Bartender Jonathan Hendrix at Julep Cocktail Club in Westport has a sentimental streak. Somewhere in his childhood, he must have fallen in love with an Orange Julius, the quintessential creamy and refreshing shopping-mall treat. “We were looking for a companion to one of our new desserts, the Mint Julep Panna Cotta. The Orange Julius, which I find irresistible, fit the desired flavor profile,” Hendrix says.
In case you’re not familiar, the Orange Julius is a creamy, orange-juice beverage that originated at a juice stand in Los Angeles in the 1920s, became an almost instant success, and found a home in shopping malls around the country. Originally created with egg whites, milk and a little ice, it was designed to make OJ seem less acidic and more “fun” to drink. It has since been mostly replaced by juice bars and smoothie stands but can still be found in or near a Dairy Queen (who purchased the Julius concept).
The ingredients in the cocktail are equally interesting. Orange blossom water—if you’re not familiar, it tastes, or rather smells, of orange flowers and always reminds me of orange Tootsie Roll Pops—is a distillate of orange flowers used in many cuisines of the Mediterranean and Middle East. Coco Lopez is a sweet Puerto Rican synthesis of coconut milk and cane sugar responsible for the creation of the Pina Colada. The simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar), lemon juice and Cognac you most likely know.
For bartender Hendrix and general manager Chris Davies, it’s a cocktail that will “make you feel like you’re on a tropical beach,” and one you’ll want to sip while you enjoy an amazing mint-julep panna cotta. And it just might take you back to a bit of your childhood.
Combine all of the ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake, then strain over crushed ice into a highball glass. Top with a splash of soda water. Garnish with a strip of orange peel and a fresh mint sprig. Sip.