Crushing on the Chesapeake

Find your new summer crush

Find your new summer crush

The Orange Crush is synonymous with our summertime beaches. It began at the  Harborside Bar & Grill in West Ocean City in 1995 when it was the local watering hole for fisherman grabbing a cold drink after a hard day on the water. My father-in-law worked on some of those boats, and he has some great stories of characters that frequented those docks.

For a couple of years, the cocktail was exclusive to Harborside, but it didn’t take long before the rest of us caught on. These days, you can find them on the cocktail cards in pretty much any place you go to in the Mid-Atlantic. I’ve seen them as far north as New Jersey, and as far south as the Carolinas.

Freshly squeezed juice is the key to any Crush that’s worth its weight. While most of us have a carton of OJ in the fridge, this isn’t the place for it. They are traditionally made with an orange press, which adds a certain something, squeezing out more of the essential oils from the peel, I suppose. Nevertheless, a regular old citrus reamer or juicer is just dandy if you don’t have a citrus press at hand.

The other two essential components are vodka and triple sec, and from there, the possibilities are endless. I love using what’s in season to add a spin to the standard variations—strawberry, watermelon, cantaloupe, coconut—you name it and you can probably crush it. 

While this cocktail is my summertime go-to, it’s also wonderful during those cold winter months when you want a taste of summer. Lemons, limes, and grapefruits are at their peak in January, and those old standbys get me through until summer is knocking on our doors again.

So, without further ado, here are a few of my favorites. 

Cheers to the Chesapeake!

The OG Orange Crush

The first. The original. The standard.


2 oranges, juiced
1.5 oz vodka
1 oz triple sec
Splash of lemon-lime soda
ice
Pour all ingredients into cocktail mixer and shake. Strain into a cocktail glass filled with ice. Garnish with a slice of orange and drink immediately.

Grapefruit Crush

I’d say grapefruit is my favorite crush variety. It’s a little less sweet than its orange counterpart, making it hard to drink just one. I like adding sparkling water instead of soda to help reduce the sweet factor even further.

1 1/2 grapefruits, juiced
1.5 oz vodka
1 oz triple sec
Splash of grapefruit sparkling water
Ice

Pour all ingredients into cocktail mixer and shake. Strain into a cocktail glass filled with ice. Garnish with grapefruit peel or slice.

Blackberry Crush

Blackberry and fresh lime sing together in perfect harmony. These bodacious black berries are their best when picked up from your local farmers market or roadside stand. I’ve even come across them growing wild on our neighboring barrier island of Assateague. This recipe is equally good using fresh raspberries.

1 cup fresh blackberries
1/4 cup sugar
3 limes, juiced
3 oz vodka
2 oz triple sec
1/2 cup lemon-lime soda or sparkling water
additional blackberries, for garnish

lime slices, for garnish

Toss berries and sugar and let sit 10 minutes. Place in blender or food processor and give a few 3 second pulses until blackberries are pureed.

Pour into a pint-sized mason jar. Add in the orange juice, vodka, triple sec, and sparking water. Shake to combine.

Fill glasses with ice and pour cocktail over. Garnish glasses with a fresh blackberry and a slice of lime.

Strawberry Crush

I took the liberty of doubling the batch. You can thank me later.

1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
1/4 cup sugar
2 oranges, juiced
2/3 cup vodka
1/3 cup triple sec
1/2 cup sparkling water or
lemon-lime soda
sliced strawberries, for garnish

Toss strawberries and sugar and let sit 10 minutes. Place in blender or food processor and give a couple of pulses, until strawberries are pureed—but a few chunks still remain.

Pour mixture into the bottom of a quart mason jar. Add in the orange juice, vodka, triple sec, and sparking water. Shake to combine.

Fill glasses with ice and pour cocktail over. Garnish with sliced strawberry.

Watermelon Crush

Juicy ripe red watermelon shines in this fresh, fruity twist.

1 cup seedless watermelon, cubed
2 Tbsp sugar
2 limes, juiced
1/3 cup vodka
1/4 cup triple sec
1/2 cup sparkling water
sliced watermelon, for garnish

Place watermelon and sugar in blender or food processor and blend, until watermelon is liquified.

In a pint jar, combine watermelon puree, lime juice, vodka, triple sec, and sparking water. Shake it.

Fill glasses with ice and pour cocktail over. Garnish glasses with a slice
of watermelon.