I don't like fussy drinks! I like a cocktail that doesn't mess around, meaning STRONG, simple to make, and tastes incredible. I can't have copious amounts of refined sugar and other unknown substances because I'm a Type 1 diabetic, and really--who needs all the junk anyway? So here's a classic cocktail that I've put a holiday spin on. With candied cranberries and sugared rosemary for garnish, it's a delightful and festive kick-off to ring in the holiday spirit!
This recipe is for 2, served in a lowball or Old Fashioned glass. You will need to make a cranberry syrup to mix with the bourbon, as well as the garnish of sugared rosemary and cranberries.
Make the Candied Garnishes
First, to make the sugared rosemary and cranberries; bring 1 cup of water to a boil, then let it cool down to warm to the finger temperature. Then, add 1 cup fresh cranberries and let them set for 2-3 minutes. If the water is too hot, their skins will crack, so be sure to let the water cool down to borderline warm/hot. Once the cranberries have soaked their time, then add a few sprigs of rosemary. Remove the cranberries and rosemary and pat them a bit with a paper towel. Leave them wet enough to pick up sugar. Roll them around in a bowl of granulated sugar to coat, lay on parchment and let them dry.
In a saucepan, mix 1/2 C water, 1 cup fresh cranberries, the juice plus the zest of 1 mandarin orange, juice of 2 lemons, and 3 1/2 T maple syrup. I used Lakanto Sugar-free Maple Syrup. It is a healthy alternative to sugar, and tastes amazing in this cocktail. Bring all this to a boil and let it simmer until cranberries are very soft. Take a wooden spoon and smash them up, remove from heat and let cool down.
And finally....mix it up!
Pour the syrup into a shaker of ice and add 4 oz good bourbon, such as Bulleit. Shake vigorously! Pour over ice into a lowball or old fashioned glass, and garnish with the beautiful and tasty sugared rosemary and cranberries.