Orange Julep: Of Hot Dogs and Hot Rods

by Evelyn Reid

Originally published on About.com August 15, 2009

Montreal’s finest hot wheels and classic cars converge weekly at roadside diner the Orange Julep—the “Big Orange”—on Decarie Boulevard, a favorite landmark/eyesore among kids, their parents, their grandparents, and even their grandparent’s parents, a tradition going back generations.

To this day, car fans and nostalgia nuts pass by the Orange Julep’s parking lot on a spring or summer Wednesday for a peek at yesteryear’s modern rides as they sip the fast food joint’s secret recipe, a foamy, neon orange liquid that inspired Hermas Gibeau to begin selling it 1932 in the now long gone Belmont amusement park.

By 1945, the Gibeau family moved operations out of Belmont, opening its first full-fledged drive-in diner in today’s location on Decarie Boulevard, erecting a two-story high spherical structure in the process, only to tragically have to demolish it in order to make way for the expansion of the Decarie Expressway. Once the autoroute was completed though, a giant three-story-high fiberglass orange took the smaller joint’s place circa 1966, making local history.

Left: vintage cars spotted at the Orange Julep, a common sight in the summer (photo by Flickr user Andy Vathis (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)).

Orange Julep Today

Basing its fast food enterprise on a beverage that’s been a Gibeau family recipe since the early 1920s, its waitresses on roller skates are long gone but the spirit remains. Orange Julep continues to reign not only as the best place in town to check out vintage cars, but as a quirky classic fast food takeout joint serving hot dogs, burgers, crunch-free mushy fries, poutine and other fatty options that complement the business namesake. Diners either grab their orders to go or eat at one of the surrounding picnic tables.

And you can’t miss it. Literally. The giant orange is 40 feet wide and can be seen from the sky, up there with the Biosphere and St. Joseph’s Oratory as one of Montreal’s most iconic landmarks.

 

But What’s in an Orange Julep?

The secret ingredient in an Orange Julep drink stayed that way for decades until August 26, 2009, when I let the cat out of the bag on About.com after some investigative sleuthing, revealing for the first time to the world—that’s right, it was me—that Orange Julep’s secret ingredient is… powdered egg whites.

But before I figured it out, the Gibeau family kept it mum for generations, resisting franchise opportunities while faithfully guarding a recipe rife with “health benefits.”

Claiming “health benefits” might be pushing it considering the drink’s high sugar content, though orange julep’s nutritional value is mildly superior to that of a typical soft drink, with significant Vitamin C content courtesy of freshly squeezed oranges.

And no one is quite sure why locals like a drink that looks like industrial hand soap quite so much. But this particular heavenly brew is available in only one place on the globe, right here, in Montreal. For some, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime taste bud experience. To me, it’s a creamy, frothy, happy concoction that tastes like my fifth birthday. Not that I can actually remember my fifth birthday. But if I could, it would taste like that.

“Mustangs, Panteras, and Mercedes older than certain countries, this is the quintessential gathering place for muscle car and antique auto maniacs.”

Above: vintage cars spotted at the Orange Julep (photo by Flickr user Andy Vathis (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)).

Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays: The Cars

Orange Julep’s exclusive mystery beverage is but the tip of its attractions. Vintage vehicles define the Big Orange as much as the food and the giant fiberglass fruit, a Montreal word-of-mouth tradition that’s somehow stayed under the radar for decades … until now.

Come on a Wednesday night between May and October—if the weather is really nice sometimes as early as April and as late as November—between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. and you’ll see an informal blast from the past materialize before your eyes.

With Mustangs, Panteras, and Mercedes older than certain countries, this is the quintessential gathering place for muscle car and antique auto maniacs. As the tradition goes, girls and boys bring in their hot rods and locals vote on their favorites of the night. The hotter and nicer the night, the more cars onlookers can expect to see.

Informal gatherings sometimes also occur on Tuesdays and Thursdays, when several pimp-my-ride style modified cars are displayed by anyone who feels like showing off their baby and socializing. But Wednesdays are your best bet.

Orange Julep: General Information

Address: 7700 Decarie, corner of Paré

Get There: Namur Metro (Directions: Exit metro station. Scan skyline for giant orange. Walk towards fruit.)

Hours: Open 24 hours, 7 days a week from April through November. Hours reduced to 7:30 a.m. until 3 a.m. in colder months but opening hours vary by day and weather conditions. To be on the safe side, call (514) 738-7486 to make sure Orange Julep is open if planning a late night visit in the winter.

More INFO: (514) 738-7486

Orange Julep: Of Hot Dogs and Hot Rods

by Evelyn Reid

Originally published  on About.com August 15, 2009

Restaurant Gibeau Orange Julep à Montréal, photograph by Khayman (CC BY-SA 3.0)

 

Montreal’s finest hot wheels and classic cars converge weekly at roadside diner the Orange Julep—the “Big Orange”—on Decarie Boulevard, a favorite landmark/eyesore among kids, their parents, their grandparents, and even their grandparent’s parents, a tradition going back generations.

To this day, car fans and nostalgia nuts pass by the Orange Julep’s parking lot on a spring or summer Wednesday for a peek at yesteryear’s modern rides as they sip the fast food joint’s secret recipe, a foamy, neon orange liquid that inspired Hermas Gibeau to begin selling it 1932 in the now long gone Belmont amusement park.

By 1945, the Gibeau family moved operations out of Belmont, opening its first full-fledged drive-in diner in today’s location on Decarie Boulevard, erecting a two-story high spherical structure in the process, only to tragically have to demolish it in order to make way for the expansion of the Decarie Expressway. Once the autoroute was completed though, a giant three-story-high fiberglass orange took the smaller joint’s place circa 1966, making local history.

Above: vintage cars spotted at the Orange Julep, a common sight in the summer (Photo by Flickr user Andy Vathis (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)).

 

Orange Julep Today

Basing its fast food enterprise on a beverage that’s been a Gibeau family recipe since the early 1920s, its waitresses on roller skates are long gone but the spirit remains. Orange Julep continues to reign not only as the best place in town to check out vintage cars, but as a quirky classic fast food takeout joint serving hot dogs, burgers, crunch-free mushy fries, poutine and other fatty options that complement the business namesake. Diners either grab their orders to go or eat at one of the surrounding picnic tables.

And you can’t miss it. Literally. The giant orange is 40 feet wide and can be seen from the sky, up there with the Biosphere and St. Joseph’s Oratory as one of Montreal’s most iconic landmarks.

 

But What’s in an Orange Julep?

The secret ingredient in an Orange Julep drink stayed that way for decades until August 26, 2009, when I let the cat out of the bag on About.com after some investigative sleuthing, revealing for the first time to the world—you saw it here first, folks—that Orange Julep’s secret ingredient is… powdered egg whites.

But before I figured it out, the Gibeau family kept it mum for generations, resisting franchise opportunities while faithfully guarding a recipe rife with “health benefits.”

Claiming “health benefits” might be pushing it considering the drink’s high sugar content, though orange julep’s nutritional value is mildly superior to that of a typical soft drink, with significant Vitamin C content courtesy of freshly squeezed oranges.

No one is entirely sure why a drink that looks like industrial hand soap has such a cult following. Maybe it has something to do with scarcity. This particular heavenly brew is available in only one place on the globe, right here, in Montreal. For some, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime taste bud experience. To me, it’s a creamy, frothy, happy concoction that tastes like my fifth birthday. Not that I can actually remember my fifth birthday. But if I could, it would taste like that.

“With Mustangs, Panteras, and Mercedes older than certain countries, this is the quintessential gathering place for muscle car and antique auto maniacs.”

Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays: The Cars

Orange Julep’s exclusive mystery beverage is but the tip of its attractions. Vintage vehicles define the Big Orange as much as the food and the giant fiberglass fruit, a Montreal word-of-mouth tradition that’s somehow stayed under the radar for decades … until now.

Come on a Wednesday night between May and October—if the weather is really nice sometimes as early as April and as late as November—between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. and you’ll see an informal blast from the past materialize before your eyes.

With Mustangs, Panteras, and Mercedes older than certain countries, this is the quintessential gathering place for muscle car and antique auto maniacs. As the tradition goes, girls and boys bring in their hot rods and locals vote on their favorites of the night. The hotter and nicer the night, the more cars onlookers can expect to see.

Informal gatherings sometimes also occur on Tuesdays and Thursdays, when several pimp-my-ride style modified cars are displayed by anyone who feels like showing off their baby and socializing. But Wednesdays are your best bet.

Above: vintage cars spotted at the Orange Julep (photo by Flickr user Andy Vathis (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)).

 

Orange Julep: General Information

Address: 7700 Decarie, corner of Paré

Get There: Namur Metro (Directions: Exit metro station. Scan skyline for giant orange. Walk towards fruit.)

Hours: Open 24 hours, 7 days a week from April through November. Hours reduced to 7:30 a.m. until 3 a.m. in colder months but opening hours vary by day and weather conditions. To be on the safe side, call (514) 738-7486 to make sure Orange Julep is open if planning a late night visit in the winter.

More INFO: (514) 738-7486