You know how good English gin has those wonderful botanical aromas and flavors that are big yet at the same time delicate and perfumed? Orange flower water has the same properties because it is made in a very similar manner.
First Seville orange blossoms are steeped in water. This water is then heated in a still and the fragrant bitter orange vapors are condensed into a distillate. Any orange blossom essential oil is then separated (this is call neroli and is highly prized in the perfume industry) and result is orange flower water (also called orange blossom water).
French and Middle Eastern cuisine both use flower waters in desserts and salads. But we're here for the drinks.
There are subtle differences between French and Middle Eastern orange flower waters. The French version relies more on aroma while the Middle Eastern version has slightly stronger flavors. They are quite similar but a lot of bartenders tend to use the French version.
The go to brand used to be A. Monteux in the little blue plastic bottle but Monsieur Monteux has retired and his water is no longer available. Noirot Orange Flower Water gets good reviews on Amazon.com, but availability is inconsistent.
I have been using Cortas Orange Blossom Water and have had very good results with it. Cortas is very fresh and natural smelling.
Be careful using this stuff in your drink recipes. When a recipe calls for 4 drops of it, use 4 drops (or maybe a few more). That doesn't mean 4 dashes. Too much can quickly overpower a drink.
The most famous drink to use orange flower water is a Ramos Gin Fizz which gains a nice floral aroma from the ingredient. You will also find this ingredient in an Absinthe Suissesse and in real orgeat syrup.
I keep a 50 mL dasher bottle that makes it easy to add it in small amounts. I just turn the bottle upside down and it will drip into the drink in a controlled fashion.
Have you found another orange flower water you like? Let us know below in the comments.