(Guess which of those scenarios applies to me, by the way?)
Regardless of which camp you’re in, my guess is that you wouldn’t refuse a cocktail right now. Yes, even at 10:30 am. I’m looking at you, person who just ate half the cookie platter. Who are you to judge?
The spiced cranberries that are the star of this drink are festive enough not only to bridge the holiday week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, but could stretch back to Thanksgiving and be featured in a pre-dinner cocktail before the big meal as well. They’ll certainly keep for a month in the refrigerator, so if you’re a careful planner, you can make a batch in November to last you until the ball drops in Times Square.
The cocktail itself is based on a drink called the Manitoba created by Master of Whiskey Gina Unverferth. Muddling the lemon and cranberries together might be more labor-intensive than you’re used to, but the whole lemon rind and flesh brings a sweet hit of citrus that juice alone just can’t compete with, in my opinion. If you’re more in a mojito mood, substitute lime and rum for the lemon and bourbon, and make it a tropical holiday on Christmas Island. Either way, it’s a great excuse to use your bar tools.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to eat a heaping helping of kielbasa and sauerkraut and dig into my mom-in-law’s cookie platter. Happy holidays from Good. Food. Stories.!
adapted from Mix Shake Stir
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 2 hours 30 minutes, including chill time
Makes about 1 quart
- 1 cup (7 oz.) granulated sugar
- 1 cup water
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 3 or 4 whole allspice berries
- 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 1 1/2 cups (6 oz.) fresh cranberries
Place the sugar, water, cinnamon sticks, allspice berries, and peppercorns in a medium (1 1/2-2 quart) saucepan over medium-low heat. Bring the liquid to a simmer, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar.
Once bubbles start to form, add the cranberries and adjust the heat as necessary to keep the syrup at a low boil.
Cook for 2-3 minutes, until the cranberries begin to pop and split, then remove from the heat.
Transfer to a heat-proof jar and cool to room temperature before covering and storing in the refrigerator.
Chill for at least 2 hours before serving. Cranberries will keep for about a month when refrigerated in an airtight container.
Spiced Cranberry and Bourbon Cocktail
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 10 minutes
Makes 1 drink
- 1 tablespoon spiced cranberries (from above recipe)
- 1 tablespoon spiced cranberry syrup (from above recipe)
- 1 lemon wedge (from a lemon cut into 8 slices)
- 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 fl. oz.) bourbon
- 1 handful ice cubes
- 1/3-1/2 cup ginger ale or ginger beer
Add the cranberries and their syrup, along with the lemon wedge, to the mixing glass of a Boston shaker. Use a muddler to squash and press the fruits and release their juices.
Add the bourbon and a handful of ice cubes to the strainer, then seal the glass with the stainless steel shaker and shake vigorously for 30 seconds.
Pour the cocktail, including the ice, into a highball or old fashioned glass and top with ginger ale or ginger beer.