Winter Drinks With Will: The Bloody Upper Lip

[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Your new drinking buddy Will will be dropping by with recipes, reviews, and general booze-related musings. He's an itinerant reader and writer who's not above slinging drinks or pushing commas to pay life's various tabs. He likes cheese and bacon, but not as much as the rest of you weirdos seem to. Will judges bars not by the color of their Johnnie Walker but by the content of their bourbon list. Welcome Will!

In high school I had a crush on Cranberries singer Dolores O'Riordan and in college I had a what-have-you with a bog-farmer's daughter, and since then my cranberry experience has been the same as any other man's: gross jelly on Thanksgiving and the odd Ocean Spray-and-Popov when no one's looking. This is unacceptable. Cranberry juice is good for so much more than pinkening the drinks of fictional shoe-shopping TV harpies and home-remediating mysterious feminine health concerns.

When I'm in charge of marketing for the world cranberry council, I'm going to launch an aggressive male-outreach campaign. I think what cranberries need is a co-branded ad campaign with one of those trucks that sexily muddy men use to push and pull things of great consequence in football-game commercials. But we'll get to that later. This cranberry elevation process is a matter of historical import and as such must begin with a good stiff drink.

First off, we need to start with real cranberries (or what's the point?), and we need to liquefy some or all of them. Otherwise we're eating, which has its place, but we came here to drink. My favorite kitchen item is the magical box that keeps the beer cold, and the juicer is a close second. Raw cranberries are pretty stingy with the juice, though, so we're back to the stovetop—just cook 'em down with some sugar, water, and rosemary, and make sure to cover the pot. It's a shame to muffle the sound of popping berries, but if you don't cover the pot you get cranberry splatter on the wall.

As for booze, gin is the best match for cranberries because it's tough enough to stand up to the bite, and the best match for rosemary because every other herb's already in there. Plus gin is what taciturn English people drink and therefore appropriate for our mission of butching up cranberry juice's image. Shake it up with ice, dip the rim of your glass into a shallow plate of water, then into a plate full of ground walnuts (more manly than a sugared-rim), strain your Bloody Upper Lip into your glass and marvel at how far your cranberries have come.

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Winter Drinks With Will: The Bloody Upper Lip

About This Recipe

Yield:At Least 4
Active time:10 minutes
Total time:30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
  • 1 (12-ounce) bag cranberries
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts
  • London Dry Gin

Procedures

  1. 1

    Combine 1/2 cup sugar, cranberries, rosemary, and 2 cups water in small saucepan over medium-high heat. Cover and cook until cranberries are mostly popped, about 10 minutes. Uncover, reduce to a simmer, and cook until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes longer. Strain through fine mesh strainer, reserving syrup and solids.

  2. 2

    Meanwhile, grind walnuts and remaining tablespoon sugar in food processor, blender, or mortar and pestle until roughly powdered. Transfer to plate.

  3. 3

    For each drink, combine 2 ounces gin, 1 ounce cranberry syrup, and 1/4 cup strained cranberries in ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously. Dip rim of chilled martini glass in water, then into walnut-sugar mixture. Strain drink into glass and serve immediately.

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