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Entertaining Gifts

Apr 20, 2015


Some hard truth, it was not easy to narrow this down to one.

Yes, even when I choose the theme myself, I still find the challenges tough. 

This month after a year of participating in Mixology Monday I decided to try hosting one. I had read two articles back to back, this one by David Wondrich and another by Jeffery Mongenthaler. There was some debate between the mentor and mentee as to whether or not we should be reviving the old drinks or just leaving them to rot in the compost bin. I'm clearly in the revival camp. I've done a few over the last year and I'm all for second chances and shedding the shame.

There have been several drinks that I'm guilty of loving despite their bottom shelf status, but none that I drank with as much pleasure as a Vodka & Cranberry. I believe it's more popularly known as a Cape Cod, but that would have added too much class to my order. No, I opted instead to shorten it to Vodka Cran and I think I can hear distant memories of myself saying, "I'm jus' gonna have Vodka Cran", like I was doing the bartender a favour. Imagine a lame 90's meme where I'm a cross between Brenda from 90210 and Ricky Lake, and I'm definitely wearing cranberry coloured, matte lipstick.

I also have to admit that I love the drink so much that this is in fact the second time I'm remixing it. The first time was for a publication with a very diverse audience, they require the recipes to be as simple as possible. One of the reasons Mixology Monday is so useful, it forces you to think in a particular framework. The recipes I write for publication, often have specific parameters so it's very good practice. Part of my own mandate here on Tipicular is similar, I'm trying to connect home bartenders with modern mixology, so I try to keep it simple but educate as well. 

In order to remove all shame from this drink, I'm going to start with a cooked shrub, a great method to learn, that can be made with many fruits and is useful for adding acid balance to your drinks. A cranberry shrub is the perfect element for adding sweet, tart cranberry flavour while retaining the casual element of the drink.

This hot method for making shrubs is fast but it needs to carefully watched. The sugar needs to dissolve, and the cranberries need to soften and run but cooking it for too long will overly thicken it and dull the flavours. These were frozen, fresh won't be available until October. Don't forget the salt and pepper. 

I wanted to retain the essence of the drink so the vodka was a must but I when  I tried it with both a lime and a raisin vodka, neither worked. Sometimes less is more. The addition of some orange, a natural flavour match to cranberry and some aromatic bitters, bring this drink back to life. Also, perhaps due to age, I had to lighten the drink with soda. This is now a modern drink, perfect for a cottage weekend. Once pre-made, the shrub travels well and vodka is always an easy sell for the lake crowd. 

The New Brunswick
1 1/2 oz vodka
1/4 oz dry curaƧao
1 1/4 oz Cranberry Shrub*
2 drops Peychaud's bitters
5 oz soda

Add first four ingredients to a shaker, fill 3/4 with ice and shake to combine. Strain into a double old fashioned filled with cracked ice, top with soda. Garnish with frozen cranberries.

Cranberry Shrub
1 C cranberries
1 C sugar
1/2 C red wine vinegar
1/2 C white vinegar

Add all ingredients to a heavy bottom sauce pan. Over medium heat, bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer gently for 10 mins or until berries burst when stirred. Remove from heat, cool and strain. Shelf stable.

A huge Thanks to Mixology Monday, this was so much fun. (The posts are staring to come in, and they are awesome!)

Most important is the virgin  slut behind the party, Thank you Fred!

Do you have shameful drink secret? Let me know in the comments below. Maybe I can help!

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