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History of the classic Screwdriver

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1940s | Texas, Oklahoma or California


Today, the Screwdriver’s popularity has slightly waned, and bartenders have some trouble answering what makes a Sloe Comfortable Screw different from a Sloe Screw Against the Wall. So it’s time to recall the ancestral mix that Truman Capote came to respect and loving call “My Orange Drink”.


In the 1940s, the biggest vodka consumers were oil rig workers in Texas, Oklahoma, and California. In order to mix the drink with ice, the laborers used what they had at hand: a screwdriver. Later, this method and the resulting name for the drink became known all over the States, then made their way to Turkey and Saudi Arabia where American engineers were also working. Time Magazine wrote about this on 24 October 1949, where the Screwdriver is first mentioned in print.


The Screwdriver, along with the Moscow Mule, gave the impetus for the development of a whole industry around vodka cocktails. Meanwhile, it acquired a whole list of its own variations. For example, there’s the Harvey Wallbanger (vodka, orange juice, and Galliano) which, with the addition sloe gin, becomes the Sloe Screw Against the Wall. A Screwdriver with Southern Comfort and that very same sloe gin becomes a Sloe Comfortable Screw – and yes, the double entendres are entirely intentional.


In 1977, the most scandalous version of the Screwdriver appeared, called the Anita Bryant – named after the famous model, face of the Florida Citrus Commission, and odious political figure. Having decided to get into politics, Anita announced herself as an advocate of Christian morals and declared a crusade against sexual minorities. As a result, those very same sexual minorities started to openly swap out the orange juice for apple juice, the biggest citrus producer broke their contract with the scorned model, and her name made it onto cocktail menus rather than into Congress.


See the recipe


Historian: Vladimir Zhuravlev

Illustration: Moe

Journalists: Sara Davis, Samantha Johnson

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