Crafting a Perfect Valencia Orange Cocktail
La Bella Havana’s Jason Adolphus mashes a whole orange with orange vodka, elderflower liqueur and other ingredients for a tangy-sweet refresher.
It’s early March, and we’re slogging though winter’s final ravages, buoyed by the promise of that fiery orb. No, not the one rising from the East, but the one from the South—multitudes of them, actually: Valencia oranges, dawning daily this month from Florida. Super-sweet, extra- juicy, and mostly seedless, they’re the world’s most popular oranges, an enduring gift, like Banderas and Blahnik, from Spain.
Harvested only through spring, Valencias have a smooth, thin peel and a tsunami of nectar. Florida producers like Cross Creek Groves (crosscreekgroves.com) and Al’s Family Farms (alsfamilyfarms.com) can easily supply them. Ideal for slicing and squeezing, Valencias make salads sing (pairing with fennel makes perfect harmony) and sauces rock. For a real party, though, bring on the cocktails.
That’s what co-owner Jason Adolphus does daily at La Bella Havana (35 Main St, Yonkers 914-920-9777; labellahavana.com). And in the spotlight’s gleam these barren days is his Sunny Havana, a tropical swoon of mashed Valencias, citrus-y St-Germain liqueur, vodka, and soda. “We tried it with a regular navel orange,” he says, “but it was more bland. The Valencia was sweeter and tangier; it brought out the flavor of the other ingredients much better.” His bartenders agreed, Adolphus says, so who are we to doubt them? Head on down, order one for yourself, sway to some mambo, and soon you’ll swear that car motor revving outside sounds just like the Caribbean surf.
Courtesy of Jason Adolphus, La Bella Havana
(Makes one 10-oz cocktail)
1 Valencia orange, halved
3 oz Stoli Ohranj vodka
1 oz St-Germain liqueur
3 oz club soda
3 oz Sprite or 7UP
Place orange halves in a glass and mash. Add remaining ingredients and stir. Garnish with an