Forget Sauce, Get Cranberry ‘Soused’ on Thanksgiving

cranberry_cocktails

I don’t know about you, but when I see that can of oozy, gelatinous cranberry sauce resting in a bowl on the dinner table, I think two things: First, it must be Thanksgiving. More importantly, I imagine how those cranberries could have been put to better use in a cocktail.

[ed. note: of course, you might try Rachel’s decidedly non-oozy Cranberry Relish, but we digress]

Cranberries — which boom in popularity this time of year — find their greatest impact in cranberry juice, which is then blended with myriad spirits for an array of tasty beverages. Seeing as it’s the holidays, and you’re spending a lot of time with the family, these recipes for cranberry-accented cocktails might come in handy. I also find that as the weather begins to get chillier, a nice summertime cocktail provides a refreshing escape.

Keep in mind that cranberry juice comes in varying forms (some pure, some blends) and degrees of sweetness, so you may need to adjust the amount of sweeteners in the drinks accordingly. And if you want to boost the cranberry flavor, try a cranberry-flavored vodka (Stoli and Finlandia both make a version). I find orange vodka mixes especially well with cranberry, so that’s generally what I use in these drinks.

Cosmopolitan
2 oz. regular or orange vodka (I prefer Grey Goose L’Orange for this drink because of the prominence of the vodka)
.5 oz. cranberry juice
.5 oz. fresh lime juice
.5 oz. Cointreau or other quality orange liqueur
Shake all ingredients together with ice and stain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Crantini
3 oz. regular, cranberry or orange vodka (I prefer Grey Goose L’Orange for this drink because of the prominence of the vodka)
.5 oz. cranberry juice
Shake both ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with fresh or dried cranberries if desired.

Sex on the Beach
1.5 oz. regular or orange vodka (I like Stoli Ohranj or Absolut Mandrin here because the vodka isn’t as prominent)
.75 oz. peach schnapps (Peachtree is the best)
.5 oz Chambord (another black raspberry liqueur could substitute in a pinch)
2 oz. orange juice
2 oz. cranberry juice
Shake all ingredients except the Chambord together with ice then strain into a highball or hurricane glass filled with ice. Float the Chambord on top. Ganish with a maraschino cherry and orange slice if desired.

Sea Breeze
2 oz. vodka
2 oz. cranberry juice
2 oz. grapefruit juice (fresh is better)
Pour all ingredients into a highball glass filled with ice. Stir. Squeeze a lime wedge over the drink and drop in.

French Quarter Quencher
I first tasted this brilliant cocktail several years back in New Orleans on a sweltering day.
3 oz. cranberry juice
2 oz. Absolut Mandrin or other orange vodka
1 oz. coconut rum (recommended: Cruzan coconut)
Pour all ingredients into a highball glass filled with ice. Squeeze a lime wedge over the drink and drop in.

Colin Powers is a Madison, Wisconsin-based editor and graphic designer. He has more than a dozen years of newspaper experience, including a stint as Life and Arts Editor of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer — where he also oversaw food and drink coverage — before its demise in March.
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