Tag Archives: alcohol-free

Cranberry Simple Syrup & Sparkling Cranberry Ginger Mocktails

I never know what to post the week of Thanksgiving, but I think going with something easy that you can make anytime between now and the New Year is a good place to start.

This Fresh Cranberry Simple Syrup certainly fits that bill, clocking in with almost no active work, but plenty of vibrant color and sweet-tart flavor. It starts the way all simple syrups do: with sugar and water. While the classic proportion is 1:1, I upped the water here to accommodate the cranberries’ natural thickening agent (pectin)—we’re after syrup here, not jelly!

The berries, water and sugar are simmered together for just ten minutes, until the fruit begins to burst. Once that happens, remove the pot from the heat and use a fork or potato masher to mash all the berries into the liquid. Resist the urge to strain your syrup right away, instead letting the mashed berries hang out in it while it’s cooling. This imbues the syrup with plenty of tart cranberry flavor and vivid color. Once the half hour is up, strain and cool your syrup, then use it however you like. I bet a little over ice cream would be a treat, but I am focusing on mocktails today.

Cranberry Simple Syrup & Sparkling Cranberry Ginger Mocktails​

Let’s talk about these Sparkling Cranberry Ginger Mocktails. With their ruby color and booze-free fizz, these are a perfect beverage for any end-of-year occasion. They’re not terribly sugary, and taste intentional and not like an afterthought or just a virgin version of some classic cocktail. They taste like they have some intention behind them, if you will—they’re complete on their own.

The list of ingredients for Sparkling Cranberry Ginger Mocktails is blessedly short, and besides the homemade Fresh Cranberry Simple Syrup, everything is readily available at the grocery store.

The recipe is simple: 1 part Fresh Cranberry Simple Syrup, 2 parts ginger beer, 2 parts seltzer, 1/2 part fresh lime juice. I’ve written the recipe in “parts” rather than specific volumes so that you can make enough for two or for a crowd without doing too much math. Simply stir the ingredients together and serve over ice with cranberries and lime wedges for garnish. So cute, right? Wait til you try one—so good.

Cranberry Simple Syrup & Sparkling Cranberry Ginger Mocktails​

My absolute favorite thing about these mocktails? They’re not too sweet. There is some sweetness, of course, from the syrup and zippy ginger beer, but it’s balanced by the lime juice and diluted with seltzer in the best possible way. They taste like they were made for grown-ups because they were. How refreshing.

Cranberry Simple Syrup & Sparkling Cranberry Ginger Mocktails​

I’m taking the rest of this week off to spend time with my family. I’ll be back next week with new Christmas recipes. Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers.

Fresh Cranberry Simple Syrup
makes about 2 cups

1 1/2 cups water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 10-ounce bag fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked through

Add all ingredients to a small pot. Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes or until berries have burst. Skim off and discard any foam that accumulates. Remove pot from heat, then mash burst berries with a potato masher or fork. Let berries sit in syrup for 30 minutes.

Place a sieve over a large mixing bowl. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to press the syrup through the sieve. Discard the the leftover fruit solids or use for another purpose.

Transfer syrup to a container with a lid. Let cool completely before storing in the refrigerator.
Sparkling Cranberry Ginger Mocktails

1 part cranberry syrup
2 parts ginger beer
2 parts seltzer
1/2 part lime juice
ice
fresh cranberries, for garnish (optional)
lime wedges, for garnish (optional)

I measured in tablespoons for each glass, but feel free to use a larger units of measure to make a pitcher of mocktails.

In a liquid measuring cup or other vessel, stir together cranberry syrup, ginger beer, seltzer and lime juice.

Add ice to glasses. Pour mocktail mixture over the top and garnish with cranberries and lime, if desired. Serve immediately.

Sparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas Frescas

Sparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas FrescasYour eyes are not deceiving you. I’m posting a cold beverage on a sub-30F day here in NYC. If you think I’ve lost my mind, you’re late to the party—I’ve been known to make ice cream in February.Sparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas FrescasThe truth is that a small miracle occurred a couple of weeks ago when I managed to find better-than-decent ruby red grapefruit for a third time this winter, something that’s virtually unheard of in New York. I’m lucky to find quality grapefruit once per year (see here, here, and here), so three times is just…well, it’s making my inner Texan very happy. I try to keep that part of myself under control, but it’s very difficult around good South Texas citrus (and enchiladas), so here we are.Sparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas FrescasSparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas Frescas are exactly what I want in these last weeks of winter. They’re a fruity, bright, seasonal, sippable reminder that there will soon be a day when I can leave my coat at home. If you’ve never heard of an agua fresca, it’s just a combination of fresh fruit, sugar, and water. I made a Spicy Mango version last summer that’ll knock your socks off, and I’m excited to be adding a wintry version to my repertoire today ❤ Sparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas FrescasAs their name states, these aguas frescas are made with fresh-squeezed grapefruit and lime juices. They’re mixed together in a pitcher (or a big measuring cup, if you’re me) and sweetened to taste with a little simple syrup. I don’t care for super-sweet beverages in general, so I tend to limit the syrup to 1/3 cup for the entire batch, but feel free to sweeten to your heart’s content.Sparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas FrescasSparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas FrescasYou’ll also need simple syrup for salting the rims of your glasses. Salt is totally dreamy with both grapefruit and lime, so this is one lily worth gilding. Just dip the rim of each glass into a dish of simple syrup and then into salt. Voila! A salted rim 🙂 I used regular Kosher salt here, but anything slightly coarse will do.Sparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas FrescasSparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas FrescasSparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas FrescasAdd a few ice cubes to each of your salt-rimmed glasses and then fill them 3/4 full of the juice mixture. Most aguas frescas are blended with regular cold water, but I like to top these off with a little sparkling water. I use Topo Chico and love the subtle fizz it provides.Sparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas FrescasAren’t these fun?! I love their bright color and fresh, tangy flavor, and those salted rims, of course. They remind me a lot of a Salty Dog cocktail (aka grapefruit + vodka/white tequila + salt), but without the booze. I may or may not have taken to calling these Salty Schnauzers 🙂 Sparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas FrescasYou may, of course, add liquor to the mix, but as someone who doesn’t drink anymore, I’m always thrilled when there’s an alcohol-free option that isn’t soda, juice, or plain seltzer. I may be sober, but that doesn’t mean I only drink boring drinks.Sparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas FrescasNope. I don’t do boring.Sparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas Frescas

Sparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas Frescas
makes about 6 servings

2 1/2 cups fresh ruby red grapefruit juice (about 3 large grapefruits)
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (about 2-3 large, juicy limes)
1/3-1/2 cup simple syrup* (method in recipe notes)
ice
12 ounces sparkling water (I like Topo Chico)

For the salted rims:
1/4 cup Kosher or other coarse salt
1/4 cup simple syrup

In a pitcher or large (4+ cup) liquid measuring cup, stir together grapefruit and lime juices and simple syrup. Set aside.

Salt the rims of the glasses. Put simple syrup in a wide, shallow bowl. Make a bed of salt on a small plate. Working with one small glass at a time, dip the rim of each glass into the simple syrup and then into the salt. Repeat with remaining five glasses.

Place a few ice cubes in each glass. Fill 3/4 full with juice mixture and top each with a little sparkling water. Drinks will fizz (but not overflow) when mixture hits the salt rim. Serve immediately.

Aguas frescas will separate slowly as they sit; counteract this with a light stir. Any leftover juice mixture will keep covered in the refrigerator for a day or so.

Note: To make simple syrup, combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently, until sugar has dissolved (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before using. Leftovers can be kept in a sealed container in the refrigerator.Sparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas FrescasSparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas Frescas