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D.C. is Crushing on the Orange Crush

Like any summertime crush this one is new, exciting, and yet fleeting.

Orange Crush at Pop's Seabar
Orange Crush at Pop's Seabar
Laura Hayes

There's a new drink trend washing ashore in Washington. It's a cocktail with so much popularity that it's now safe to say it— D.C. officially has a crush on the Orange Crush.

It's a surprising drink trend for a city that's typically perceived as buttoned up and anything but laid back. D.C. is also better known for its whiskey bars. After all, the Orange Crush is a basic vodka drink that's decidedly unhip... and that's kind of the point.

Part of the reason why the Orange Crush has such a devoted following is the drink's simplicity. The recipe calls for two ounces of vodka (the basic stuff, not the premium brand), an ounce or two of triple sec, and the juice from one whole orange. It's all crushed over ice with a splash of Sprite or Sierra Mist to top it off.

Anyone who has ever summered in Ocean City, Md. knows that it's the beach town's unofficial cocktail of choice. Most Marylanders drink Crushes on the beach while wearing shorts and flip-flops. Harborside Bar & Grill in West Ocean City takes credit for creating the original Orange Crush, but pretty much any crab house or dockside bar in Maryland can fix the drink.

The cocktail is pretty easy to spot, too. Just keep an eye out for the manual juicer, found at the end of the bar, or look for the bartender who's putting all their forearm strength into pressing a sliced orange on ice.

Of course there are Maryland Orange Crush institutions. Macky's (in Ocean City) serves the cocktail by the bucket, Mike's Crab House (two locations: Pasadena and Riva) has a grapefruit variety, and Ryleigh's (in Baltimore) may very well be the standard bearer of Orange Crush excellence.

The drink is easy enough to make at home, but also adaptable to suit anyone's needs. In fact, many D.C. bartenders are putting their own spins on the drink. At Duke's Grocery in Dupont Circle, Crushes are made with blood oranges that give the drink a pinkish hue. At Pop's Seabar, the beach-themed bar in Adams Morgan, the drink is similar to what you might find in Ocean City, except for the garnish. Pop's uses a lime instead of an orange peel.

The Orange Crush is open to loose interpretation in other places. At DC Reynolds in Petworth, the drink calls for orange vodka, Aperol, orange juice, and it's topped with a splash of Port City Optimal Wit. If you want to stick to the strict definition of the Crush with a waterfront view, then Orange Anchor in Georgetown is the spot.

The Orange Crush has also been popping up in a few unexpected places more recently. This season, the Washington Nationals started serving Crushes from their centerfield bar. The drink was also recently featured on a June industry night menu hosted at The Royal. Bartenders Jamie MacBain and Jo-Jo Valenzuela served Crushes alongside other tropical-themed drinks.

Orange crushes may be trendy this summer, but just remember that any good fad (or summertime crush) can be short and fleeting, so be sure to sip on one before the summer ends.

Where to find it now:

Duke's Grocery, Dupont Circle
Pop's SeaBar, Adams Morgan
DC Reynolds, Petworth
Orange Anchor, Georgetown

Union Pub, Capitol Hill
Cantina Marina, Waterfront
Hawthorne, U Street
Mission, Dupont Circle
Nats Park
Suma, Bethesda, Md.
Scarlet Oak, Navy Yard