How come nobody ever talks about orange blossom water? It’s like, “Hey, welcome to the internet. Here’s a thousand articles about a bunch of bitters that you’ll never use, and no information on orange blossom water.” Okay, sure. There’s really only one classic cocktail that calls for orange blossom water, the Ramos Gin Fizz. But let me posit this to you: do you think there might be more contemporary classics out there if most of the commercially available products didn’t suck?
My favorite were always the A. Monteux. Those of you who have been doing this for a while will recognize the bottle, as seen above. They were everywhere and then suddenly they disappeared. A quick search reveals that Mr. Monteux finally retired from the business at age 90. Good on you, sir. But, I mean, could you not have left the business to someone, instead of just shutting the whole thing down?
There really wasn’t a huge public outcry, because as I quickly learned, people are much more excited about pretty much anything else than they are orange blossom water. I picked up a few bottles when I heard the news, and when my supply ran dry a few years later, I started looking for a suitable replacement.
I’m not going to get into a discussion where I slam some of the more ubiquitous brands out there. Let me just offer a blanket tasting note for you: they all kinda suck. Here are the two problems I’ve found with most of the commercially available brands:
Half of them taste like nothing and you end up using thirty drops in your Ramos Fizz just to get any sort of orange flower essence to come through. You’re like, how did you make these, did you just squeeze a few drops of orange juice into some water? What the heck? These are the ones you find from the States, typically.
The others are super fragrant, earthy, and oily. They don’t just overpower your cocktails, they take over your drinks to the point where your tongue is coated in the thick, perfumed air of some sort of movie set bazaar. Scouring the Mediterranean markets is how you find these.
But I’m so pleased to say that I’ve found a brand that is a) commercially available b) deliciously French. The Theodule Noirot Orange Flower Water is the one you want. I’ve tried them all, and this is the only one I can honestly recommend.
I guess you probably want a recipe, then. Okay. Here’s our house Ramos Gin Fizz. Feel free to make it at home. Hint, hint. (That means don’t come ask for one on a Friday night. Get it?)
RAMOS GIN FIZZ Print Me
- 1½ oz/45 ml London dry gin
- ½ oz/ 15 ml fresh lemon juice
- ½ oz/15 ml fresh lime juice
- ½ oz/15 ml 2:1 simple syrup
- ½ oz/15 ml lightly beaten egg whites
- 6 drops orange flower water
- 1½ oz/45 ml heavy cream
- 1½ oz/45 ml club soda or sparkling mineral water, chilled
- In a cocktail shaker, combine the gin, lemon and lime juices, rich simple syrup, egg whites and orange blossom water.
- Shake until egg whites become frothy, about 15 seconds.
- Add the cream and a few ice cubes to the shaker.
- Shake for 10 to 12 seconds, or until the drink is chilled.
- Pour the club soda (or mineral water) into the shaker, then carefully strain contents into a chilled 12-ounce collins glass.
- Serve without garnish.
Recipe printed courtesy of jeffreymorgenthaler.com
16 Replies to “Orange Blossom/Flower Water and the Ramos Gin Fizz”
Do you suppose I could make my own double or triple orange flower water by using pure neroli essential oil (expensive, I know) ??
I imagine you could if the oil is water soluble. Most oils aren’t, however, so it would try some test small batches rather than spending a ton of money on orange oil if I were in your shoes.
Thank you so much for the orange flower water recommendation! While visiting my grandfather, he’d often make us Ramos fizzes on Sunday mornings (while listening to Sergio Mendez and the Brazil 66). We always had a bottle of A. Monteux around, and were devastated to find they’d retired the product after my grandfather passed away. We stopped making the fizzes in his honor once we were unable to find a suitable replacement—sad. I just ordered your rec on Amazon and am so excited to share it with my family.
What a great story! And I miss the Monteux as well.
I share your love of the old Monteux brand! Those big cobalt blue glass bottles were once so easy to find. This helped me understand more about production: https://regencyredingote.wordpress.com/2014/04/18/orange-flower-water/
Unfortunately what some companies are doing is using Neroli Oil to produce a water-like product, but it really shouldn’t be sold under that name. Likely that the Monteux was a ‘double’ or ‘triple’ water as described in the linked article.
Sad that Mr Monteux didn’t have an heir to pass along his recipe to . I loved his Orange Flower water so much. I have an empty bottle by my bedside that I open every now and then to take a whiff of that magnificent scent. I’ll try your recommendation. Fingers crossed it comes close.
It is such a shame Monteaux retired, and took his quality orange blossom water recipe with him. Thanks for sharing your experience in finding a replacement! Theodule Noirot will do just fine. Cheers!
Jake- The Ramos Gin Fizz was invented in 1888, right around the time old tom gin was being supplanted by London dry. The original was made with old tom (according to Imbibe!, anyway), but that would have been unavailable within 15 years of its invention. In a drink like this, which is plenty sweet already and has lots of other ingredients drowning out the nuances of the gin, using good old tom is a waste IMO. Just use your usual mixing gin.
I just returned from a bartending event in New Orleans and figure it is now time to perfect my Ramos Gin Fizz, so the first thing I did was get on here to see if you had any suggestions for the infamous drink. And realized you just did this article so it was meant to be. Thank you for sharing with us.
Seems a lot of bartenders as of late swear that the original Ramos Fizz was made with Old Tom gin. I’m not an expert on cocktail history but I always thought it was London dry and prefer it that way as well. I’m sure you have the historical proof one way or the other on this issue, yeah?
Do you have a recommended rose water? I just tried to make the Dead Rabbit raspberry cordial, and had a similar overpowering experience using the nielsen massey.
Hi Jeff, thanks for sharing. Just curious what kind of ice you use at your bars. Cheers!
i guess a shaker boy needs to be hired to have this one at home. Thats going to be an awkward craigs list ad lol.
I’ve always relied on the Orange Blossom Water from Spice House Chicago….
And one of my favorite cocktails I have placed on menus of the years calls for OFW:
Coffee and Cigarettes
2 oz Rittenhouse 100
3/4 Punt e Mes
1/2 Giffard Vanille
Stir with ice, pour over fresh ice, add two drops OFW.
What is the shelf life of orange flower water? I have a half full bottle of A. Monteux. If I hadn’t read this, I’d have sworn I bought it not so long ago (sometimes being 64 sucks). Oddly enough I’ve never used it in a cocktail…I bought it because I love cooking Middle-Eastern cuisine.
Randy – Try them now. I have a feeling they’ve lost all flavor. I don’t know how long they last, but mine just taste like water now.