To most of us, packages of fresh cranberries in markets this time of year mean cranberry sauce. To me, they say it’s time to make a key ingredient for my favorite seasonal cocktail: the Cranberry Rose.
It’s a riff on the traditional Jack Rose, a simple cocktail made with applejack brandy, lemon juice and grenadine. It’s an old-fashioned sipper that was popular in the ’20s and ’30s — it even gets a mention in Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises).
This variation was borne out of some recipe testing last year that left me with extra cranberry syrup, which seemed a natural substitute for grenadine. And along with applejack brandy, which dates back to colonial New Jersey, it makes for a truly all-American seasonal cocktail. For parties you can scale up a big batch of the mix to shake and serve on demand.
The syrup comes from The Cranberry Cookbook by Sally Pasley Vargas. It’s a great mixer for all kinds of cocktails, from this simple riff on a Jack Rose to margaritas to a seasonal French 75.
Cranberry Rose Cocktail
1¼ cups water
1¼ cups sugar
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1 ½ ounces applejack brandy (or Calvados)
¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
½ ounce cranberry syrup
Syrup: Combine water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the cranberries, and simmer 10 minutes or until the berries soften and pop. Remove from heat, and cool to room temperature. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean jar, pressing the cranberries to extract as much juice as possible. Refrigerate up to 1 month. (Makes about 1 ¾ cups.)
Cocktail: Combine the brandy, lemon juice and syrup in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake 10 seconds and strain into a chilled martini, coupe or Nick & Nora glass. Garnish with a lemon twist and, if desired, skewered cranberries.
Makes 1 cocktail.