Yesterday, walking through my parents’ backyard—which winds almost an acre behind their house—I realized that I completely take it for granted. I was fortunate enough to grow up with a backyard full of prolific citrus trees. These beautiful trees have limbs that sigh under the weight of grapefruit, oranges, tangerines, mandarin oranges, kumquats, and lemons.
When I was growing up, and still to this day, the fridge is always stocked with fresh juice that my dad lovingly hand squeezes every weekend. On the kitchen floor are galvanized buckets full of fruit for snacking. I think I got, like, 1 cold all through high school, most likely thanks to my daily high doses of vitamin C.
Citrus is innately Florida. Most of the old money here came from the citrus business, and most of the central part of the state where we live and where I grew up was, at one time, all orange groves. Even when I was in high school, there were still sprawling old groves that were eventually torn down for housing developments. (Though I’m fairly certain these groves had been overcome by citrus canker, a disease that renders the fruit too ugly to sell.) When I would drive home from college in the springtime, I’d roll down my windows when I got into town to smell the orange blossoms. Forever and ever, citrus will mean home to me.
I grabbed a few oranges from one of my parents’ trees yesterday…and on this gorgeous, blue-sky-perfect spring afternoon, I decided to use them to make a sunny cocktail. I don’t always love bourbon, but with fresh orange, it’s lovely. A few bubbles courtesy of some Perrier lightened it up just enough for an effervescent afternoon libation.
Sweet Orange + Bourbon Cocktail
1 ounce bourbon
3 ounces fresh orange juice
Pour bourbon over ice in a glass. Add orange juice. Top with as much sparkling water as you prefer (just taste as you go). Best enjoyed outside in the sun under blue skies.