I love fresh cranberries so much it makes me sad that I can't find them in the stores anytime outside of the holiday season. I'm always sure to buy some up and get them steeping in vodka before it's too late!
Cranberry liqueur can be made from fresh or frozen berries and will keep on the shelf for a very long time. We like to infuse our berries in a sun tea jar (the kind with a spout) to enjoy in mixed drinks throughout the year.
To control the level of sweetness, I like to make my cordial on the tart side, then add simple syrup to taste when serving. Cordial is typically very sweet. This recipe is neither tart nor very sweet. You may add more or less simple syrup to taste. If you don't want to wait months to enjoy your drink, opt to chop your berries before steeping.
Cranberry Vodka Cordial
2 bags fresh cranberries (24 ounces)
5 cups sugar
4 cups water
To make simple syrup: Bring sugar and water nearly to a boil, stirring here and there until the sugar has just disappeared. Cool to nearly room temperature. Combine vodka, cranberries and simple syrup. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for at least a month, preferably several*. The whole berries will soften over time (Getting your hands in there and squishing the berries around to release their juice every so often will help intensify the cranberry flavor). Strain through 2 layers of cheesecloth, squeezing out the liquid from the berries, then bottle up or store in covered jars. Serve very cold from the freezer or over ice, adding additional simple syrup to taste. Or use in a mixed drink with soda water or ginger ale and orange juice.
*For a shorter infusion time, roughly chop the cranberries in a food processor before combining with the liquids. This infusion will be ready in as little as a couple weeks but is also best if left to sit for at least a month.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!