About this recipe
Not that the combination, a blend as simple and perfect as the gin and tonic, has ever gone away.
The Screwdriver sits alongside the better-known Bloody Mary, Moscow Mule and Vodka Martini as one of four classic cocktails that pushed Smirnoff No. 21, and the previously unknown category of vodka, to dominate the global drinking scene.
Before World War II, fresh orange juice was only available in season, while canned juices tasted very different from the real thing. The Screwdriver benefited from new, better-tasting packaged orange juice that arrived in the late 1940s.
The name, a carefully masculine title for what could otherwise have been perceived as a feminine drink, supposedly derives from wildcatters drilling exploration oil wells in (variously) California, Texas, Persia or Saudi Arabia.
Feeling parched in the desert, the oilmen would stir vodka into their orange juice using the only available tool – a screwdriver.
The Screwdriver travelled fast. Creatively promoted in Los Angeles, by 1949 it was on the menus in bars as far afield as Turkey; by the 1960s it was a standard bar call.
The key to this classic combination is good quality orange juice, ideally freshly squeezed, which allows the clean taste of Smirnoff No. 21 to shine through. Because, as any 1960s ad exec would say, you need to taste the vodka, not just the orange.