Cock n’ Bull Bitter Orange

Cock n' Bull Bitter OrangeCitrus + Quinine drinks were much far more common than they are today. Even Bitter Lemons, that we review, are quickly becoming a bit of an endangered species.

But there are other combinations of Citrus + Quinine that are far more endangered. The Bitter Orange, a canned tonic water with orange as well were once more common. This archive from the Can Museum shows that Schweppes, among others, used to make this soda.

So naturally, imagine my delight when I found that Cock ‘n Bull had resuscitated this forgotten mixer, which they used to make in the 1960s and 1970s.

Orange— especially Bitter Orange— is one of the most common botanicals in gin. So is it as welcome an accompaniment to gin as Bitter Lemon is?

Tasting Notes

Cock n’ Bull Bitter Orange has a subtle nose of fresh squeezed orange juice, perhaps even with a slight note of mandarin and lemon. The palate is pleasantly orange tinged. The orange tastes fresh at first, but veers a bit towards a Tang note at the end. Pleasant, but only mild bitterness reigns at the end. Clean on the palate, Cock n’ Bull Bitter Orange is quite nice on its own— if you’re looking for a less sweet soda to drink.

But that’s where I want to pause. Because Cock n’ Bull Bitter Orange is actually exceptionally sweet. 43g of sugars are in each 12 oz. bottle. But it doesn’t taste as sweet as the sugar content might suggest. It’s a nice balance of bitterness— especially buoyed by a long dry finish, that leaves the palate less orange soda than it otherwise could. Take out that bitterness and you might just have a really sweet orange soda.

Cock n’ Bull Bitter Orange and Junipero Gin

I mixed the Bitter Orange with Junipero Gin. Surprisingly, the gin really comes through strongly in the first part of the palate— though Junipero is great at that— but the orange comes off as really classically Seville Orange mid-palate. The finish seems to bring out some bitter and citrus notes in the gin. There’s a subtle quinine here, but it’s more the natural bitterness of the orange rind that comes through.

I’m surprised at how much I like this. It’s even better than just simply adding a splash of orange juice to your next Gin and Tonic (which by all means— if you haven’t done it— it’s a great brunch drink).

Overall

Cock n’ Bull have brought a gin mixer back from missing persons’ list. No longer presumed missing, Bitter Orange is alive and well.

I like that they use real sugar to sweeten their tonic water. The Brominated Vegetable Oil may be questionable to some— it’s not permitted in Japan or European Union manufacture*— but overall Cock n’ Bull have made a good product. If you’ve never experienced the beauty of a bitter orange and gin, Cock n’ Bull Bitter Orange is worth seeking out. I quite enjoy it and look forward bitter orange’s return.

* Snopes has a good lay person’s summary of the whole BVO phenomenon.

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Last updated December 16th, 2017 by Aaron Knoll

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