Blood Orange Vanilla Bean Gin And Tonic

This blood orange vanilla bean gin and tonic is a lightly sweet, thoroughly refreshing cocktail, and a perfect way to take advantage of the season’s blood oranges before they’re gone. Read on, or jump straight into the recipe HERE.

Blood Orange Vanilla Bean Gin And Tonic

I think it’s safe to say, most of us have gotten used to fruits and veggies being available all year ’round. Tomatoes can be found in the dead of winter thanks to Mexico, lettuce from greenhouses, blueberries from South America… but there are still a few things that are completely seasonal, and blood oranges are one of them. While most citrus fruits can be found year round, blood oranges are one of the few that only show up for a month or two at the end of winter.

Of course, they are still oranges, and therefore you could use any orange in this recipe in their place… but there is something special about blood oranges. And I don’t just mean their fantastic color.

Blood Orange Vanilla Bean Gin And Tonic
Blood Orange Vanilla Bean Gin And Tonic

Blood oranges have a bitter/sweet flavor, a little moodier than your average bright, happy citrus fruit. That bitterness is perfect for this cocktail, almost like adding orange juice and a few drops of bitters.

And I mean, come on… that color is just too good to ignore. Citrus fruits are instant winter-blues killers, and blood oranges are no exception. Pink drinks get a bad rap for being, well, pink… but I’m tellin’ you, it’s hard to be in a bad mood with one of these in your hand.

Blood Orange Vanilla Bean Gin And Tonic
Blood Orange Vanilla Bean Gin And Tonic

To balance out the slight bitterness of the blood orange juice (and because I prefer my drinks on the slightly sweet side) I made a vanilla bean infused simple syrup. Sounds fancy, but it couldn’t be easier to make, and the subtle vanilla flavor is such a great compliment to the piney gin and sharp citrus.

The vanilla lends such a creamy smoothness to this drink, it almost makes them go down a little too easy. I made two for photo purposes, but then realized it was the middle of a weekday and I had no one to help me drink them. (Real talk, this is how a lot of my photos are taken in the winter, because the light goes away so early.) Long story short, I may have gotten a wee bit tipsy.

And when I say may have, I mean I was totally sloshed by one o’clock on a Thursday. Oops?

Blood Orange Vanilla Bean Gin And Tonic
Blood Orange Vanilla Bean Gin And Tonic

I’m guessing cocktail purists will flinch when I call this a gin and tonic, but since that’s the drink that inspired these beauties, that’s the name I went with. Now I’m thinking they need a fun, catchy title of their own. Naming rights go to whoever comes up with the best title in the comments below!

5.0 from 4 reviews
Blood Orange Vanilla Bean Gin And Tonic
Cook time
Total time
This drink is a fun, vibrant twist on a plain ol' gin and tonic. To be honest, they should probably have their own title, but since it was a gin and tonic that inspired it, that's what I went with. The slightly bitter blood orange and smooth flavor of vanilla are the perfect compliment to a nice, piney gin. Just be sure to drink responsibly!
Serves: 1 cocktail, easily doubled or tripled
For the vanilla bean simple syrup (makes 8oz):
  • 1 cup granulated cane sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
Per cocktail:
  • ¼ cup blood orange juice (about 1 blood orange, less if they are really juicy)
  • 2 oz. gin (I used St. George, but any gin you like will work)
  • ½ - 1 oz. vanilla simple syrup, depending on how sweet you like it
  • Ice
  • Tonic water for topping off
  • Twist of blood orange peel, for garnish (optional)
  • Mint for garnish (optional, but recommended -- the flavor goes well with the rest of the drink)
For the simple syrup:
  1. Add everything to a small saucepan and set over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Pour into a clean jar (I like to leave the vanilla bean in the syrup to steep) and refrigerate until needed. Syrup will keep for upwards of two weeks.
For the cocktail:
  1. Add the blood orange juice, gin, simple syrup, and a handful of ice to a cocktail shaker. Shake well, then strain into a large rocks glass with ice, or a collins glass. Top off with tonic water, to taste, and garnish with mint.
Blood oranges are only in season for a short time. If you would like to make a similar drink but can't get your hands on blood oranges, you can try using other kinds of oranges (like cara cara or naval) and adding a drop or two of bitters to the cocktail before shaking. I have a hunch these would be delicious with grapefruit, too!


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18 Responses to Blood Orange Vanilla Bean Gin And Tonic

  1. Platter Talk February 14, 2017 at 5:45 pm #

    That looks perfect for right about now! Wish I had the oranges.

  2. Debra C. February 14, 2017 at 5:54 pm #

    Oooh! That cocktail looks amazing! Love blood oranges, this is definitely on the list for the weekend!

  3. swathi February 14, 2017 at 6:20 pm #

    You are right the blood orange is seasonal only and their bitter sweetness is great for fruity cocktails. , I need to grab few to make this cocktail, love the color.

    • Willow Arlen February 15, 2017 at 1:31 pm #

      Thank you, Swathi. Blood oranges really are perfect for cocktails, I plan on using them more from now on!

  4. Michelle @ Vitamin Sunshine February 14, 2017 at 7:37 pm #

    I love that you’re using vanilla bean in here. These photos are amazing! A perfectly presented cocktail.

    • Willow Arlen February 15, 2017 at 1:32 pm #

      Thanks Michelle! The vanilla is subtle, but adds so much smoothness to this drink. I added it on a whim, and now I want to use it in all my cocktails!

  5. Brandi Crawford February 14, 2017 at 10:10 pm #

    omg! This drink looks so refreshing. How amazing!

  6. Jennie @onesweetmess February 28, 2017 at 9:53 am #

    I have been hoarding blood oranges like the crazy, obsessed citrus lover I am. Seriously, I can’t get enough. I’m pretty sure my readers are tired of hearing the words: blood + orange together in my recipe titles. But, oh well! They’re just so pretty and tasty and photogenic. So I’m going to continue to add them to my cart until they’re no longer available. Oh, how I hate to think of the day they disappear until next season. For now, I’ll be shaking up this gorgeous cocktail.

    • Willow Arlen March 13, 2017 at 3:41 pm #

      You can never have too many blood orange recipes, haha!

  7. shannon @ a periodic table March 2, 2017 at 11:08 am #

    the color of blood oranges really does make for a gorgeous cocktail…hard to duplicate with regular oranges; they seem less cloudy somehow, too? so idk…i’m with you on that, and i kinda wish we had them year-round, if only for that reason.
    this? beautiful: i would have totally gotten sloshed with you had I been around. :) i love the vanilla bean syrup add! i never think to do that, but what a great way to balance things out.

    • Willow Arlen March 13, 2017 at 3:41 pm #

      I hadn’t noticed that, but I think you’re right — less cloudy than regular OJ. It would have been WAY more fun if you’d been there to share these cocktails with!

  8. Kathryn @ FoodieGirlChicago March 24, 2017 at 12:53 pm #

    I’m not usually a big gin person but this cocktail could definitely change my mind about that! It’s going on my summer cocktails list for sure. Beautiful photos!

    • Willow Arlen March 27, 2017 at 2:24 pm #

      Thank you, Kathryn! I definitely think this is a good drink to test the waters with gin. I hope you like it!

  9. Clara March 30, 2017 at 3:25 am #

    I have got this oranges in my graden. I will try it. It looks good. Thanks for the receipt.

    • Willow Arlen March 30, 2017 at 11:16 am #

      Thanks Clara, I hope you like it! I’m only a teensy bit jealous that you have these oranges in your garden. ;)

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