Classical Screwdriver – with variations

A screwdriver is a popular alcoholic highball drink made with Orange Juice and Vodka or Orange Soft-drink and Vodka making it a good introduction to built cocktails or long drinks.  An early written reference to the screwdriver was found in a 1949 issue of Time:  “In the dimly lighted bar of the sleek Park Hotel, Turkish intelligence agents mingle with American engineers and Balkan refugees, drinking the latest Yankee concoction of vodka and orange juice, called a ‘screwdriver”.


An innocent looking drink.

My introduction to the Screwdriver was in my highschool years….

During the 70’s Mum and Dad had a favourite bottle store in Marewa, a suburb of Napier, that was run by a delightful gentleman.  As a teenager I would accompany my parents on their shopping trip to select casks of Wine (hock or moselle), Port & Sherry by the flagon and various Spirits and Liqueurs.   Being a bit cheeky, my friend Raewyn and I would often pop into the store, in school uniform, to purchase bottles of Moscato and bottles of Screwdriver mix – of course we were underage but we assured him we were getting it for Mum & Dad!!!

One must remember that this was the 70’s – a time long before the brightly coloured Premix drinks and RTDS that became popular during the 90’s.  This was a time before flavoured spirits. This was a time when the best you could get was the Screwdriver mix and a Gimlet mix, that was lime flavoured with an icky taste.  These were a strong cordial (sugar,artifical flavour & colour) with Vodka…and they were cheap.

To drink you simply added lemonade. We would often mix our Screwdrivers in our bedrooms prior to heading off to parties and pretend it was Fanta.


There were a few mishaps that caused bright orange stains in carpet that neccesiated rearranging of furniture and floor rugs to cover them up.  Those were the days.

Our plan worked very well until we deviated from our usual purchases and tries something different….and the nice man in the bottle store asked Mum and Dad how they had enjoyed it…busted!!

The Screwdriver, made with orange soda (or soft-drink) not juice, was one of my alcoholic drinks of choice, along with sweet Sparkling Wine or Rum & Coke, for many years.


There are many recipies for cocktails that are based on the Screwdriver.  Similar drinks may have different names or recipes across the world.

  • Vodka and Blue Curaçao topped with lemon-lime soda create a  Sonic Screwdriver.
  • Tequila and  orange juice is a Mexican Screw.
  • Sloe Gin and  orange juice is a Sloe Screw.
  • For a Comfortable Screw use  Southern Comfort and orange juice.
  • Sloe Gin,  Southern Comfort and  orange juice is a Slow Comfortable Screw.
  • Harvey Wallbanger is made by floating a measure of Galliano across the top of a Classic Screwdriver .
  • You may prefer a Long Slow Comfortable Screw Up Against The Wall with a twist …a tall glass with ice, Sloe Gin, Southern Comfort, Galliano and Orange juice  garnished with a curl of orange rind.
  • A shot of Vodka with an orange wedge either dipped sugar is a Cordless Screwdriver
  • For a Virgin Screwdriver just leave out the Vodka

…and so the list goes on.

There is no better place than this to mention a little-known cocktail called a Muddy Waters.  This is a short cocktail  is built over ice in an oldfashioned glass….add a double measure of Dark Rum and top with Orange juice.



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