Caramelized Oranges Take Whiskey Cocktails To The Next Level

Whiskey is an excellent spirit to choose as the base of a cocktail. With a beautiful golden hue and a warm, rich flavor that is bursting with complexity, the liquor is versatile enough to work with many ingredients and assertive enough to bring definitive character to a drink. While this often means that you are able to keep whiskey cocktails fairly simple, it can also be an opportunity to build upon an already strong foundation to create something even more special. If you are the type of drinker who likes to elevate their liquor with creative ingredients, we recommend experimenting with caramelized oranges the next time you are mixing your whiskey.

Caramelized oranges are not an uncommon ingredient in other alcoholic beverages but they shine especially brightly when combined with whiskey. This is because of the sheer variety of tasting notes that can be found in any given whiskey — from dessert-like hints of butterscotch to woody notes of oak to, yes, even the flavors of caramel and citrus. The sweetness and acidity of caramelized oranges bring out the best of all of these flavors, either by highlighting those most similar to them or by creating contrast, which allows you to better appreciate the differences. As such, the addition is sure to create a novel drinking experience.

How to caramelize oranges

Caramelizing oranges is a relatively quick and easy process that will pay off tenfold when it comes time to make your cocktail. The basic technique is simply to make a caramel sauce, sautee your orange slices, and then combine the two ingredients in a pan. It is best to slice the oranges as rounds for the best visual effect and to keep the slices relatively thin so they don't crowd your drink. You may want to create an even more intense flavor by adding a bit of orange juice directly to your caramel sauce when you make it. Once the caramelized oranges are prepared, you can incorporate them into your cocktails either by adding them directly into your glass or by using them as a garnish.

Given the degree to which this upgrade enhances almost any whiskey cocktail, the possibilities for which drinks to include it in are vast. Some obvious choices include the classic old fashioned and the tangy whiskey sour, both of which often include a citrus garnish already and welcome the flavors of caramel and orange respectively. We also recommend playing with more adventurous combinations. Add these oranges to your Irish coffee to bring a touch of sweetness and a brighter acidity to the beverage or toss them into a Sazerac to make the bracing drink a little more approachable.