The Screwdriver is a refreshing and versatile cocktail to enjoy anytime. Uncover the intriguing origins behind this classic concoction, master its simple yet delightful recipe and explore exciting variations that will take your drink to new heights.
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Screwdriver cocktail recipe
One of the first cocktails many people learn is the screwdriver. With just two ingredients — vodka and orange juice — it’s easy to love.
But… it’s also easy to get wrong. It’s all about getting the proper ratio, as with any two-ingredient drink. And the quality of ingredients matters more than you’d think.
This recipe for the Screwdriver is quick, easy and perfectly balanced. The sweetness of the orange juice tamps down the sharpness of the alcohol.
Once you have the recipe down, try the delicious variations on this orange juice cocktail, such as the Fuzzy Navel and the Harvey Wallbanger.
Why you’ll love this recipe
Also called the Vodka and Orange, he Screwdriver is a classic cocktail that any vodka lover should know.
- Made with just two ingredients, it is one of the simplest cocktails.
- It is bright, refreshing and perfect for summertime.
- It’s a great drink to order on an airplane, at a bar or for a brunch cocktail. Or make at home for a quick drink!
What is a Screwdriver drink?
The Screwdriver is, a simple, classic, easy cocktail made with orange juice and vodka. The drink is sometimes called a Vodka Orange or Vodka and Orange.
Like many drinks, its history is murky. According to VinePair, one story suggests its history dates back to World War II when American marines would spike their OJ with vodka.
Another story references a 1949 edition of Time magazine that says, “In the dimly lighted bar of the sleek Park Hotel, Turkish intelligence agents mingle with American engineers and Balkan refugees, drinking the latest Yankee concoction of vodka and orange juice, called a ‘screwdriver.'”
Tools & glassware
You might also want to have sharp knife and a citrus juicer on hand to get fresh orange juice.
$29.95 ($29.95 / Count)
Here are the simple ingredients you need to make a classic screwdriver cocktail:
Keep your favorite bottle on hand for mixing up any vodka cocktail. And always use the best ingredients you can afford. Cheap vodka can taste more alcoholic than quality, higher-end vodka.
A bottle in the $10-$20 range is ideal. Some great brands are Grey Goose, Absolut, Deep Eddy and Tito’s, but on occasion I will splurge on Reyka or something local.
For fun, you could play with flavored vodkas in these easy cocktails. Try citrus vodkas or something spicy like hatch chile vodka.
Don’t miss Vodka 101 where you can learn more about which bottles to buy.
If you have the time and the means, fresh orange juice is perfectly delicious in a cocktail. If not, it’s totally OK to use store-bought orange juice. Even Sunny D will work.
Low or no-pulp juice is ideal because the pulp will otherwise float to the top in the drink and it can ruin the texture. If you do end up buying orange juice with pulp, you can simply straighten it out as you pour into the glass. This is also key when making your own, too.
Another type of juice would be the perfect addition or substitution. Try blood orange juice, tangerine juice or grapefruit juice instead of orange for a delicious citrus twist.
The last unofficial ingredient is ice! You will want to add plenty of ice cubes to the drink to keep it cold. Or you could make one big ice cube! Check out my guide to making clear ice at home.
You can dress up the Screwdriver with garnishes if you like. Try one or a few of these:
- orange slice or orange wedge
- cocktail cherry
- lime wedges
- orange bitters
Variations and substitutions
Try one of these variations of the Screwdriver drink:
Pink Screwdriver: Add a splash of grenadine to the drink.
Rum Screwdriver: Make this drink with rum instead of vodka.
Tequila Screwdriver: Use tequila instead of vodka. It’s not too far off from a Tequila Sunrise.
Fuzzy Navel: If you make the drink with 1 ounce of peach schnapps and 1 ounce of vodka, it is called a Fuzzy Navel.
Harvey Wallbanger: To make this variation, prepare this drink with ½ ounce of Galliano liqueur and 1 ½ ounce of vodka.
Sloe Screw: Use 1 ounce vodka and 1 ounce sloe gin.
Madras: This drink is similar to the Screwdriver but also includes cranberry juice.
How to make a Screwdriver drink
When making this recipe, it is important to measure out the proper ratio of orange juice to alcohol, so that the drink is perfectly balanced and not too boozy or too citrusy.
Follow these simple steps to make this simple Screwdriver drink recipe:
- First, add ice to a rocks glass or highball glass.
- Then add your vodka.
- Over top, pour in the orange juice.
- Give it a gentle stir, and garnish, with a piece of orange, and a sprig of mint if you like.
Tips & tricks
It is important to get the ratio right. Make sure you use an 1:2.5 or 1:3 ratio.
Spring for a quality vodka. The best you can afford should be perfect, but don’t buy the cheapest.
Don’t use orange juice with pulp. If you do, be prepared to strain it out yourself for the best texture.
Fresh orange juice makes a big difference in flavor.
What to serve with a Screwdriver
Use a one to 2 ½ or one to three ratio of vodka to orange juice for a screwdriver.
Rum and tequila will both work instead of vodka in a screwdriver. Gin will add a more herbal flavor as well. You can also use peach schnapps, which is called a Fuzzy Navel.
More orange cocktails
More vodka cocktails
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- 2 ounces vodka
- 5 ounces fresh orange juice
- orange slice for garnish
- Place ice into a rocks glass or highball glass.
- Pour in vodka.
- Top with orange juice.
- Stir gently.
- If desired, garnish with a slice of orange and a sprig of mint.
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