It’s the beginning of December, but it’s hard to tell when you live in South Florida. Well, it’s hard to tell if you’re going by the weather, but it still feels like Christmas. I love this time of year, so I like to go all out for the big holiday dinner. I’m pretty proud of this year’s Christmas dinner menu—it’s a good one! I’m kicking it off with this Holiday Gin & Tonic. I managed to find the fillable ornaments, and I am so psyched to give this recipe a try!
This Holiday Gin and Tonic is full of the festive flavours of cranberry and clementine. This is going to be your new favourite G&T.
As usual, I had a few things on hand for this recipe. Sugar, simple syrup, apple cider vinegar, and orange bitters. I even had a beautiful navel orange sitting on my counter. That left me with a medium-ish list, but it wasn’t too bad.
I found all the produce at my regular grocery store. They didn’t have clementine juice, so I bought a bag of clementines to juice myself. Fresh juice is always better, so I’m kind of happy that happened.
I had to run to Total Wine for the liquor and tonic water. I tried to find the sloe gin closer to home, but it’s apparently a bit of a specialty item around here.
This is one of those 2-part recipes since you have to make the cranberry shrub from another recipe on this blog. I read that and immediately visualized a cranberry bush, but that’s not the kind of shrub here. This is a vinegared syrup infused with aromatics and used to flavor cocktails. Interesting premise and the idea of vinegar in a cocktail has piqued my interest!
Here’s how my time was spent:
- 8 minutes to make the cranberry shrub
- 2 minutes to make the sugar-frosted rosemary sprigs
- 4 minutes to make the cocktail
- 14 minutes total
The shrub was simple and only took me 6 minutes. I put the cranberries and sugar into a mixing bowl and used my immersion blender to mix. Cranberries aren’t particularly juicy, so this wasn’t anything like blending soup or sauce. Instead, I had to set it into the cranberries, pulse, then lift and repeat in another area.
The recipe does mention this can also be done in a food processor, and I was tempted to try that. The only thing that stopped me was that it’s hard to keep from over-blending. The immersion blender was much more controlled, only took a few minutes, and had less clean-up.
Once the cranberries and sugar were blended, I used a vegetable peeler to peel the orange. The recipe specifies no pith with the peel, so simply peeling it as if I were going to eat it would not have worked. The pith is bitter, and I’m guessing the flavor would ruin the shrub.
The final step was stirring in the apple cider vinegar. I transferred the mixture from a mixing bowl to a sealed container and made sure to stir it daily for a week. It saved some space versus the mixing bowl and kept my refrigerator from smelling like apple cider vinegar.
After a week, I strained the shrub once with my regular mesh strainer, and again with my fine cocktail strainer. It removed the tiny cranberry seeds I didn’t realize were there and gave me a perfectly smooth shrub.
Sugar-Frosted Rosemary Sprigs
Making the cocktail started out with the frosted rosemary sprig garnish. I didn’t follow the instructions to the letter. Instead, I used a shallow bowl for the simple syrup and the sugar.
First, I placed three rosemary sprigs into one bowl and poured the simple syrup over them. I also used my fingers to swish them around a little since ended up floating in the syrup.
Once the rosemary was thoroughly wet, I put it into a second shallow bowl and poured the sugar over it. I didn’t think it was frosted enough, so I sprinkled on more sugar until I was happy. Then I placed both sprigs onto a wire cooling rack with a paper towel underneath. The sugar gets everywhere, even with the slightest bump!
Holiday Gin & Tonic
The actual cocktail might have been the easiest part of this whole process. I started things off by juicing two clementines and a lemon. Then I filled a mixing glass with ice cubes, measured in everything but the tonic water, and gave it a good stir.
I originally thought I would serve the cocktail inside a martini glass in a fillable ornament with tonic water at the ready to pour in afterward. Unfortunately, the cocktail didn’t fill the ornament all the way, and it just didn’t look right (see below).
Instead, I decided to mix the cocktail with tonic water and filled the ornaments to the max. Way cuter! A funnel made it easy to fill three fillable Christmas ornaments, and I served each in a champagne saucer filled with frosted cranberries and a frosted rosemary garnish. I loved this version!
The recipe did include instructions to frost the rosemary, but I used the method in the recipe below. I tried the recipe’s method, but dipping the rosemary in simple syrup and immediately coating it in sugar made things drippy. My recipe takes longer, but allowing the simple syrup to dry first and makes the sugar frosting last without clumping.
Sugared Cranberries (No cooking required!)
Sugar-covered cranberries make a festive Christmas garnish for drinks, desserts, and more! This method can be used with other types of fruit too. Try it with strawberries, blueberries, grapes, etc.
- 1 cup fresh cranberries
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup simple syrup * See notes
Place cranberries into a small mixing bowl. Pour the simple syrup over them and stir to thoroughly coat each cranberry.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the cranberries from the bowl and place onto a wire cooling rack. Allow to dry for at least 1 hour.
Pour half the sugar into a small mixing bowl that is completely dry. Add the cranberries, then pour the rest of the sugar over them. Gently stir to ensure all the berries are coated with sugar.
Remove the cranberries with a slotted spoon. Use immediately or store refrigerated in an airtight container for 2-3 days.
*Simple syrup can be bought ready-made easily made at home with this Simple Syrup recipe.