7 Summer-Ready Sips Starring Oranges

From classic mimosas to a cooling green tea and orange sparkler.

July 22, 2021

We’ve teamed up with California Citrus Growers to pull back the peel and share all the citrus-y wonders of oranges from the Golden State. Here, we’re showing you some of the refreshing sips you can make this summer using juicy, sweet-tart California Valencia oranges. And psst: Did you know that they’re an excellent source of both vitamin C and folate? Pretty sweet.

With summer finally upon us, warmer weather is here to accompany what's shaping up to be a gorgeous and lively few months—and with that comes the arrival of fruity drinks to keep you refreshed throughout. This season, we're turning to the wonderfully tart and sweet nectar of Valencia oranges (they're the best for juicing of the bunch) to complete all of our summer sips. Think: bubbly mimosas, fizzy sherbet coolers, cooling green tea-orange sparklers, and zingy orange and mint gimlets.

Below, take a look at a few of our favorite drink recipes perfect for making with Valencia oranges from California, which are in peak season from now until October. (One thing to keep in mind: For any of the cocktails, you can always omit the alcohol and instead opt for fresh-squeezed orange juice or club soda for an equally satisfying mocktail experience.)

Photo by Julia Gartland. Prop Stylist: Megan Hedgpeth. Food Stylist: Samantha Seneviratne.

1. Bourbon, Orange & Ginger

Bourbon isn't just for mint juleps—it's a great spirit for many other summery cocktails, too. This beautiful blend of spicy and sweet is expertly topped off with the tartness of California Valencia oranges. Add a little triple sec, vanilla extract, and granulated sugar, and you have a cocktail that's ready for a day by the pool or barbecuing in the backyard.

2. Fizzy Orange Sherbet Cooler

If these first few weeks of the season are any indication, this is going to be a hot, sweaty summer, so you're going to need a drink recipe to cool off with. This non-alcoholic sherbet cooler takes the zesty, tangy orange flavor and adds a bit of richness from the cream for a decadent experience. Add fresh-squeezed orange juice and a splash of seltzer, and this refreshing drink will become your go-to for the next few months.

3. Minty Orange Gimlet

We really can't say no to a minty cocktail during the scorching summer months. Use orange zest to make the tangy simple syrup that completes this drink; either vodka or gin will work, depending on your preference. The muddled fruit at the bottom of the cocktail ensures that the drink gets better the longer you enjoy it.

4. Orange Ginger Mint Sodas

For a similar flavor profile that's alcohol-free, try out this carbonated mixed drink. The best part of this recipe is that you can make the syrup in large batches—especially great if you're hosting a get-together with your friends and family—and keep adding more soda water or your favorite flavored seltzer.

5. Negroni Sbagliato

What has Campari, Prosecco, vermouth, and orange peels in it and feels like it immediately transports you to the Amalfi Coast? Simply said, this cocktail. This summery drink combines a couple of our favorite spirits and ornaments them with a wonderfully zesty orange peel to help us forget that we're trapped in the hustle and bustle of everyday life—rather than looking over our balcony at the beautiful waters below our villa on a hill.

6. Orange Green Tea Sparkler

You've never really lived if you haven't tried adding orange juice to your freshly brewed green tea; it's an oft-overlooked flavor combo that's as refreshing as it is simple. All you have to do is brew your favorite green tea and pour in some orange juice, and for a little fizzy kick, pour in some soda water. It's a cooling sip that will add a little caffeine to your morning or afternoon.

7. Our Best Classic Mimosa (or a Bellini)

Brunch isn't complete without a mimosa. Juice a few California Valencia oranges and pour in your choice of Champagne. And while mimosas often take all the credit as far as brunch cocktails are concerned, we're also partial to bellinis—especially when oranges are added to the peach puree for a sweet and zesty kick. Either of these cocktails make for a refreshing accompaniment to your weekend waffles and eggs.

What’s your favorite citrusy sip? Tell us in the comments below!

In partnership with California Citrus Growers, we’re sharing endless ideas and recipe inspiration for making the most of citrus season. From gorgeously pink Cara Caras to sweet-tart Valencias, California oranges are the best way to bring bright pops of flavor and plenty of vitamin C to your daily routine.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Liz Summers
    Liz Summers
  • Susan
  • Erin Alexander
    Erin Alexander

Written by: kristincorpuz


Liz S. July 23, 2021
Like @Susan said ... in the U.S. at any rate, it is NOT citrus season. I LOVE citrus, but I love it in season. I understand there is an international audience and in the southern hemisphere is maybe is citrus season ...
Liz S. July 23, 2021
Oh, wait ... this is sponsored by CA Citrus growers ... come on!!!
Susan July 23, 2021
Oranges are in season in the winter. Why not celebrate seasonal fruit?
Erin A. August 11, 2021
Hi Susan! Oranges are definitely a classic winter fruit, but Valencias are actually in peak season between July and October—and perfect for summery sips!