You Should Be Adding Orange Blossom Water To Your Tequila Sunrise

NOLA foodies may recognize orange blossom water from the Ramos Gin Fizz. It's a staple ingredient in Pan De Muerto and countless Turkish, Persian, Arabic, and Moroccan dishes, too. In short, if you haven't been working with orange blossom water, you're overdue. Not to be confused with orange extract, with orange blossom water, the blossoms of the bitter orange tree are boiled and steam-distilled in water. In other words, the ingredient is made from the petals of the tree, not from the actual fruit. The resulting flavor is perfumy, floral, and citrusy, more light and bright than acidic, like an orange rind.

When used in a Tequila Sunrise cocktail, sweet-bitter orange blossom water creates a less sugary, more mature flavor profile as well as a thinner mouthfeel than classic orange juice alone. For this tip, you aren't substituting the orange juice in your Tequila Sunrise altogether, rather, you are diluting and complicating the juice with a splash of orange blossom water for a more dimensional flavor profile.

This lovely little ingredient goes a long way and imparts a deceptively strong flavor (think rosewater). Start with ½ teaspoon per drink and adjust to taste from there. Orange blossom water is available online or from many Middle Eastern specialty grocery stores.  Cortas is a popular brand; Nielsen-Massey and Spice House make bottled offerings, as well. You can also make your own at home, provided you aren't intimidated by a little DIY steam distillation.

Orange you glad it's cocktail hour?

A splash of orange blossom water is all it takes to assemble a flavorful Tequila Sunrise. The maraschino cherry garnish is made extra delicious when juxtaposed with the light, sweet-bitter orange blossom water. You could even use a simple homemade grenadine, if you're feeling ambitious.

This tip isn't just for Tequila Sunrises. Orange blossom water will add a delicate citrus note to any tequila-based cocktail. Whip up an orange margarita with tequila, Triple Sec, orange blossom water, orange juice, and lime juice. Bonus points if you garnish with an orange wheel and a fresh calendula flower. You could also make an avant-garde blood orange Paloma using freshly squeezed blood oranges, reposado tequila, agave nectar, orange blossom water, and a splash of lemon-lime soda stirred in a rocks glass over ice.

Orange blossom water would provide a welcome light dryness in the tropical Acapulco cocktail. This drink combines reposado tequila, gold rum, grapefruit juice, pineapple juice, and a generous slug of simple syrup; a teaspoon of orange blossom water would round out the sweet, boozy profile. You could also make a refreshing Tequila Spritz with orange blossom water, Aperol, blanco tequila, fresh lemon juice, and Prosecco or sparkling water. For a truly impressive finisher, take a cue from Mediterranean culinary stylings and pair your tequila orange blossom cocktails with complementary spices. To do it, simply rim your glass in a flavorful mixture of granulated sugar and dried anise, cinnamon, or cardamom.