The holidays bring lots of great seasonal flavors, one of the best being the fresh tart flavor of cranberries. Lots of classic Thanksgiving and Christmas dishes use cranberries, but probably the most famous cranberry dish is cranberry relish. Most people think of the jiggly sugary canned relish, but Mr. Nom’s family has always made a fresh version that uses fresh cranberries and oranges to make a sweet tart relish that is always a hit at the holiday meal. The sweet fresh citrus and the tart cranberries make a great relish that gets even better as the combination has a chance to sit and maturate as it gets a bit of a fermented tang. This flavor always reminded us of the holidays, and with Christmas fast approaching, we wanted to make a cocktail that embraced this flavor.
We had been trying a bunch of different combinations, but none grabbed our taste buds until we decided to make a cranberry orange shrub. Shrubs are a classic way to preserve fresh fruit for later (see more about the history of shrubs on our Honey Blackberry Shrub) and the resulting liquid makes for a really great cocktail ingredient. A great combination of sweet and sour with a great fruity burst, the cranberry orange shrub came out a beautifully festive red that made for a beautiful cocktail.
For the cocktail, we chose to mix the shrub with gin, which highlighted the citrus notes of the shrub while bringing a nice herbal hint of pine, which really makes this cocktail perfect for Christmas!
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cups cranberries
- pinch salt
- 1 cup cider vinegar
- 2 oz gin
- 2 oz cranberry orange shrub
- 1.5 oz cranberry simple syrup
- .25 oz triple sec
- 3 dashes orange bitters
- sugared cranberries for garnish
- Combine water, sugar, cranberries and salt in a saucepan, simmer. Don't boil or the cranberries will pop. Take off heat, add vinegar. Store in a jar or airtight container for at least 12 hours. It doesn't need to be refrigerated.
- Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake, and strain into a glass.