Use Burnt Orange Peel To Elevate Your Coffee Cocktail

With the high of the espresso martini trend still lingering, coffee cocktails are getting a lot of attention. Mixologists are probably sick of shaking up the caffeinated concoction but that doesn't stop them from appeasing the crowd. But now, they're putting their own spin on it and one noteworthy rendition is orange, specifically of the smoked kind. 

While an orange essence isn't exclusive to coffee, the two unexpectedly pair together like peanut butter and jelly. And the tasty fusion of espresso and citrus isn't new, in fact, espresso has been served with a lemon or orange peel garnish around the world for ages: It's often associated with Italian culture, although the citrus addition has many alleged origin stories. Some say it began as a means to combat the bitterness of a less-than-par espresso while others say citrus once acted as a sanitizer for dirty cups in the World War II era, according to The Kitchn

Regardless, it has a powerful flavor that is beloved by many. And the extra step of lightly charring the peel works to release the oils and ultimately pack more flavor into the beverage, says Town and Country. The logic behind most mixologists is that if it tastes delicious in a glass of coffee, it will work just as well — if not better — incorporated into a cocktail. 

In this case, they're certainly not wrong.

A smokey orange twist is more than just a pretty garnish

Many hip establishments explore these fun techniques, serving up smoking cocktails in distinctive glassware and garnishing coupes with burnt rinds of fruit. Arunas Bruzas, the head bartender of The Blanchard in Chicago, swears by the trick when making an old-fashioned to really release the orange aroma into the drink (via Wine Enthusiast). But when it comes to the magical union of smokey orange and coffee, a popular caffeinated rendition of the Manhattan may have been one of the first. 

Liquor says the well-known cocktail dubbed "The Revolver" blended these flavors together when it emerged in the early 2000s bar scene of San Francisco. Crafted by established bartender Jon Santer, the cocktail combines bourbon, coffee liquor, orange bitters, and of course, the final touch: a burnt orange peel. According to the outlet, this last step adds "warm, fiery notes of citrus oil." It might seem like a stunt reserved for the more experienced, but the technique "can be achieved without having any pyrotechnic expertise." 

To execute the maneuver, gently squeeze the orange peel with the outer skin facing the flame, and voila, a smokey orange essence has entered the room.