Another way to bring cranberries to the feast

SIPS

November 26, 2003|By Sara Engram | Sara Engram,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

There are times when cranberries have a hard time finding a place at the table. Not as holiday season approaches. This time of year, no feast is complete without them.

But why confine cranberries to the table? These little berries pack enough flavor to liven up feast-day beverages at least as merrily as they complement the turkey and trimmings.

Cranberry juice now comes in two colors. The traditional red has been joined by white cranberry juice, which is pressed from berries harvested a few weeks before they turn crimson. The juice they produce is less tart than the red version. It also provides the advantage of avoiding red stains in the event of spills.

White or red, cranberry juice makes a good base for a festive punch, served warm or cold. If you're planning for a cold punch before dinner, Ocean Spray suggests a cranberry-mint ice ring for your bowl: Freeze a layer of water 1/2 inch to 1 inch deep in a bundt pan or ring mold.

Then wet the ice layer with 1/4 inch water and arrange red cranberries and mint leaves into your desired pattern and return to the freezer. Once it sets, add another 1/2 inch to 1 inch of water and freeze until solid. To unmold, run briefly under warm water to loosen. Float the ring in the punch bowl.

If you prefer a hot drink, try a warming cranberry wassail - red or white. For something more spirited, there's another clear cranberry drink: cranberry vodka. Stoli Cranberi is a new entry in this department. It offers enough cranberry flavor to sip on the rocks or with tonic.

You also can use it as a handy way to stir up a more adventurous drink for the season. It pairs particularly well with apple liqueurs. So here's to cranberries - on the plate and in the glass.

Warm Cranberry Wassail

Makes 14 six-ounce servings

one 64-ounce bottle Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Cocktail

2 1/2 cups apple juice

1/4 cup sugar, optional

three 3-inch cinnamon sticks

1 teaspoon whole allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

orange slices, optional garnish

whole cloves, optional garnish

Combine all ingredients, except garnishes, in a large saucepan. Heat to boiling, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Strain punch to remove spices. Place in a heat-proof punch bowl. Garnish with orange slices studded with cloves, if desired.

- Ocean Spray

Warm Winter-White Wassail

Makes 6 servings

one 64-ounce bottle Ocean Spray White Cranberry Juice Drink

four 3-inch cinnamon sticks

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

6 teaspoons butter, softened

6 teaspoons brown sugar

3 ounces almond liqueur, optional

six 3-inch cinnamon sticks, garnish

Combine juice, 4 cinnamon sticks and ginger in a large saucepan. Heat to boiling, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Put 1 teaspoon each of butter and brown sugar in 6 large mugs. Pour hot juice drink into each mug. Stir gently. Add 1/2 ounce almond liqueur to each mug, if desired. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

- Ocean Spray

Happy Pilgrim

Makes 1 drink

1 1/2 ounces Stoli Cranberi

1/2 ounce triple sec

1 splash Chambord

1 squirt Rose's Lime Juice

lemon twist, garnish

Combine all ingredients, except the lemon twist, in glass mixer, chill and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the lemon twist.

- Stolichnaya

Stoli Cran- Apple Martini

Makes 1 drink

3 ounces Stoli Cranberi

1 1/2 ounces triple sec

1 ounce sour apple liqueur

splash of cranberry juice

splash of 7-Up

Pour all ingredients into a shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a martini glass.

- Stolichnaya

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