Christmas. Chanukah. Kwanzaa. Festivus. No matter your beliefs, this is a special time of year. A time for family and togetherness….and drinks!
So you don’t end up looking like Cousin Eddie standing in a gutter, we offer you a cranberry gin, without the sin.
1 oz juniper berries
1 cup of water
½ cup of demerara sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cranberry juice
Tonic water (good quality stuff!)
Lemon peel from ½ of a lemon
Juniper berries are what gives gin its distinct flavor. Without the fermented grain, we can use the juniper to achieve a nonalcoholic version.
Muddle the juniper berries, or simply smash with the back of a spoon. They’re not chestnuts, but next we will roast the juniper berries on an open fire…or electric range….whatever, just go with it.
Medium heat, for 2-3 minutes, just until they become fragrant.
After roasting, place the juniper beans and the lemon peel in a French press. Add 1 cup of boiling water.
(And yes, that IS a lemon. Freshly picked off my tree!)
Let the juniper berries and lemon peel steep for 5 minutes, then plunge the press.
Strain out the berries and lemon peel.
Using the French press is a perfect way to separate the berries from the water, creating a great gin flavor!
Pour the strained juniper juice over 1 cup of demerara sugar, and bring to a boil- just until the sugar dissolves. This will create a gin syrup.
Allow the syrup to cool.
Fill a glass with ice. Combine 1/3 cup of cranberry juice and ½ cup of the juniper syrup. Top off with a quality tonic water, and give it a stir.
Garnish with a lemon or lime slice, and some fresh cranberries if you have them. (I didn’t try adding cranberry sauce, but I think I’d steer away from using it.)
The result: a drink that not only looks good at your party, but tastes good as well!
Come on, admit it…..your mouth is watering already, isn’t it?!
Enjoy! And Happy Holidays!