Wednesday, December 21, 2011
21 of 25: Tasty Holiday Beverages Invented By Yours Truly
Seriously, what did we do without smart phones?
Standing in the juice aisle at Super Target, staring at a bottle of Ocean Spray cranberry pomegranate blend and wondering how I can turn it into a festive non-alcoholic beverage for a Christmas party. So I Googled "cranberry pomegranate punch," and I was rewarded with Giada De Laurentiis' recipe for virgin pomegranate and cranberry bellinis, which you can access here.
Excellent. Except that I had already put a bottle of ginger ale in my basket, on the theory that many a festive holiday beverage begins with ginger ale, and I didn't feel like returning the ginger ale to the end cap from whence it came, so I decided to eschew the sparkling water line-item and wing it with the ginger ale.
And it was good.
I give you my recipe for:
IMPROVISED POMEGRANATE AND CRANBERRY BELLINI-ISH PUNCH
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 (64-oz.) bottle Ocean Spray 100% Juice Cranberry and Pomegranate Blend
1 (2-liter) bottle ginger ale
Frozen cranberries for garnish, if desired
Chill the juice and ginger ale in refrigerator. In a saucepan, combine water and sugar over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Take the pan off the heat and allow the syrup to cool. Mixture should reduce to 3 cups and can be kept in the refrigerator overnight. When ready to serve, combine juice, ginger ale and syrup in pitcher or punch bowl. Add juice from 1 lime; slice remaining limes and float slices in punch. You can add frozen cranberries for additional color, but HERE'S A TIP: there is no such thing as frozen cranberries unless you freeze them yourself.
True story: several years ago, I was trying to reproduce a friend's punch recipe, which called for frozen cranberries, and being that I am blonde I spent a good half-hour searching the frozen food section for frozen cranberries. I finally complained to a store clerk - it's the holidays, dammit, and therefore peak cranberry season, SO WHERE ARE YOUR CRANBERRIES? - and store clerk blinked a couple of times, then said in a quiet voice (so as not to further disturb the crazy woman), "Um, we have bags of cranberries that can be frozen, so perhaps you could buy one of those and put it in your freezer?"
While I was making my simple syrup, I enjoyed another tasty holiday beverage, the recipe for which I am reproducing below. Consider it a holiday bonus.
SEMI-HOMEMADE PEPPERMINT MOCHA MARTINI (IF YOUR DEFINITION OF SEMI-HOMEMADE IS "FLEXIBLE")
Coffee Mate peppermint mocha coffee creamer (the kind that they sell in bottles in the dairy section)
Vodka (I used Grey Goose)
That's it - just creamer and vodka. There are no other ingredients. Keep reading.
Pour some creamer into a cocktail shaker. Just eyeball it. Add some vodka. Add more vodka. Remember that the ice-maker in your craptastic temporary apartment is broken, so the cocktail shaker is kind of superfluous, because you won't be straining anything over anything. Shake it anyway, and "strain" mixture into plastic tumbler left over from your 40th birthday party. Because you didn't bother to bring martini glasses to the temporary apartment, and you're all out of red Solo cups. Consider rimming the glass with crushed peppermint candy but then remember that (1) you don't currently own any candy canes and (2) the drink is already in the glass, so the decorative rim ship has sailed.
It's good just by itself - promise. No fancy crushed candy or straining over ice required.