Orange Crush Cocktail

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  • I don’t share too many cocktail recipes on our page, but this Orange Crush is special and despite being easy to make, actually has a lot of thought behind it.

    Orange Crush with juicer in the background

    So here we go… easy instructions for the best Orange Crush Cocktail recipe using fresh oranges, vodka and special liquor to make yours the bomb!

    Orange Crush Drink

    I honestly don’t drink cocktails too much, mostly because I like to eat calories instead of drink them and also because I am way too lazy to be shaking, blending and pouring. Instead, I pop a bottle of wine and I’m already on my way to relaxation town. It’s either that or a Dirty Shirley or spoked Italian Cream Soda.

    But an Orange Crush is just as much a Maryland cocktail as crab cakes are a state dish. You won’t find many bars, in the city or on the shore, that don’t have their own citrus juicer proudly displayed. It’s not just a refreshing summer drink, it is an “anytime of the year drink”.

    Zulay kitchen citrus juicer

    And the moment you see it, you know, they make crushes. And it is a way of life.

    PRO TIP: Fresh squeezed orange juice has more robust flavor and better nutritional value.

    It used to be that you didn’t even need to specify your flavor of crush. In Baltimore, they were orange. You can ask for a grapefruit crush, but know that the chances of them having fresh grapefruit are slim to none. Now days they make them with pineapple, lemon and even limes

    Wire bowl of fresh oranges

    The chances that there are bags of fresh oranges are, however, HUGE. I have no clue how this orange juice cocktail came to be one of our state staples. Oranges aren’t native to the state. Screw drivers aren’t a typical happy indulgence.

    Where Did the Orange Crush Start?

    I mean, we serve our fair share of mimosas, Bloody Mary’s and vodka drink recipes, but doesn’t everyone? Rumor has it that is started at the Harborside Bar in Ocean City, but who knows, many want to claim it as their own.

    Fresh orange cut in half

    Some argue that orange crushes are an Ocean City thing and others, a Baltimore thing and some even an Appapolis thing. And even then Waterman’s in Virginia claims to be the original.

    But does it really matter as long as you have one in hand?

    I think they are enjoyed so much because they are refreshing. And let’s all be honest… they are flipping delicious and anything made with fruit juice has some nutritional value. Hello, vitamin C is good for the immune system and aging.

    Fresh orange being juiced

    Orange Crush Recipe

    So how to you make an orange crush? It’s simple, but the most important ingredient is fresh orange. But what type of orange?

    garnished orange crush

    Any type you like! Valencia oranges and navel oranges are by far the most popular and the easiest to procure, but you can use more excotic types as well. You can even use blood oranges!

    The only type of orange I shy away from using are mandarin oranges and only because they are smaller and don’t have as much fresh orange juice.

    Orange slices and straws in an orange crush.

    Juicing your own oranges is imperative to making this a smashing drink, so get yourself one of these handy dandy citrus juices that aren’t only pretty, but totally functional and easy to use.

    From there, a crush is different from a screw drivers because you not only add vodka, you also add lemon-lime soda. Or any other bubbly drink (see notes below!).

    Orange crush ingredients

    You can use regular vodka (Titos is my favorite!) or use an orange vodka, even lemon infused vodka or a splash of limoncello. Perfect for a hot summer day.

    Liquor Options

    A really good orange crush will also have additional liquor added, but recipes differ. Here are the most popular:

    • Cointreau
    • Triple Sec
    • Grand Marnier
    • Orange Curacao

    Lastly, be mindful of the ice. It is an orange CRUSH, so crushed ice is best. Fill that pint glass to the brim with real, crushed ice.

    Crushed ice on burlap

    Common Questions

    How much juice is in one fresh orange? If you use a citrus juicer like this, approximately 1/2 cup in each large navel orange. If you do it the old school way, you’ll get about 1/4 cup per orange.

    Can I use grapefruit? Sure! Then you’ll have a grapefruit crush. Still delicious, little more bitter.

    orange crush on a counter

    Can I use pre-squeezed orange juice? No trying to downplay pre-squeezed OJ here. There are some really great varieties, but any citrus starts to lose flavor the moment it is squeezed.

    This is why I insist people spend the extra pennies and take the extra time to buy and squeeze lemons and limes.

    The same goes for an orange crush. There is a massive difference between freshly squeezed orange juice and carton.

    You’ll even see a difference in color. Fresh juice is a deeper brilliant orange.

    Orange juice in a measuring cup

    How do I make a virgin orange crush? Simple, just use orange juice and lemon-lime soda.

    What can I substitute for lemon-lime soda? You can use any bubbly liquid that is a neutral base or flavoring. Tonic water, seltzer water, flavors of sparkling water, they will all do.

    Some use mint, why don’t you? Mint looks pretty. It smells pretty, but it doesn’t belong in an Orange Crush.

    In fact bartenders put aromatics, like mint, at the top of your drink so when you dip into drink you get a deep fragrant scent that is meant to enhance your beverage. Smell and taste go hand-in-hand, of course.

    But if you are sipping on a delicious orange juice cocktail, then why mask the sweet citrus smell with mint? Use an orange slice or a maraschino cherry as a garnish instead.

    Orange crush cocktail for pinterest


    Juicer- I like like the hand tool one. It comes in fun colors, is super easy to clean, is easy to store and not obnoxiously oversized and does a get good job getting every little drop of juice out of each orange.

    Jigger– to measure alcohol. Or guess-timate, your call!

    Cocktail Shaker– I don’t find this necessary. You can toggle it between two glasses or just give it a stir.

    Close up of orange crush cocktail

    If you have some leftover orange juice, use it in these recipes:

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    orange crush on a counter
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    4.8 from 20 votes

    Orange Crush Cocktail

    Easy instructions for the best Orange Crush Cocktail recipe using fresh oranges, vodka and special liquor to make yours the bomb!
    Prep Time4 mins
    Total Time4 mins
    Course: Drinks
    Cuisine: American
    Keyword: orange crush
    Servings: 1
    Calories: 345kcal


    • 1 orange , freshly juiced*
    • 1- 2 ounces vodka
    • 1 ounce triple sec
    • 3 ounces lemon-lime soda or sparkling water**
    • orange wedges or maraschino cherry for garnish


    • Fill a pint glass with crushed ice.
    • Pour vodka and other liquor into the glass.
    • Add freshly squeezed orange juice.
    • Top it off with lemon-lime soda (might not need the full amount).
    • Garnish with an orange wedge and/or maraschino cherry.
    • Drink immediately!
    • If you’ve tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was!



    *Approximately 1/2 cup of orange juice.
    **You might not need the full amount, this depends on the size of your glass, amount of ice and fresh orange juice.


    Calories: 345kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 3mg | Potassium: 237mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 21g | Vitamin A: 295IU | Vitamin C: 70mg | Calcium: 52mg
    Close up of orange crush cocktail recipe for pinterest
    image of jessica formicola

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