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If you're a raging alcoh...err...casual drinker like myself, there's no denying the staying power of the classic screwdriver. While the origins of the cocktail are somewhat murky (legend has it, it was created by a group of aviators back in 1949), they're pretty much a staple of any vodka drinker's repertoire. Even if you're not necessarily a fan of vodka itself, the marriage between orange juice and the liquor is one of legends. Considering that orange juice all but completely drowns out the taste of vodka (well, depending on how much vodka you use), it really is a match made in alcoholic heaven.
Drinking screwdrivers EVERY time you decide to get a little inebriated can get old, fast. Sure, it's still passable, but true cocktail connoisseurs always like to spice up their beverages—both literally and figuratively.
While the screwdriver might be rudimentary in nature (it's literally two ingredients), there are a few ways to improve on the recipe. So we'll take a look at some of the different takes on screwdriver cocktails, and you can be the judge on which ones add to the experience, and which ones take away from it. Chances are, you'll find that most fit under the category of the former.
Use freshly squeezed orange juice.
A screwdriver is definitely one of the easier vodka cocktail recipes everyone should know, but that doesn't mean it doesn't get a bit stale after a while. My first suggestion might seem like more common sense than anything else, but that's not always the case. Most people go with store bought orange juice when making the signature drink, but if you find yourself getting bored with screwdrivers and are too lazy to make yourself anything else, maybe going with some all natural, hand-squeezed orange juice could be the way to go. You may have to make that yourself, but in the end, it's probably worth the effort.
Try using flavored vodka.
Flavored vodka is also another way to make your screwdriver a little better. The extra flavor added to the vodka could also help offset the mundane taste of a screwdriver. Something like Absolut Grapefruit or Peach Ciroc could bode well for your overall drinking experience.
Add a liqueur.
Adding an Italian liqueur is a good idea on two fronts—it's spicing up your drink AND getting you more drunk. What better combination can you get?
In all seriousness though, adding liqueur isn't necessarily a new idea—there's literally already this kind of screwdriver recipe in existence. The Harvey Wallbanger simply combines a classic screwdriver with the Italian liqueur, Galliano, making for a pretty delicious, not to mention strong, cocktail.
You'd be surprised just how much a garnish actually helps out a cocktail; especially one that only contains vodka and orange juice. Adding something simple like a lemon or lime to the side of the drink not only makes you look more boujee, it also makes the drink taste just a wee bit better. However, you're going to have to judge that yourself.
Use a different flavor of orange juice.
This one is sort of an extension of the different flavored vodka suggestion, but you can get a little more creative with this one. I've come to realize there is actually a pretty big selection of flavored orange juice in the store. Well, it's not technically "flavored," but it blends orange juice with other fruits like banana, mango, or whatever your little heart desires, really. So if you're not really a fan of flavored vodka but still want to mix it up a bit, my suggestion would be going with a different type of orange juice that incorporates other fruit. If you're still bored, well, maybe you should just learn how to make vodka gummy bears. Perhaps you're just not a screwdriver person, after all.
Mix in other juices.
Although one could contend adding another juice disqualifies the beverage from being a "screwdriver," for all intents and purposes, let's just roll with it. Again, it's a freaking two ingredient drink, so would it really be the end of the world if you added a little splash of cranberry or grapefruit juice. The short answer: no, no it isn't.
Shaken, not stirred.
It's admittedly pretty hard to not make a James Bond reference when you're talking about shaking drinks, but this one is actually pretty relevant. Most people (myself included) make their screwdrivers by simply pouring vodka and orange juice into a cup and calling it a day. Stirring it, if anything, is an added bonus. But if you actually shake it—something I'm sure, none of you do—it can better blend the two components together. So if you're someone that absolutely hates the taste of vodka altogether, this could serve as a potential solution.
Add bitters to your drink.
Now, this isn't necessarily for everybody, but bitters can amplify any cocktail, if you're a fan of them. Something like a nice orange or even lavender bitter could make it seem like you're drinking a screwdriver out of the hotel lobby of a Ritz-Carlton.
Ice always helps.
When in doubt, ice it up. Or, at least in my opinion. If you like to sip your vodka and orange juice, rather than just chug it for the sake of getting drunk (although I've been there too), getting it at a colder temperature might make it a much less painful experience. Not that drinking screwdrivers is necessarily painful (unless you've had like 10), but you get my point.
Use high-end vodka.
If none of the aforementioned tips seem helpful, there is one last piece of advice I can bestow to my fellow vodka drinkers—use higher end stuff. Opting for something like Crystal Palace or Burnett's not only makes for a poor tasting drink, but it's also the recipe for an excruciating hangover. If you can afford it, try to buy one of the best vodkas for your liquor cabinet, like Grey Goose or Ciroc. If not, my suggestion would be New Amsterdam, which is far cheaper and still triple distilled. This isn't necessarily rocket science, but it's one of the different takes on screwdriver cocktails that can really resonate with a true vodka drinker. Trust me, I know from experience.