Holiday Cocktail: Cranberry Sparkler 5 Ways

by Tokyo Terrace on December 3, 2010

Weather greatly impacts my mood, especially here in Tokyo. And I know I talk about weather a lot. Mostly in the past two months, anyway. It fascinates me how much different the course of a year can feel when it isn’t what I’m used to. This is the third fall/winter that I have spent here in Tokyo and there is just no way to describe it aside from frustratingly unsettling. I’m not saying that there aren’t things I don’t appreciate- the warm, sunshine-filled afternoons, the seemingly endless autumn full of brightly colored leaves, and the beautiful Japanese New Year decorations that appear in stores around this time. There is just nothing like it. But it doesn’t mean it doesn’t feel strange to this Minnesota-girl.

Today it stormed with a vengeance in Tokyo. The sky was an odd shade of green, the rain poured heavily throughout the night and into the morning, and thunder boomed along with my shrieking alarm clock. As a result, I decided the bicycle would be a bad idea. Instead, I attempted to walk to school. Fortunately, I was passed by some co-workers who were willing to give me a ride (whew!) which was a great relief on such a gloomy Friday morning. This afternoon, I was able to walk home while listening to some of my favorite music, all the while drinking in the glory of Friday afternoon. The official beginning of the weekend.

I notice a lot of things when I walk rather than cycle everywhere. It helps me remember to soak everything in. Today was no exception. As some of you may know, the Japanese are very tidy when it comes to leaves and other natural yet unsightly clutter outdoors. There are always men and women outside sweeping up piles of dead and dried leaves with tiny dust pans and brooms. With the storms this morning, this job was too big for even the most diligent leaf-sweeper. The sidewalks and streets were covered in a blanket of bright yellow leaves all day. On my walk home, this hit me because I realized I could smell the leaves. That dry, earthy scent that signifies the end of one season and the beginning of  another is something I rarely experience here. The leaves hardly have time to find a cozy spot on the concrete before being swept up and tossed into a plastic garbage bag. That was my discovery today.

Last weekend, I discovered something else: the easiest and most festive cocktail that is versatile and gorgeous! Long story short, cranberry juice + champagne/prosecco + pretty much anything = perfection. Bubbly, tasty, holiday-party-worthy perfection. I love the beautiful color and earthy addition of herbs to the cocktail. Citrus is a perfect addition as well. But the most festive is version with ginger simple syrup and a cinnamon stick (perfect stir stick!) for the holidays.

Here were the 5 variations I came up with. I’d love to hear your ideas in your comments!

1. Cranberry-Yuzu Sparkler

2. Cranberry-Rosemary Sparkler

3. Cranberry-Thyme Sparkler

4. Cranberry-Lemon Sparkler

5. Cranberry-Ginger & Cinnamon Sparkler

If you’re hosting a holiday gathering this season, consider putting this on the menu as a quick, gorgeous way to toast to the season. Cheers!

Cranberry Sparkler

Combine equal parts cranberry juice and prosecco or champagne.

Pour into tall shot glasses or champagne flutes. Add desired flavorings (about 1/2 teaspoon simple syrups (recipes below) and 1 tablespoon citrus juice per drink) and serve garnished with 1 or 2 cranberries (they float beautifully on top of the bubbly!) and other ingredients included in the cocktail. See photos for ideas.

Rosemary Simple Syrup
Makes about 1/3 cup

1/3 cup honey/sugar
1/3 cup water
1 sprig of rosemary, leaves roughly chopped

Combine the water, sugar/honey and rosemary in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer. Simmer until the liquid thickens and reduces slightly. Remove from the heat. Strain the simple syrup to remove the rosemary leaves (this is optional based on your preference- if you don’t mind the leaves, go ahead and leave them).

Lemon-Thyme Simple Syrup

2 teaspoons lemon-thyme, chopped

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup sugar/honey

Combine the water, sugar and thyme in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer. Simmer until the liquid thickens and reduces slightly. Remove from the heat. Strain the simple syrup to remove the thyme leaves (this is optional based on your preference- if you don’t mind the leaves, go ahead and leave them).

Ginger Simple Syrup

Makes 1/3 cup

3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

Peel the ginger and grate using a microplane. In a small, heavy saucepan, add the sugar, water and ginger over medium high heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Allow the syrup to reach a steady simmer, stirring constantly. When the syrup begins to reduce, cook for 1 minute more (use your best judgement- if it seems done, it probably is). The mixture should resemble the consistency of maple syrup.

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  • Christy Barker

    holy cow, your photos are gorgeous!

  • Jenn

    Love this. I’ve had “Poinsettias” before, Prosecco and Cran juice. I love your spin it. I was already planning on bringing Poinsettias to drink on Christmas morning. Now I just have to decide which of your version I’ll be making!

  • http://foodandstyle.com/ Viviane

    Beautiful post, recipes and photos! I love the lemon-thyme syrup… Kudos to you my dear and Cheers!

  • http://www.girlparaphernalia.com New York City Expat

    Wasn’t it storming like something fierce? Being as far South, yet a NYC girl living in Japan.. the clouds looked rather Tornado like.. strange. the weather here is frightfully unsettling.

    Looks like the cold front made it in!

    I think your take on the smores (pastel) is adorable… are you a Nikon or a Cannon user? Do you use a 50 mm?

  • http://www.eatlivetravelwrite.com Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite

    FABULOUS recipes for the holiday season! Gorgeous pics too!

  • http://indochinekitchen.com/ Jun

    Nice… Just what I need… Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.russianseason.net Stanler

    Stunning photos, amazing composition. All holiday cocktails look very inviting.

  • Kori

    Wow, your cocktails look so festive, fun and beautiful! (And sound delicious)! I was searching for some holiday cocktail ideas the other day but like what you came up with much more. Thanks for sharing!

  • Emily Z

    I just came across your blog and so far I love it. I am a Midwestern girl myself. :) Great little cocktails, these are a lot of fun! Nice to meet you, I’ll be back!

  • Cook in a Bar

    Thanks for sharing these fun cocktails! And, congrats on the top 9.

  • Trish

    Your photos are gorgeous. And you’re right, prosecco and cranberry plus anything is perfection. I understand how you feel- I’m an East Coaster who’s used to cold, snowy winters and feel a little displaced in California this time of year.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Christy! I was easily inspired by the beautiful ingredients of this cocktail. Glad you stopped by!

  • Anonymous

    I would definitely recommend the cinnamon stick version- the flavor and smell is just perfect for Christmas. Although, the rosemary version is quite stunning… Let me know which you choose!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks, Viviane! You are so kind! The lemon-thyme syrup has been a favorite at Tokyo Terrace for over a year- the perfect addition to any cocktail.

  • Anonymous

    It was crazy! I’m used to that kind of weather in Minnesota, but not so much here in Japan. The roads were totally flooded in our area- cars couldn’t drive through. And I use a Cannon with a 50mm 1.4f lens. It’s my baby!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Mardi! Sorry again that you are no longer in PFB2010! I was really rooting for you!

  • Anonymous

    You’re welcome! And thanks for stopping by :)

  • Anonymous

    Thank you! I love these glasses for setting up shots like this. They are great and make the composition a bit easier to figure out. Cheers!

  • Anonymous

    I hope you use one (or all) of the Cranberry Sparklers! I’ve had nothing but success with these cocktails this season. Happy Holidays!

  • Anonymous

    Welcome! I’m so happy you found the Terrace and are enjoying it. I can’t wait to see you here again soon!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks! I haven’t been in the top 9 for a while, so that was a real pick-me-up. Thanks for the comment- stop by again soon!

  • Anonymous

    Oh, yes…California would feel strange to me this time of year too. It’s just not the same as a beautifully white winter. Sending wintery thoughts your way :)

  • Kerry

    Thank you. I was searching for the perfect holiday cocktail and I think the Cranberry Rosemary Sparkler is the winner!

  • http://www.girlparaphernalia.com New York City Expat

    YAY.. me too, but I use an Nikkon.. I want to get the 1.2, maybe my Sebastian will get for me for Christmas.. here’s hoping.. I’m trying to locate a nice piece of wood which shows the grain, and pain it white (give it that shabby chic look).. seems like a foodie trend.. I’m going to scour.. my Auntie is from Minnesota… and I just love her accent. Keep warm! = )

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  • http://twitter.com/fujimama Rachael

    Okay, I thought I was homesick reading the Pommes Anna post…but I take it back. THIS POST has me so homesick it hurts. That picture of the sidewalk littered with the fallen ginkgo leaves? I looked forward to that time of year every year. Those leaves are so beautiful! Sigh. Enjoy it for me, okay? XOXO

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  • http://gomboblog.blogspot.com/ Mrsgombojav

    In love with this idea!  Definitely going to do it sometime this holiday season!

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