This drink, from Nathaniel Smith of Spoon and Stable in Minneapolis, hits all the right holiday notes: simmered tart cranberries, toasty spices, some piney gin, and a topper of bubbly. It's ideal for batching in advance of a party. The cranberry cordial can be made up to several weeks ahead, and the cocktail mix can be combined an hour or two before your guests arrive.
- For the Spiced Cranberry Cordial:
- 3 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
- 2 whole star anise pods
- 5 cardamom pods
- 3 whole cloves
- 1 cup (240ml) water
- 2 cups (400g) sugar
- Peel of one orange (use a vegetable peeler to remove zest only)
- 2 cups (225g) fresh cranberries
- 1 cup (240ml) fresh juice from about 8 limes
- 3/4 teaspoon (3g) kosher salt
- For the Cocktail Mix (8 Servings):
- 1 cup (240ml) Spiced Cranberry Cordial (see note)
- 1 cup (240ml) freshly squeezed juice from 2 pink grapefruits
- 1 1/2 cups (360ml) London Dry gin
- To Serve:
- 1 bottle (750ml) chilled sparkling wine, to top
- Fresh cranberries threaded on cocktail picks, for garnish
For the Spiced Cranberry Cordial: Add cinnamon sticks, star anise, cardamom, and cloves to a saucepan and toast over medium heat, shaking pan frequently, until fragrant; make sure not to let them burn. Add water, sugar, orange peel, cranberries, lime juice, and salt and stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer and cook, using a wooden spoon to smash fruit against side of pan, until all of the cranberries have popped. Remove from heat and let cool completely, 1 to 2 hours. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a resealable container. Cordial can be kept up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator.
For the Cocktail Mix: Up to 2 hours before serving, mix cordial, grapefruit juice, and gin in a pitcher, bottle, or resealable container. Use immediately or store up to 2 hours in the refrigerator. Cocktail mix makes 8 servings; feel free to double the recipe.
For Each Cocktail: Fill a Collins glass with ice and add 3 1/2 ounces (105ml) Cocktail Mix and 2 ounces (60ml) chilled sparkling wine. Stir gently and garnish with skewered cranberries.
Fine-mesh strainer, resealable container
The cranberry cordial recipe makes about 2 1/2 cups (600ml), so you can double the cocktail mix recipe if you're expecting a large group. Extra cranberry cordial is also nice with club soda and a squeeze of orange or grapefruit.