Cranberry Clementine Sparkler

Traditions are what define the holidays. Traditions are comforting, they ground us, but they can also become a bit of a burden. It’s wonderful to have your entire family over for a huge Thanksgiving feast, but by the time you’re done washing up the last of the pots and pans you probably have had at least fleeting thought about eating at a restaurant next year. 

Last year we took a non-traditional approach to Thanksgiving and left the country to visit our youngest daughter - who was doing a semester abroad in Seville, Spain. It turned out to been of the most enjoyable holidays we've ever had. Yes, we did miss getting together with our extended family, but having our nuclear family together in such a beautiful place was truly memorable. The Artist had plenty of time to paint, the Mixologist/cook was able to truly relax, and our grown children got to spend time exploring the city and savoring a glass of nice Spanish wine with us at the end of the day. This year we’re at home for the holidays, and building on tradition by incorporating dry Spanish Cava into a cocktail that includes traditional holiday flavors and some local gin.

Cranberry sauce is one of those Thanksgiving traditions (does anyone serve it at any other time of the year?) Our cocktail incorporates that traditional flavor by using simple syrup that's extracted while making homemade cranberry sauce. If you are one of those people who plops cranberry sauce out of the can we suggest that you rethink that approach and try making your own. I know - I just wrote a line in the first paragraph that might make you think we're on the verge of not doing any cooking at all for the holidays, but cranberry sauce is easy, quick, and you can make it well in advance. And (in the case of the recipe below) you get the bonus of simultaneously creating a simple syrup for cocktails. This cranberry sauce/syrup has a bit of ginger and clove and works well with the citrus of the season - the ubiquitous clementine. 

I'm not sure why clementines are always sold by the crateful this time of year, but it's hard to get through the grocery store now without tripping over a stack of them. So we figured we could put that citrus to good use by adding fresh squeezed clementine juice to our cocktail recipe. It’s a twist on the classic French 75 cocktail (which is comprised of gin, lemon and champagne). Our recipe uses the spiced cranberry simple syrup, clementine, lemon, dry Spanish Cave and some local gin. The The gin we chose is Virginia-made Filibuster Dual Cask Gin. This is a “blushing gin” that incorporates local basil, lemon verbena, and rosemary. This gin doesn't have strong juniper notes, so it works well with the other ingredients without taking over.

The Cranberry Clementine Sparkler is a cocktail that incorporates traditional holiday ingredients and also reminds us of a very special non-traditional Thanksgiving. We’ve paired it with watercolors that The Cocktail Artist painted in Spain and a traditional holiday still-life done at home. We've used one of our favorite souvenirs (the cocktail swords that we found in the gift shop at the Alcazar in Segovia, Spain) to skewer the garnish. Even if we decide not to cook anything else this year, at least we'll be serving a festive cocktail (maybe along with some tapas!)

Cheers - to traditions new and old!


Cranberry Clementine Sparkler

1 1/2 ounces gin (Filibuster Dual Cask Gin)
3/4 ounce fresh squeezed clementine juice
1/2 ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 ounce spiced cranberry simple syrup (recipe below)
2 1/2 ounces Cava brut

Pour gin, clementine juice, lemon juice, and simple syrup into a cocktail shaker with ice cubes. Shake well and strain into a champagne flute. Add Cava and stir. Garnish with a clementine twist and cranberries.

Sketch of Seville Skyline - original watercolor painting by The Cocktail Artist

Spiced Cranberry Simple Syrup (and cranberry sauce)

2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon vodka

Rinse cranberries and put them in a small saucepan with brown sugar, water, ginger, and cloves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes (until all of the berries have popped open). Remove from heat and cool for 15 minutes. Pour through a fine mesh sieve - pressing on the berries to release all of the liquid. Pour the syrup into a bottle or jar, add the vodka and refrigerate. The syrup can be kept for 3 weeks in the refrigerator. What remains in the sieve makes a tasty cranberry sauce with the addition of a bit of Grand Marnier. 

Note: This syrup can be used to make a festive Old Fashioned. See our Old Thyme Cocktail recipe and substitute the spiced cranberry syrup for the honey/thyme syrup. You can also add it to club soda for a non-alcoholic spritzer.
The New Tradition cocktail and the ingredients



Thanksgiving Table - original oil painting by The Cocktail Artist



Puente de Isabel, Seville, Spain - original watercolor by The Cocktail Artist



Torre del Oro, Seville, Spain - original watercolor by The Cocktail Artist

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