Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not, cranberries season is here so let’s celebrate with a cranberry old fashioned. I’m calling it the Cran of Whoop-ass. A little off-color, but it’s been that kind of year. With cranberry sauce, maple syrup, rosemary, bourbon and bitters it’s an easy sipper that takes just a minute to muddle and shake. Bourbon Women love their bourbon and their cocktails, and if it helps get rid of leftovers and uses up some bourbon, we’re happy!
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Thanksgiving Cocktails Don’t Have to Be Pumpkin
I wanted to rebel against the idea that all holiday food ideas associated with Thanksgiving and family get togethers has to do with pumpkins. Don’t get me wrong, I love a great pumpkin pie, but I have it exactly once a year. I’m not in love with it since most of the flavor from the pie is from the spices, not the pumpkin.
So, in the spirit of sustainability, I wanted to use something we’ll likely all have leftovers of: cranberry sauce. Whether homemade or from a jar, the tart, bitter and sweet flavors of a great cranberry sauce dress up a boring turkey. In a cocktail, with a little whiskey, it’s a great alternative to pumpkin cocktails.
Flavors in this Cranberry Old Fashioned
In addition to the cranberry, I wanted to include a savory note, as we’re using tasting the cranberry as a sauce on a side of meat. Rosemary, easy to come by and something that makes a fabulous fancy garnish fit the bill. Don’t you love how cute the garnish looks with the cranberries skewered on the rosemary?
I added a bit of ginger because I wanted that sweet ginger taste you get with holiday sweets, but I didn’t want to go with cinnamon. I considered adding St Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram, but unfortunately it was too sharp, even in small quantities. I didn’t enjoy the way the earthiness of it clashed with the tart/sweet cranberry sauce. For bitters I wanted to use some gingerbread bitters I had, but regular angostura or even orange bitters would be a great fit here.
How to Make a Cran of Whoop-Ass
While we are making an old fashioned, which would normally be stirred, we need to shake here (For more on the old fashioned, it’s history and how to make a perfect one, click here). Because we’ve got cranberry sauce that we’re going to muddle with the maple and rosemary, we’ll need to shake the cocktail to help combine the sauce with the spirits. The shaking also wakes up the rosemary and gives it a little more presence in the cocktail.
Because we’re shaking it, and it’s likely to have cranberry bits in it floating around you’ll want to double-strain the cocktail to keep it from looking muddy in a glass.
To garnish the cranberry old fashioned, skewer three cranberries in a rosemary sprig. If you want, you can smoke the glass with a rosemary sprig just before adding the cocktail. This is great with just a rosemary sprig in it. The cranberries add visual interest, but not much in terms of aromatics or taste since they’re whole.
Now the amount of cranberry sauce and the sweetness of it drive how much sauce you’ll use and how much maple syrup. Taste a bit of the cranberry sauce before making the cocktail. If it’s very tart, start with 1/4 oz and add a little extra in if needed.
Recommended Bar Tools
You don’t need every slick, beautiful bar tool out there, but there are several I’ll recommend. (As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. However, that does not affect the cost of the items below.) My favorite pieces usually come from the Cocktail Kingdom section of Amazon:
You may already have these bar essentials, but just in case:
Cran of Whoop-Ass – Bourbon Women November Cocktail
- 2 oz 100 proof bourbon something a little aggressive and hot
- ¼ oz maple syrup barrel-aged if possible
- ½ oz ginger liqueur
- 1 tablespoon cranberry sauce
- 1 sprig of rosemary torn
- 3 dashes gingerbread bitters
- Garnish: rosemary skewer with cranberry
- Combine cranberry sauce, rosemary, and maple syrup in a shaking tin and muddle well to break up the cranberry sauce and activate the rosemary’s aromatics. Add ginger liqueur, bourbon, and ice. Shake well and double strain into a rocks glass over once large cube. Garnish with a rosemary skewer with a few cranberries on it.