocktail, made up of Sailor Jerry, Tuaca, Malibu Rum, OJ, cinnamon, and a sugar rim. The downtown bar, along with Chapel, has the advantage of a juicer. “People come to this place specifically for fresh squeezed orange juice,” says Strega owner Jeremy Morrow. “Orange juice out of a gun tastes like a big bag of dicks.”

Another advantage of adding orange juice to a bar’s inventory is the defusing factor of the fruit. Wes Ridenour, lead bartender at Irish pub Ceol, likes to serve it as a back. “I usually offer it as a chaser because it kind of neutralizes the burn,” he says.

So next time you find yourself at a bar sick of the usual rum and Coke, be brave and ask for something crazy like a Jameson and OJ—even if it turns out not to be your cup of tea, at least you got your vitamin C for the day.