I’ve been inspired by the cocktail recipes I’ve been seeing this season making use of blood orange, which is in peak form from January through March. (One example: the brûléed blood orange spiced winter gin and tonic at Craft & Cocktails.) So in addition to experimenting with “dressed can” cocktails this month, I’ve put together a couple of recipes of my own that feature blood orange. I now present the first of these, the Desert Orange:

Desert Orange

This cocktail combines flavors of smoke, spice, and citrus. It begins with mezcal as the base spirit, which provides the smoky flavor. Spice and savory flavors are provided by Ancho Reyes Verde liqueur and a tomatillo, tamarind and hibiscus shrub by Calvit's. And the citrus of course comes from freshly squeezed blood orange juice. To round off the drink, I added a bit of burnt sugar syrup from Tippleman's and Aztec Chocolate Bitters by Fee Brothers. I also salted the rim of the glass with pink Himalayan salt.

This is a great cocktail for February. The smoke and spice keep you warm, while the citrus foreshadows sunny summer days ahead – a margarita for winter, if you will. Here is the recipe:

Desert Orange


Enjoy the Desert Orange cocktail, which combines smoke, spice and citrus that takes advantage of blood orange season.

  • 2 oz. mezcal (I used Mezcal Vago Espadín)
  • 1/2 oz. Ancho Reyes Verde
  • 1/2 oz. Calvit's Tomatillo-Tamarind-Hibiscus Drinking Shrub
  • 1/2 oz. freshly squeezed blood orange juice
  • 1/4 oz. burnt sugar syrup (I used Tippleman's)
  • 1 dash Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters
  • blood orange wheel
  • pink Himalayan salt
  1. Salt the rim of a rocks glass with the salt. Add a large ice cube.
  2. Combine the mezcal, Ancho Reyes Verde, shrub, juice, syrup and bitters in a shaking tin with ice and shake vigorously.

  3. Strain into the glass and add an orange wheel as garnish.


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