Before my family tree-trimming party this weekend, I had planned to play around with my father’s eggnog recipe, swapping out the rum or whiskey for brandy, and perhaps seeing what it would be like with amaretto. But, I didn’t have the time to get in the kitchen this week to experiment to that level.

So, I decided to keep it simple and holiday-ize one of my favorite cocktails, the Gin & Tonic, adding 100 percent cranberry juice and a dash of aromatic bitters. It’s quick and easy to put together and doesn’t require a cocktail shaker.

I think it’s a smart alternative for my party, even if it’s very different from what I originally planned. I can leave all the ingredients out on the hutch in the kitchen with the recipe printed on card stock, held by a stainless steel menu clip so my guests can mix up this tart drink on their own.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 oz gin
  • 1/2 oz 100 percent cranberry juice
  • 3 1/2 oz tonic water
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • 1 tsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 dashes of aromatic bitters
  • fresh cranberries for garnish
Directions
  1. Fill an 8- or 10-ounce tall glass with ice, about 2/3 full.
  2. Add gin, juice, tonic water, simple syrup, lime juice and bitters. Stir with a bar spoon, or another long spoon.
  3. Garnish with a few fresh cranberries.
My notes
  • You don’t have to use your best gin for this drink. Between the juice and tonic water, the subtle nuances of a really great gin will get lost.
  • While I didn’t use my best gin, I did use good tonic water. I’ve started buying Q Tonic, made with organic agave instead of high fructose corn syrup. It has great carbonation, and in addition to tasting better, it has 60 percent fewer calories than many other tonic waters, without having artificial sweeteners.
  • I don’t recommend using cranberry juice cocktail instead of 100 percent cranberry juice in this drink, but if you do use it, omit the simple syrup. The cranberry juice cocktail is sweetened already.

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Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.