March 03, 2014

Burnt Orange Cocktail

The calendar says March, but the weather still says full winter.  The world is full of people hurrying to get out of the cold.  Your breath steams in front of you and then a gust of wind hits you and takes it away.  Noses numb and cheeks burn.  The bright sunshine and clear skies fool us into hoping for warmth.  

We need heat.  This cocktail was inspired by my previous citrus post.  As Alex finished his portion of bruleed clementines and sipped the juices that had dripped out, he casually mentioned “this orangey sugar would be really good with some bourbon”.  And the spark was lit.  

Caramelizing the sugar for the simple syrup adds a depth that regular simple syrup cannot.  Flaming the orange peels adds a smoky note.  And that amber colour is warmth for the eyes.  

We can’t make winter go away, but we can make this drink. 

Burnt Orange Cocktail

2 oz rye whiskey, such as Sazerac
1 oz Cointreau
1/2 oz burnt sugar syrup (recipe follows)
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Burnt orange peel for garnish

Combine all ingredients except garnish in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.  Shake gently until shaker is ice cold on the outside.  Strain into glass.  For garnish, peel a long, fairly thick, strip of orange zest from an orange using a vegetable peeler.  Roll tightly, squeezing some of the oils from the peel.  Place roll on a non-flammable surface and torch until black on the edges.  Do not over torch unless you want ash in your drink...

Burnt sugar syrup

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water

Over medium low heat, melt sugar in a saucepan, stirring occasionally.  At first, it will seem like it’s not doing anything.  Then it will seem like it’s turning into hard clumps.  But don’t worry, once it melts, the clumps will melt back in too.  Once the sugar is completely melted, it should be a deep amber colour.  Remove from heat and slowly add the water, stirring or whisking constantly.  The sugar will seize, but just keep stirring until it dissolves back in.  Let cool completely before using.  


  1. I am going to make the burnt simple syrup tonight for my old fashioned cocktails.

    1. Woo weekend preparations! Hope you enjoy!

  2. Could you substitute bourbon instead of rye whiskey?

    1. Of course! It's a little sweeter than rye so you may want to decrease the syrup or cointreau, but it's totally up to your taste. Cheers!