Why It Works
- The shrub's tangy flavor works well to counterbalance a celebratory meal's richer flavors.
- The drink is great for parties, since it can be prepped in advance.
Back in colonial days, a shrub syrup was the best way of preserving fruit without refrigeration. This autumnal cocktail gets its sweet-tart flavor from a shrub made with cranberries and spiced with black pepper.
- For the Cranberry-Black Pepper Shrub:
- 2 cups (approximately 10 ounces by weight) cranberries
- 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns, lightly crushed
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- For the Cocktails:
- 36 ounces chilled sparkling wine (from 2 bottles)
- 20 dashes orange bitters
- 12 ounces chilled Cranberry-Black Pepper Shrub
- Cranberries, for garnish
For the Cranberry-Black Pepper Shrub: In a nonreactive saucepan, combine cranberries, peppercorns, apple cider vinegar, sugar, and water. Stir to combine. Cover and place over medium-high heat. Cook, opening the lid and stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves and some of the cranberries begin popping open, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, uncover, and allow to cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Pour entire mixture into an airtight, nonreactive container. Refrigerate at least 8 and up to 12 hours. Strain mixture twice through a fine-mesh strainer, transfer to an airtight container, and refrigerate for up to one month.
For the Cocktails: Slowly pour chilled sparkling wine into a pitcher. Add bitters and chilled cranberry-black pepper shrub. Stir very gently to mix. Serve immediately. Individual glasses can be garnished with cranberries.
Medium saucepan, fine-mesh strainer, airtight containers, pitcher
For a non-alcoholic alternative, combine 1 ounce of the cranberry-black pepper shrub, 1/4 ounce simple syrup, and 3 ounces club soda in a wine glass. (Add two dashes of orange bitters, if desired—they contain a tiny amount of alcohol.) Garnish with cranberries and serve.