Many years ago now I remember one night when I met up with a friend in London we opted to meet in a small Cuban-themed bar/restaurant. It was a cold, windy mid-week night and most sensible people had gone home rather than out for after-work drinks but we hadn’t seen each other in a while so by the bar we perched. I think the barman was looking to make the evening pass by a bit more quickly and he offered to make us some warm cocktails. We were intrigued and agreed and the drinks were both delicious and perfect for the weather. I’m not sure if we were told what was in the various drinks (we had a couple each, all different, which he made after asking us a couple questions about our tastes) and certainly I can’t remember now quite what they were like but they inspired this spiced cranberry cocktail which, if I say so myself, is a pretty fantastic drink. You can have it either alcoholic or non, the alcoholic version just has a bit more of a kick, clearly.
Warm cocktails are such a great idea for cold weather as the warmth really works its way all through you but for whatever reason they don’t seem to have become a trend. Or I guess more accurately, they have gone out of fashion as long before our time they were popular and there are only a few remnants like hot toddys and mulled wine/glogg around to remind us. Maybe it’s pure logistics of warming drinks in a bar but it’s a shame. But you don’t have to miss out at home! And given it’s Christmas, now is the time if ever there was, particularly for a cranberry cocktail.
This is a very easy cocktail/mocktail that you can adapt the alcohol part to taste – I think either rum or gin would work best here (I know they are a bit different but they both pair well), but you could also try it with your favorite spirit if you prefer and see how you like it. I used some of our cranberry gin for an extra bit of seasonal spirit but regular gin would be fine.
It’s amazing how a gently warm and spiced drink can both get you in the festive mood and warm you through to your toes – not that we need warming today, it’s a strangely warm Christmas here this year but we’ll take it. I know there’s enough festive excitement in my toddler for the lot of us, but I’ll be having a glass of this spiced cranberry cocktail to help me get in the spirit. And then I’ll be making a pitcher (or three) and taking it over to Angie and friends at Fiesta Friday (with co-hosts Judi, Mollie, Steffi, and Suzanne) as it’s an extra big celebration there today – not only is it Christmas, it’s the 100th Fiesta Friday and the party’s being extended to cover the second birthday. While I’ve not taken part for as long as that, I have for over a year and it’s been a lot of fun, such a friendly group, and so I definitely think they deserve a glass or more of this warm spiced cranberry cocktail to help everyone celebrate. I hope you’ll head on over to see what else everyone has brought, when you get a chance, but first get back to enjoying your day with family, as I will be.
Warm spiced cranberry cocktail (or mocktail)
This drink has warming, seasonal flavors, with or without a little kick.
- 6 fl oz cranberry juice 175ml
- 3 fl oz orange juice 90ml
- 1/2 cinnamon stick
- 2 cloves
- 1 slice fresh ginger
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 1/2 fl oz rum 45ml, or gin, optional
Place the cranberry juice, orange juice, cinnamon, cloves and ginger in a small pan and warm gently until it comes to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer a couple minutes.
Remove from the heat, add the honey and rum/gin, if using, stir in and strain the spices off as you serve in a glass.
Note - if you are making a larger batch, you can instead, if you prefer, heat it in a slow cooker over around 2 hours on low using the same proportion of juices but not quite as many spices (so eg 24oz cranberry juice, 12oz orange juice with 1 cinnamon stick, 4 cloves and 2-3 slices of ginger).