This is one of my favorite things to make over the holidays yet because I put it on my blog a couple of years ago, it has for the most part languished in the nether world of being there but no one knowing it. As I work to finish the batch for this year along with the Coffee Liqueur (Faux Kahlua!) I bottled last week I decided this was one of those ‘have to’s.’ Meaning I have to take some new photos, I have to re-post this article and then most importantly? You have to make it!
I’ve mentioned I make my Christmas gifts and each year is a greater challenge to make something more unique than the last. When I made this several years ago it was one of my first forays into the making of a liqueur. As it turns out they are pretty easy. Some inexpensive vodka, sugars and your choice of flavors and you’ve got your own brew. How cool is that? Especially cool when vodka, sugars and a few different ingredients are all you need for both the cranberry and coffee liqueurs.
It makes a nice sipping liqueur with a touch or orange in the mix but I especially love this gorgeous cocktail for the holidays. Though I’ve labeled the cocktail as a champagne one, the truth is I most often use a Spanish Cava. Know what the difference is? Mostly $$$’s. Only sparkling wines made from the Champagne region in France can legally be called champagne but both Italy’s Prosecco and Spain’s Cava suit me just fine. Sure, use Champagne if you must but I typically never mix a liqueur with a good champagne, preferring the more reasonably priced alternatives. And those berries that are left after brewing? Perfect on some pound cake with whipped cream for a very special holiday dessert or just served simply with some ice cream and a splash of the liqueur; it’s ice cream with attitude!
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 cups fresh cranberries
- 3 Tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice
- 1 tablespoon grated orange rind
- 2 cups vodka (Use decent vodka but top shelf not required)
- 1 & 1/2 oz Cranberry Liqueur, chilled
- 4 oz Champagne, Cava or Prosecco, chilled
- Combine sugar and water in heavy saucepan and bring to boil. Simmer sugar syrup for three minutes, making sure all of the sugar has dissolved in the water.
- Add cranberries, orange juice and orange rind.
- Remove syrup mixture from heat and cool slightly.
- Add mixture to Cuisinart and chop just slightly to open up berries; cool completely.
- Add vodka and mix thoroughly.
- Pour into container; glass or plastic. Cover and store in a dark, cool location for 3 weeks. (I put mine in the garage).
- Stir ingredients every couple of days.
- Once the mixture is ready, strain through fine metal sieve; saving the berries. Be careful and not eat the whole bowl full of these beauties; great on vanilla ice cream with a splash of the liqueur.
- Pour liqueur into glass jars and store in airtight container. To ship this for gifts; I put it into these bottles with a tight seal and then wrapped the top and seals with clear plastic strapping tape just to be safe!
- We put some of the berries into a champagne flute and combine Spanish Cava with the liqueur for a gorgeous holiday cocktail.
- Time does not include the 3 weeks for 'brewing.'
- Pour the cranberry liqueur into chilled champagne glasses; top with your choice of chilled sparkling wine.
I found the bottles I used the first year I did this at The Container Store; I've since seen them at World Market too.
Amanda is a friend on Twitter who lives in Australia and she wanted to make this recipe. We might take cranberries for granted in the states; the majority of the world production of berries is from bogs in the US and Canada so typically they are only available as a frozen product in Australia. She and I conferred and I thought this would come together fine with frozen cranberries. Alas, seems Australia is suffering from a frozen cranberry shortage (Oh NO!!) so it was time to punt. She made her batch using dried cranberries and I wanted to share that link with you if you find yourself in her shoes. For a version using dried cranberries, please visit Amanda’s blog, Lambs Ear and Honey…tell her Barb sent you. :) And cheers Amanda!
In keeping with my nature to make fun of my beginning efforts at photography, I present you with another ‘original’ photo. Not just old but the day I bottled, packaged and shipped off to places all over the country for family. I think that bottle on the right was full at first but the stress of the day got to me; thank goodness for a nip every now and then! (I’m kidding. I think.)
For more cocktails and the occasional appetizer too, visit our Friday Cocktails section!