Shrubby cranberry bushes like to grow in moist spots, and places like Massachusetts and New Jersey have become famed for their cultivated versions of these fruits, which show up on supermarket shelves. They are delicious, but the wild kind, Vaccinium macrocarpon, are fun to seek when you’re out exploring on sunny fall weekends. The leaves look a little like a darker version of the rue leaves we were mixing up drinks with back in spring, and they start off in that season with an exotic-looking flower (that looks awfully nice in a vase, too). If you’re going cranberry hunting, wear pants that you don’t mind getting a bit mucky, and be sure to bring along extra sealable plastic bags. Just like the store-bought version, wild cranberries can be frozen and saved.
2 ounces (60ml) bourbon
½ ounce (15ml) Oloroso sherry
½ ounce (15ml) cranberry-rosemary-orange syrup (see below)
1 sprig of rosemary, for garnish
1 cup (200g) sugar
1 cup (235ml) water
2 cups wild cranberries, rinsed and chopped
2–3 wide orange peels
2 sprigs of rosemary
Fill a cocktail shaker half-full with ice cubes. Pour in the bourbon, sherry, and syrup. Shake for 25 to 30 seconds. Slowly strain into an ice-filled rocks glass, and garnish with a small sprig of rosemary.
For the syrup: In a saucepot, simmer the sugar and water, stirring, until the sugar starts to dissolve. Add the cranberries, orange peel, and rosemary and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain out the liquid, discard the solids, and store in an airtight jar in the refrigerator for up to a month.
NOTE: If you live outside of the select cranberry-growing regions, these delightful berries can also be foraged elsewhere—in specialty supermarkets around the world, often in the freezer section. Cranberries are delicate little things and not the heartiest of travelers.
This recipe is a W&S web exclusive.
photo by Claire Lloyd Davies