Why It Works
- Unsweetened 100% cranberry juice, such as R. W. Knudsen, adds bold flavor and brightness to the drink when paired with delicately tangy champagne vinegar.
- Crushed ice provides quick dilution and chills the drink in the glass.
- Batching 12 servings in advance means there's no last-minute fuss and guests can serve themselves.
Dee Ann Quinones dreamed up this warming and festive single-spirit drink recipe for the holiday menu at Grace Gaelic Hospitality in New York. It's perfect for wintertime entertaining because you can make the easy cinnamon-spiced cranberry mixer far ahead of the last-minute chaos, add booze, and offer the drink in a pitcher for guests to serve themselves. Don't be afraid of the vinegar: It slips in just enough tartness to balance the warm cinnamon and whiskey flavors.
Crushed ice is essential here to give the drink adequate dilution and chill. If you don't have a Lewis bag and mallet, fill a zipper-lock plastic bag with ice, wrap it in a dish towel, and give it a few wallops with a meat tenderizer or rolling pin.
Reprinted with permission from The One-Bottle Cocktail: More Than 80 Recipes With Fresh Ingredients and a Single Spirit by Maggie Hoffman, copyright © 2018. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.
- For the Quick Cranberry-Cinnamon Shrub:
- 1 cup sugar (7 ounces; 200g)
- 4 ounces (120ml) unsweetened 100% cranberry juice
- 4 ounces (120ml) champagne vinegar
- 5 cinnamon sticks
- For the Pitcher Cocktail:
- 24 ounces (720ml) rye whiskey (see note)
- 12 ounces (180ml) Quick Cranberry-Cinnamon Shrub
- Garnish: 12 cinnamon sticks (optional), 12 fresh mint springs, 35 fresh cranberries or red currants
For the Quick Shrub: Combine sugar, cranberry juice, and vinegar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and stir well to mix. Break up cinnamon sticks and add to the syrup. Stir constantly for about 5 minutes to dissolve sugar and bring mixture to a bare simmer, then remove from heat and let sit, covered, for 30 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer set over a resealable container and discard cinnamon sticks. Refrigerate shrub for at least 1 hour and up to 1 week.
For the Pitcher Cocktail: Combine rye and 12 ounces shrub together in a 1 1/2– or 2-quart pitcher and stir well to mix. Pour about 3 ounces (90ml) into each julep cup or rocks glass. Fill with crushed ice. Garnish each glass with a mint sprig (and cinnamon stick, if desired) plus 3 cranberries or red currants, and a straw.
Saucepan, fine-mesh strainer, 1 1/2– or 2-quart pitcher, straws for serving
If you're not a fan of rye, try cognac; it makes a satiny-smooth, easy-drinking version of the punch. If you'd prefer to mix drinks individually, just combine two parts rye to one part shrub and mix well together before adding crushed ice.