At least four magazines at the checkout, all with gorgeous spreads of carefully styled heritage birds and homemade place cards. Countless lists with scribbled items. A freezer full of foil wrapped circles and squares. And a vice-like grip on your brain that has you mentally paralyzed and pacing the kitchen.
If you are anything like me, you are feeling the pains of the perfect holiday. It’s amazing how much pressure we put on ourselves. We comb through the piles of old recipes. We search for new ideas to impress. We all need a cocktail.
Deep breaths. This year, my contribution is simple.
Cranberry Orange Vanilla Infused Vodka. BOOM.
All of the flavors. All of the drinks. Your one stop (simple) cocktail of the season.
But there are so many flavored vodkas readily available at my liquor store. But they have fancy new flavors like whipped cream and Swedish fish and… Don’t even. This is on a whole other level.
But why would I create my own flavored vodka when I have so many other things to make? Trust me. It takes like 15 minutes of actual work, and if you find yourself cursing the turkey for setting off the smoke alarm, you will be grateful for a good swig of this.
Because let’s face it, like all good friends, the cranberry, the orange, and the vanilla bean love being together. But add a little vodka in the mix, and hello! This one’s dishing out all the good gossip, that one’s singing karaoke, and someone’s dancing on a table. Things are way more fun.
Cranberry Orange Vanilla Infused Vodka
- 12 oz, whole, raw cranberries, stems removed
- the juice of 1 orange
- the rind of 1 orange (orange only)
- 1 vanilla bean , split
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1/8 cup granulated white sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- 750 ml vodka
Add all of the ingredients, except the vodka, to a medium-sized sauce pan and heat over medium heat on the stove top. Stir the mixture occasionally, pressing the cranberries against the sides so they burst. After about 10 minutes, and the mixture is cooked down slightly, remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Transfer all of the mixture into a pitcher, and pour all of the vodka over it. Give it a good stir, cover it, and put it in the fridge.
Then forget about it, if you can, for at least two nights. Three or four nights would be better.
Strain the infused mixture through a sieve or cheesecloth, squeezing or pressing every last bit of flavored vodka out of the fruit. Transfer the now infused vodka to an airtight bottle, and store in the fridge.
What happens next is purely up to you. Drink it straight if you are hardcore. Sip it over ice if you need to take the edge off. Shake it up with a little Cointreau and a squeeze of lime for the ultimate cosmopolitan. Seriously.
Or you could do what I did, which was serve it over some ice with a few glugs of ginger beer.
It’s the winterized version of a Moscow Mule. A Moscow Mule with Uggs. No. Thanksgiving in Moscow.
Cold. Refreshing. And just enough vodka to make your holiday a happy one. Cheers!