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Make Ahead Cranberry Cocktails for Thanksgiving

Cranberry CocktailsCranberry is one ingredient that will certainly find its way in your Thanksgiving table as a sauce to the traditional turkey. But aside from swamping the turkey with that sweet-tart-savory flavor, you can also boost the holiday cheer by making cranberry your official cocktail this Thanksgiving, if it isn’t yet.

Even those who aren’t a big fan of cranberry find these cocktails a real treat during festive occasions such a Thanksgiving.

Get it All Mixed in Advance: Tangy Cranberry-Black Pepper Shrub Cocktail

Thanksgiving officially marks the long holiday and the start of relatives and friends coming around for reunions or casual visits. At a time like this, who would like to be tied down in the kitchen making crowd pleasers – mixing drinks and preparing bites and platters of dishes? Get creative and prepared; foods and drinks that can be prepared in advance should be your allies this Thanksgiving.

Elana Lepkowski shares the Tangy Cranberry-Black Pepper Shrub Cocktail, a cranberry cocktail recipe you can prepare ahead of time for a fun party in Serious Eats’ Prep This Easy Thanksgiving Cranberry Cocktail in Advance. She explains why it can hold without spoiling for a while:

“It’s based on a black pepper–spiced cranberry shrub that’s sweet, savory, and tart. As you might recall, shrub syrups were a way for folks to preserve fruit back in colonial days, before refrigeration. That preservative power means you can mix up your shrub base way in advance of the party—it keeps just fine for at least a month in the fridge.”

Lepkpowski also says this shrub mix is something you can do in a flash. To get the rich taste of the cranberry, combine all the ingredients – cranberries, apple cider vinegar, peppercorns, sugar, and water – and heat it up in medium heat until the cranberries start popping open and the sugar dissolves. Strain the mixture and store in an airtight container and chill in the refrigerator. During the party, all you need to do is to pour and add bitters with Thanksgiving flavors – cinnamon, nutmeg, baking spice, etc.

Another Make–ahead Recipe: “Cranberry “Sauce” Cocktail

The recipe is offered by Tasting Table’s Drinks editor Jim MeehanThis Cranberry Is the Sauce as a substitute for cold beer or whiskey while watching football with friends or family. The idea that Meehan toyed with is his own “Cranberry “Sauce” cocktail – traditional and infused with Thanksgiving flavors.

“… he didn’t create a traditional Boilermaker (a.k.a. a shot of whiskey dropped into a brew). Instead, his more nuanced drink—made with macerated cranberries, Wild Turkey (naturally) and bitters—is meant to be sipped over ice alongside a seasonal ale such as Anchor’s Christmas or Sierra Nevada Celebration.”

To concoct the Cranberry “Sauce” Cocktail, just make simple cranberry syrup 3 days before the event. Mix the cocktail just before the game starts.  “Combine the whiskey, cranberry simple syrup and bitters in a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice and shake vigorously until chilled. Strain into a chilled rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with the orange twist and a few macerated cranberries from the syrup. Serve with the IPA” (India Pale Ale).

More Alternative Recipes, More Fun!

As Thanksgiving draws near, the last thing you want is to be caught in a whirlwind of activity and not have time to enjoy it. While traditional foods and drinks dominate the spread on your Thanksgiving table, you want to surprise everyone with something different. Why not squeeze something stimulating and festive in your Thanksgiving fare – a cranberry cocktail that will easily blend in the ambiance of the season.

For this purpose, try any of the three suggested recipes by Andrew Knowlton in a Bon Appetit postCranberry Cocktails for Thanksgiving Day.

  • Cranberry Daiquiri: Half a cup of sugar is dissolved equal amount of water (1/2 cup) over medium heat. For flavor, add the bitters – a stick of cinnamon and half a teaspoon of grated orange zest. Then add the cranberries (half a cup) until they pop, then cool, strain and chill in a pitcher. Add half a cup of light rum and set aside the cranberries. To make the cocktail, add 6 tablespoons each of light rum, dark rum, lemon juices and the cranberry juice. Chill and serve with crushed ice, and garnished with the reserved cranberries.
  • Cranberry, Gingerly: This recipe is a spin on the Cosmo: “Shake 1/4 cup vodka, 2 tablespoons ginger beer, 1 1/2 tablespoons thawed cranberry juice cocktail concentrate, 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice, and 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger with ice in a cocktail shaker.” Strain the mixture before serving with crystallized ginger for a garnish.
  • Cranberry Mojitos: Mash a cup of fresh mint with a wooden spoon in a pitcher containing half a cup sugar. To the mixture, add 1 1/4 cups fresh lime juice and 1 3/4 cups light rum. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Add in the chilled sparkling water (3 two 10-ounce bottles) and the cranberry juice concentrate (3/4 cup)  along with 6 cups ice.

Make this Thanksgiving more fun by popping more cranberries for your turkey sauce and cranberry cocktails. Make the sweet-tart cranberries’ vibrant hue and flavor a part of your traditional feast to delight your guests.

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