Top billing on Okra's winter cocktail menu goes not to something dark and boozy, but to a frozen, blended cocktail called the Julius Freezer.
Creamy, boozy, and a touch spicy, this Vitamin C-centric cocktail ($11) is an Orange Julius re-imagined by adults with an arsenal of artisanal booze at their disposal.
“It all started because we were flying through orange peels because we make so many old fashioneds, and we had all of these oranges that would have gone to waste,” says Okra’s lead bartender, Jake Foster.
“Plus, we do have these sweet-ass blender stations built into the bar.”
The team began researching the recipe for an Orange Julius. They found the classic, alcohol-free version is usually made of frozen orange juice concentrate blended with milk or cream, vanilla, dried egg whites, and sugar.
(It's interesting to note the original ads for the Orange Julius, native to Los Angeles, called it “A Devilishly Good Drink,” and showcased a logo of a cartoonish devil and a pitchfork sitting atop an orange, something the company soon changed when the ASU Alumni Association threatened to sue due to a likeness to their own Sparky.)
Okra’s version begins with a good measure of fresh orange juice and some vanilla syrup, then strays from the classic recipe to incorporate alcohol in a few different ways. The drink includes some neutral Tito’s vodka, a citrusy curaçao liqueur to “pump up the orange flavor,” and Ancho Reyes-brand Ancho Chile liqueur. The last ingredient is what makes this drink unique to this time and place, since the Mexico City product has become the hot new offering behind Valley bars. It adds a zip and a savory tingle to each sip, making every straw-full as sweet as the classic summer staple, while as balanced and complex as you’d expect from a top-flight cocktail bar.