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This Comically Easy, Orange-Infused Cocktail Attends Every Dinner Party I Do

Whether I’m playing host or guest, this two-ingredient, batch cocktail turns any occasion into a celebration — without the unnecessary prep or cleanup

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A photo illustration displays a bottle of Dolin red vermouth juxtaposed against a close-up shot of tonic water and ice cubes, with orange slices arranged in a psychedelic spiral pattern. Photo illustration by Jesse Sparks; see below for credits

I love throwing dinner parties — but after cooking all that food, I’m not inclined to spend an absurd amount of time making complex cocktails. However, what kind of host would I be without serving a good drink? (Can you tell I’m a Taurus?) Enter: orange peel-infused vermouth sodas. Deceptively easy to prep and a luxurious experience for your guests, this serve is a win-win situation.

The inspiration to infuse vermouth with orange peels came from Brooklyn’s Bar Americano, which uses the resulting infusion as a key ingredient in their house Negroni. The method brings out the juicy citrus and floral elements of oranges, without needing to express peels or garnish the drink. Ingenious, this is the perfect way to batch and streamline cocktails for a party without a fuss. But I didn’t want to serve the boozy Italian classic. Instead, I would top it with soda to further open the citrus notes and make it crushable.

Basically, vermouth is already a beautiful spirit on its own. Bittersweet and low-ABV, the aromatized and fortified wine is flavored with blends of herbs, spices, and botanicals. It’s the ideal bottle to level up with juicy citrus.

I like to prepare the infusion first — following Bar Americano’s method — as it needs to sit at room temperature for about an hour. While the magic happens, I cook an appetizer. I prefer to choose an aromatic fruit, like Cara Cara or Valencia oranges. Then, I’ll use a vegetable peeler to gently slice off the zest without the pith — the bitter white rind between the fruit and its skin — you’ll need 30 grams of orange peels, which is about 1.5 peeled oranges. Gently massage the peels in a deli container or piece of Tupperware for 90 seconds to release its fragrant oils. From there, I’ll add 300ml of red vermouth, like Dolin Vermouth Rouge (I appreciate its accessibility and herbaceous bouquet). And that’s it. Let that baby sit for an hour on the counter, then strain, bottle, and pop it into the fridge. Enjoy the final product within a few weeks, as fortified wines oxidize quickly.

When the infusion is prepped and ready to go, I serve it over ice and top it with club soda. Every time I have a friend try the cocktail for the first time, they are genuinely so surprised at the pronounced sweet orange aroma and flavor. “Only 1 hour?!” is the usual reaction I receive when I explain how quick the infusion process is for such an intense transformation. The soda further brings out the complex notes of the vermouth and fruit. You can serve this drink year-round, too. I was curious to try the method with lemon peels, too, but they gave the vermouth an unbalanced, bitter edge. (That’s okay! Glad I tried!) Try to find seasonal citrus for the best results and explore different vermouths, as their proprietary blends will all play uniquely with the peels.

Irina Groushevaia is a freelance culture and lifestyle writer who has been featured in Eater, Bon Appétit, Food52, and other publications. An immigrant from Moscow, they currently reside in Queens with their cat Beluga.

Additional photo illustration credits: Orange slices photographed byJayk7 via Getty; Tonic water close-up photographed by Level1studio via Getty; Dolin Vermouth Rouge for