Cranberry cordial turns those fat but pippy red berries that appear but once a year into something special. No, not turkey stuffing. This simply red and simple to create liquor makes Prosecco and Champagne fizz and cheap sparkling white shimmer. The tipple to toast in the New Year!
I love the idea of cranberries; all that bright red resonates with ‘Red Bistro’ after all. The trouble is, they are linked in my mind to stuffing and poultry as well as that fruit’s other favourite haunt – the health food shop carton of cranberry juice. Cranberry tarte tatin? Perhaps, but I’ve not time nor inclination to do more pastry after the mince pie bonanza. Christmas food is one thing, but I’ve rarely turned my head to a drinks menu proper. Cranberry cordial sprung to mind. Not sure why, but it seems to be more in the spirit of New Year than Christmas. This regal coloured berry needs something more fitting to set off its properties than turkey. Cranberry cordial, a mixer and a fortified wine cum liquor in its own right. Now, that’s more like it!
A quick daytime task (aka joy) it was to set about making cranberry cordial for the first time. In the knowledge that pleasant evening drinks await using it up over the NYE into January period. If you decant it into small bottles it makes an unusual winter gift. Set to then, and don’t drink it all – share some spirit and buy some extra cranberries next Xmas along with those for the stuffing.
Prost! Cheers! Skål! Salute! Cin-cin! or whatever your language’s version, I wish you a peaceful and healthy 2013 after the partying of tonight.
All images © Liz Ayling 2012
Recipe: Cranberry cordial
Makes 3/4 of a wine bottle. Stores for a year in tightly-stoppered or sealable, sterilised glass bottles.
350g fresh cranberries (frozen will do but fresh far better – don’t use dried though)
500ml red wine (medium priced ideal but try not to use the very cheapest plonk)
2 cups sugar (1 cup = 250ml)
1/2 cup brandy, Vodka or another liquor (Vodka is best if you intend making cocktails with it)
Wash and drain the berries and discard any that aren’t all that perfect. Place the wine and sugar in a heavy-based pan and heat gently at first til the sugar dissolves, then bring to the boil for a moment before reducing the heat to medium-low. Add the cranberries and simmer very gently for around 5 mins until most have popped. Remove from heat, set aside decanting the berry mixture into a wide jug to cool. Leave at room temperature til cool, then strain the mixture through a non-reactive sieve or muslin (or jelly bag) into a basin. It is best to leave it to drip overnight (at least 4-5 hours if possible). Stir in the liquor of choice – eg. brandy. Then, decant the cordial into a sterilised glass bottle. You can use old-fashioned lemonade bottles with a metal hing bung, or an old wine bottle stopped with a rubber vacuum bung. The cordial keeps for up to a year if sealed correctly. Once open, best to store in the fridge.
Use it to make a cranberry version of Kir Royale or as a cocktail mix with Vodka etc. Ideal also to drink like a fortified wine/Port, in small shot glasses.
The Damask red background is a luxurious wallpaper by Thibault. The range is available in Malta from Camilleri Paris Mode whom we’d like to thank for the kind loan of the sumptuous samples book for our festive photo shoots.