A staggeringly uncomplicated drink to make, the Screwdriver is universally available.
A drink with a lethal name—or a practical one, depending on your point of view—the Screwdriver is a basic mix of vodka and orange juice. The vodka version of the Orange Blossom, the Screwdriver has been around for a while. It was most likely the brainchild of master marketer John Martin, who popularized it to promote vodka after World War II. John Mariani, in his Dictionary of American Food and Drink, cites two sources for the drink’s creation. According to one, oil-rig workers in the Middle East used screwdrivers to open cans of orange juice, which they then mixed with vodka to keep cool. The other source relates that a California bartender was experimenting with the new drinks at the request of an orange juice salesman. Upon asking one of his customers what he thought, the man is said to have replied, “I’d just as soon swallow a screwdriver.” Let’s face it, though, it’s just orange juice and vodka, and it was probably just a nameless refresher before it became the Screwdriver. Give credit to Martin, though, for promoting it and transforming it into a classic cocktail. Along with the Bloody Mary and the Moscow Mule, the Screwdriver is in Martin’s hat trick in the annals of marketing mixology. Of course, if you count the Vodka Martini—which he called the Vodkatini—Martin also hit for the cycle.
If you do intend to mix a Screwdriver, mix it right. Never settle for ready-made orange juice when you can squeeze it fresh. It takes a little more time, but it makes a richer cocktail. And stay away from bargain-basement vodkas—they only lay the groundwork for a highway to Hangoverville.
Cordless Screwdriver: Pour chilled vodka into a shot glass. Drink, and follow by biting into an orange wedge coated with superfine sugar.
Melon Ball: Substitute 1 ounce Midori melon liqueur for 1 ounce of the vodka, and garnish with a small slice of honeydew melon.
Southern Screw: Substitute 1 ounce Southern Comfort for 1 ounce of the vodka.
Slow (Sloe) Comfortable Screw: Substitute 1 ounce sloe gin for 1 ounce of the vodka. Try asking your date if he or she would like this one. Wait until at least the second date though.