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Cara Cara Cocktail

February 14, 2013

Cara Cara Orange CocktailPin it!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

The following post and recipe has little-to-nothing to do with the fact that I happen to be posting it on this, the 14th of February, but since I forgot to prepare anything heart-shaped or chocolatey in advance, let’s just pretend these cocktails are Valentine’s-Day-appropriate. (They are, after all, a little pink-ish, and– more importantly– best enjoyed with someone you love.)

Assuming anyone out there is even keeping tabs on me and my blog-related promises, you may remember back when I said some cocktails would be “coming soon” to my blog.

So… it turned out that was a lie.

Cara Cara Orange Cocktail with Homemade Grapefruit Bitters

I just know so little about fancy drinks or drink-making. My go-to cocktail (both at home and when I’m out) is a Gin & Tonic. When I want a little variety (and a little less sugar) then I order a Mojito or a Salty Dog instead.* But that’s about my range.

Cara Cara Orange Cocktail

However, as fate would have it, two auspicious events led me to create the first cocktail to appear on my blog other than sangria:

  1. My friend Tarah gave me a Christmas gift of homemade grapefruit hibiscus bitters!
  2. I discovered cara cara oranges (and made a Cara Cara Orange Chocolate Cake).

It was meant to be.

Cara Cara Orange Cocktail with Homemade Grapefruit Bitters

As I rambled on about in my chocolate cake post, cara cara oranges might resemble rosy mini grapefruits when you slice into them, but they are sweet and floral with no hints of bitterness. They are also incredibly juicy– the better for making cocktails with!

Cara Cara Orange CocktailPin it.

I balanced the juiced cara cara oranges with the tartness of fresh lemon juice paired with vodka, but I think the bitters made the drink. (Tarah created them by infusing a high-proof alcohol with hibiscus petals and grapefruit rind.) Just a dash graced the cocktail with an enticingly bittersweet aftertaste; I should know, because I scientifically taste-tested the drink, with and without the bitters.

Cara Cara Orange Cocktail

The refreshing drink is reminiscent of a Salty Dog (without the salt) or, admittedly, a screwdriver (without the… screw?). It’s like a sweeter, rosier Lemon Drop. (Have I mentioned that I don’t know much about cocktails?)

Since my Cara Cara Orange Chocolate Cake blog post, I’ve since learned that I was enjoying (countless) rather small cara cara oranges; some of them are actually much bigger. They’re not quite as large as a small grapefruit but they are hefty among their oranger relatives. This is why I’ve included the note about “1-2 oranges” in the ingredients lists below– it depends how big your oranges are!

Cara Cara Orange Cocktail

If you’re up for squeezing your own orange juice (which takes several minutes) but not for making your own bitters (which takes up to several weeks), then any store-bought grapefruit bitters will do, hibiscus-y or not.

And don’t give up on making your own cocktails just because you don’t own a cocktail shaker– I don’t either! My solution? Pour all of the ingredients into a mason jar and add a few ice cubes. Close the lid, give it a few vigorous shakes, then pour the drink through a fine metal strainer (like a mesh colander or tea strainer). That seemed to work just fine!

Cara Cara Orange Cocktail - Mason Jar as a Cocktail Shaker

This cocktail was such a hit that we sacrificed a grapefruit to make a second sour version, which was just as delicious, if not more so, than the original lemony rendition. (I’m not even going to tell you how many cara cara oranges we sacrificed, or how many of these drinks we’ve made…)

Cara Cara Orange CocktailPin it!

* I moved to Japan not that long after turning 21 in the states, i.e., with about zero knowledge of bars/bar culture (in the U.S., that is… let’s not bring up that semester I’d already spent in Spain!), so when I first discovered the delicious Japanese cocktail called the Soruti Doggu, a delightful mix of grapefruit juice and vodka with salt around the rim, I assumed it was, you know, a Japanese thing. Turns out Salty Dogs exist in bars everywhere… and that’s okay by me.

Cara Cara Orange CocktailPin it.

Print these recipes. (PDF)


Cara Cara Cocktail (2 ways)

Cara Cara Cocktail (The Instant Classic) – Ingredients:

~ 3 oz. fresh cara cara orange juice (from ~1-2 oranges)
~ 1 oz. fresh lemon juice (from ~½ lemon)
~ 1 oz. simple syrup (see below for instructions to make your own)
~ 1½ oz. vodka
~ 2 dashes grapefruit bitters

The Cara Cara Sour (not pictured) – Ingredients:
~ 2 oz. fresh cara cara orange juice (from ~1 orange)
~ 3 oz. fresh grapefruit juice (from ~½ grapefruit)
~ ¾ oz. simple syrup
~ 1¾ oz. vodka
~ 2 dashes grapefruit bitters

How to make it:

1. Make simple syrup: For approximately 2 ounces of simple syrup, combine 4 Tbsp. sugar with 2 Tbsp. water in a very small saucepan. Heat gently, stirring slowly, to dissolve the sugar into the water. Then bring to a strong simmer and remove from the heat. Allow to cool before using (transfer to a another container to speed up the cooling time).

2. Juice the cara cara oranges and lemon or grapefruit. Strain the pulp and seeds from the juice, or wait and strain the entire drink after shaking with ice.

3. Combine all ingredients and shake with ice in a cocktail shaker or a mason jar. Strain and pour into cocktail glasses with or without ice. Garnish with a cara cara orange slice.

Print these recipes! (PDF)

Cara Cara Orange Cocktail

Cara Cara Orange CocktailPin it!

Related recipe posts:
> Sangria recipe (Tapas party)
> Cara Cara Orange Chocolate Cake
> Mango Lassi (and Mango Lassi Muffins)

26 Comments leave one →
  1. February 14, 2013 9:07 am

    I accidentally bought a bag of cara caras last week–happy accident, that! Your cocktail sounds lovely–nice and balanced, which most are not, more’s the pity–about the only thing I might change would be to make it with vanilla vodka to balance the acidity of the citrus. But, then, I have a raging sweet tooth and think vanilla vodka makes most cocktails better (not all, though–I’ve found a few where straight vodka was, indeed, better).

    • February 14, 2013 9:35 am

      That’s a nice idea for a variation! I haven’t really enjoyed vanilla vodka the few times I’ve tasted it, but I also have a sweet tooth and like my cocktails on the sweet side… (hence the simple syrup despite the use of already-sweet orange juice). I bet the vanilla would complement the citrus.

  2. February 14, 2013 10:50 am

    Reblogged this on gracegothealthy and commented:

  3. tarah permalink
    February 14, 2013 10:59 am

    yay, i made the blog! and your drink sounds great, of course!

  4. February 14, 2013 12:07 pm

    I love gin and tonics and mojitos, so first I need to give the Salty Dog a try, since you mention those three in one sentence. And I guess I would love this cocktail, I have just started to read about making your own bitters, I really need to get into that soon.

    • February 14, 2013 12:35 pm

      Thanks for commenting! I also keep meaning to make my own bitters, but thanks to my friend’s gift, there’s less of a rush for that now. :)

      Also I don’t think Salty Dogs are all that comparable to Gin & Tonics or Mojitos (other than the fact that I love all three), since rather than being clear and a little bubbly/sweet, they are basically mostly juice (like the Cara Cara cocktail) with vodka & a touch of salt. But I guess all three drinks do have a balanced sour/bitter flavor in common; Salty Dogs just get that from grapefruit juice rather than from lime (and they’re so good! I hope you get a chance to try one soon).

  5. February 14, 2013 3:44 pm

    Hi Allison, those drinks do sound delicious! I can’t drink one for another 2 years which is a pity so could you do a similar recipe but for hot toddies? I’ve had little success making them and because they’re supposed to be good for you I need a way of dissolving the honey without using boiling water as this destroys the nutrients. How would you make one?

    • February 16, 2013 2:46 pm

      I’ve actually never had a hot toddy so I’m not really sure! I think you just combine hot water, whiskey, and a sweetener (i.e., they’re also not non-alcoholic). Any beverage of hot water with (a little fresh lemon and) honey stirred into it should be good for your throat though, regardless of how many nutrients you’re getting from it!

  6. February 14, 2013 4:07 pm

    Great post. We love the Cara Caras and for this drink the vodka and grapefruit / bitters combo sounds very tasty (we will try!).

  7. February 15, 2013 9:18 am

    Okay where is the love button? I can imagine the freshness – so delicious Allison!

  8. February 21, 2013 2:02 pm

    I don’t drink much alcohol (I got drunk with three sips of wine last night), but I love cara cara orange! In Monterey where we visited last weekend, we bought cara cara orange white balsamic vinaigrette! I’m so excited to open and taste it. :)

    • February 22, 2013 4:47 pm

      Oo yum, cara cara orange white balsamic vinaigrette sounds delicious! I recently bought a fruity white vinegar that sounds similar (it’s called “mimosa vinegar” but I think it has more hints of grapefruit than orange), which is SO good whisked with olive oil, salt, and pepper as a nice, light, and tangy salad dressing!

  9. February 22, 2013 4:27 am

    Waw! A lovely cocktail this surely is! Yummy Yummy too!

  10. March 8, 2013 7:58 pm

    Homemade grapefruit hibiscus bitters? Oh my, I bet that stuff is beeeeeyond delicious!

    • March 10, 2013 2:15 pm

      Yep! Haha, well it’s not like I’ve tasted the bitters on their own, although that’s not a bad idea… but they definitely perked up this cocktail (as I mentioned, I did a highly scientific taste test!).

      I have good friends. :)

  11. April 20, 2013 9:13 am

    Hi, your blog made me interested in cara cara oranges (I never knew about them before). I bought some the other day, and they were delicious! Thank you for sharing about these new hybrid oranges (hybrid with Brazilian varieties?)

    • April 20, 2013 4:26 pm

      That’s so nice to hear that you got to try out cara cara oranges because of my blog. :) They’re so good, aren’t they!? I didn’t know they were a hybrid variety though. I haven’t lived in California for very many years, so I’m continually surprised by all the amazing local produce.


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