Thursday, November 14, 2019

Cranberry Cocktails

It is November and cranberries are ubiquitous and cheap. They have so much more potential than dear old cranberry sauce (which I love). The tart and tannic native fruits are also very good for us, high in antioxidants and with antimicrobial properties

Here is the first in a crimson series of cranberry cocktail as well as low ABV (alcohol by volume) recipes I created to fuel the delicious Thanksgiving season. Syrups, pickles and brines are part of the scarlet mix.

Sour Cranberry Syrup (above)

I call it syrup but there is no sugar. Use this brilliantly red mixer in any way you would deploy lemon or lime juice. It keeps for up to one week in the refrigerator. I suspect it lasts longer but have not tried - let me know.

12 ounces of cranberries
2 cups water

Combine in a saucepan and bring to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Simmer for 30 minutes, then double strain and bottle. Keep chilled. You can use the leftover cranberries in sauce or pie filling.

Salt-Pickled Cranberries and Cranberry Brine

Tough skinned cranberries take well to salting after being crushed a little (and I thank Japan for the easy technique of salt pickling). Why salt cranberries? The ruby-hued brine extruded from the fruit makes a beautiful cocktail rim juice, before dipping in salt. In small amounts the brine also adds a sharp zap to mixed drinks, helps quick-pickled vegetables along, cures salmon for gravlax, and is pretty good in salad dressings, too (especially with citrus and mint).

To make the brine, simply place a cupful of lightly crushed cranberries in a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and massage it into the fruit. Allow to sit for 24 hours, covered. Voilá: crimson brine. Dip cocktail glass rims into it. The leftover cranberries are good pickle-snacks.

‘Red Rita’
Makes 1 drink

The combination of vivid cranberry syrup and blood orange make a ruby cocktail nipped by a dash of cranberry brine meeting Tequila.

For the rim:

1 tablespoon Cranberry Brine
1 tablespoon salt

Pour the brine into a saucer.  Place the salt in a second saucer. Dip the rim of your cocktail coupe in the brine and then gently into the salt, working it around the edges. Allow to stand for a few minutes before pouring the drink.

For the cocktail:

2 ½ ounces Tequila Reposado
1 ounce Lillet Blanc
½ ounce lime juice
½ ounce blood orange juice
½ ounce Sour Cranberry Syrup (see above)
¼ teaspoon Cranberry Brine

In a cocktail shaker combine all the ingredients with ice. Shake, and pour (stay just shy of the salt rim).


  1. This is delightful and creative! Thanks so much.

  2. Syrup now in refrigerator and brine is still brining on the counter. Mitchell got a great buy on cranberries at Costco. Now, on to Spicy Cranberry Sauce (jam-ish).


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