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I challenge you to think of a time when you weren't completely delighted by the presence of an unexpected treat garnishing your drink. From a bacon wrapped bloody mary topper to a brandied cherry at the bottom of your Kir Royale, a high-quality garnish reminds you that your beverage was created with purpose. Delicious, delicious purpose.
So this holiday season, I thought I'd cook up something that would add a Christmas-y flair to the bevy of cocktails that always seem to make their way into my home in December. Something that intentionally pairs well with many different cocktails and has flavors that are uniquely Winter. Cranberries, with their vibrant color and bitter-tart bite, were of course my base of choice. I've always felt they had more potential than the ubiquitous Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauce, and I wanted to use this opportunity to let them shine in a new way. But what to pair them with? It wasn't a hard question to answer.
Part crystal snifter on a Chesterfield sofa, part iced-down 2002 frat party, the orange warmth of Grand Marnier was an easy choice to tone down the otherwise aggressive bitterness of fresh cranberries. Perfect for topping a rye manhattan, a champagne cocktail, or a festive cranberry margarita -- these little poppable, boozy cranberries are exactly what you need to keep your holidays lit... er .... I mean bright.
- 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries about 6 ounces
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup Grand Marnier
- In a large saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil, stirring often to dissolve the sugar.
- Once all of the sugar has dissolved into the water ( congratulations, you just made simple syrup! ), add the fresh cranberries to the pot, and continue to boil until the first few cranberries begin to "pop" ( see notes at the bottom of the recipe). This will be between one and two minutes.
- Once you see (and hear) the cranberries starting to pop their skins, remove the pot from the heat and let it cool off for about 15 minutes.
- Strain the cranberries into a jar, and pour the Grand Marnier on top. Fill the rest of the jar with simple syrup ( or until all cranberries are covered ).
- Optional: Chill the cranberries for 48 hours before using, to let the booze soak into them even more.