My journey with alcohol began the way that many other girls start drinking: cranberry juice, vodka and a mission. My love affair with cocktails began on Valentine’s Day of 2003, shortly after my love affair with my college cohort ended. Before that, I had never had a sip of alcohol –no small feat for a young co-ed at a party school.
Although this gateway drink gets a bad rap in the cocktailing community because of its overt attenuation of the vodka flavors, it remains popular due to unparalleled drinkability. While this beverage may not be the most sophisticated, it’s certainly festive.
Now that holiday party season is approaching, it’s the perfect excuse to serve up a batch of garnet punch (a grown-up vodka-cran). To make Gourmet’s version, combine 1 1/2 pounds of fresh or frozen cranberries (6 cups; thawed if frozen), 2 cups of sugar, 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary, 4 1/2 cups water and 1 (750-ml) bottle of vodka (3 cups). Simmer cranberries, sugar, rosemary, and water in a 4-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until cranberries have burst and are very soft and liquid is slightly syrupy, about 30 minutes. Pour syrup through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, gently stirring cranberries but not pressing on them, then discard berries (or, you can keep them and serve on a cheese platter for a little flair). Chill syrup, uncovered, until cold, at least 3 1/2 hours. Just before serving, stir together vodka and syrup in a pitcher. Serve over ice in 6- to 8-ounce glasses. Use fresh rosemary sprigs for garnish and voilà, you’ve made a pretty party pleaser.