Assertive rye whiskey, enlivened with tart cranberry & lemon, the whole softened by 2 festive liqueurs; garnished with a bit of holiday fruit, or (depending on how you’ve been this year) – a lump of “coal.”
When Sylvia first asked if I would be up for devising a drink called a “Berry Naughty,” my initial thought was that it sounded like a color choice at Victoria’s Secret. But the idea of a winter berry cocktail was intriguing, and to my pleasant surprise, the drink came together easily (always a good sign). Think of it as a winterized Cosmopolitan.
This drink pairs perfectly with distant loved ones, made even more so by the hardships we’ve all faced this year.
I began by looking for a potent cranberry counterpart to fresh lemon juice – and I found it with unsweetened cranberry concentrate. (Cherry concentrate – also unsweetened – works well too, if you can’t find cranberry.)
Next, I needed some sweetness to tame the bitterness and acidity. Orange liqueur gets along famously with cranberry, but as orange is yet another citrus I also reached for some Benedictine, which countered all that tartness beautifully with its sweet holiday spice. A dash of celery bitters topped it all off with a nice savory note that pushed the holiday feeling even further.
And last – the garnishes…
The “coal” was fashioned from two dried plums (okay, prunes), stuck together, then trimmed with a knife and lightly dusted, for added effect, with a little activated charcoal*. [*IMPORTANT NOTE: Despite many claims as to the health benefits of activated charcoal, it should be avoided by those taking medications, as there is some evidence that it may impede their effectiveness.]
If you’ve rather been more “Nice” than “Naughty” this year, consider a classic orange peel, or a holly-esque configuration of a skewered cranberry, coated in simple syrup and flanked by fresh mint leaves.
May we still find much to be thankful for, despite the momentous challenges we’ve faced this year.
A holiday cocktail made with Rye whiskey, cranberry, lemon, and 2 liqueurs, topped with a dash of celery bitters – and whichever garnish you feel is merited this year.
(for 2 drinks)
- 3/4 ounce cranberry concentrate (unsweetened)
- 3/4 ounce lemon juice
- 1 ounce Benedictine liqueur
- 1/2 ounce orange liqueur (such as Patron Citronage, Cointreau, or Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao)
- 3 ounces rye whiskey (preferably Rittenhouse)
- 1 dash celery bitters
Garnish – Option 1
- activated charcoal
Garnish – Option 2
- fresh whole cranberries
- fresh mint leaves
Garnish – Option 3
- orange peel
- Combine liquids in a shaker tin, filled 2/3 of the way with ice.
- Stir until well chilled (about 12 seconds).
- Strain into glasses.
- Top with appropriate garnish. [See “Notes”, below.]
- Coal Garnish: Squash 2 prunes together (it works best if they’re soft), trim to make rock-like facets with a sharp knife, then dust with activated charcoal powder (I used a small bristle brush).
- Cranberry-Mint Garnish: Make a simple syrup by heating equal amounts of sugar and water in a saucepan until sugar is dissolved. Add fresh cranberries and stir until well coated. Separate cranberries on parchment paper, and allow to cool. Thread cranberries and mint leaves on skewers.
- Orange Peel Garnish: Remove a 4 inch (±) strip of peel with a vegetable peeler. Bend the orange side of the peel sharply toward the drink, then rub it around the rim of the glass. You can either then drop it in the drink, or curl it up so that one end will hook over the edge of the glass.
Keywords: cosmopolitan, holiday cocktail, cranberry cocktail, festive cocktails, cocktails