I was pretty darn close to just making up an eggnog. I love eggnog so much, I would drink that pancake batter-like liquid for the entirety of the season, alcohol or not. In the end I felt maybe it was too heavy, and maybe I am trying to make better health choices, and maybe you should, too. I went with something more cranberry-based, with gin and rosemary because rosemary is green and looks like pine needles, which is wintery, is it not?
I will fess up to the fact that I had help with this cocktail. Usually I use my own booze and buy my own ingredients, but when I have a chance to experiment with other people’s booze, I take advantage of that opportunity, because this is America. So I called in the big guns. Alexandra Kearney, bar manager at Crooners & Cocktails in Portland, took my recipe and made my cocktail. Alex did the heavy lifting and shaking and pouring while Katie Brunelle, brand representative for Maine Craft Distilling, which is also located in Portland, came by with several (actually, all) of their spirits for me to consider. I have a very hard life.
It was the middle of the day, and I was being more responsible than fun, so I only sampled a couple of Katie’s offerings to figure out which one would best work in my creation. We settled on the barrel-rested Sprigge gin, which has that something extra that works incredibly well in this cocktail.
I was nervous about having a professional make my recipe. (What if Alex hates it? What if she hates me? What if I have to walk home in shame and cry myself to sleep again?) Thankfully, the cocktail met Alex’s approval with one exception: She added some of her homemade vanilla bitters (made with vanilla bean, green peppercorn and maple syrup). And now it is perfect.
Make it at home to keep you company this winter. And if you’d rather drink among others, Crooners and Cocktails will be featuring this cocktail on its new menu. Be sure to taste the candied ginger garnish if Alex hasn’t eaten them all by then.
3 slices fresh ginger
A sprig of rosemary
1/2 pint simple syrup
Add to shaker:
2 pints Maine Craft Distilling Sprigge Gin
1 pint cranberry juice
Homemade Vanilla Bitters (Woodford Reserve Spiced Cherry Bitters works well as a replacement)
Shake, strain into champagne coupe.
Top off with Capt’n Eli’s Ginger Beer.
Garnish with a sprig of rosemary and a slice of candied ginger.
Jessie Lacey moved to Portland from Bangor 10 years with her dog/BFF Twobit the border collie, and currently lives downtown with her boyfriend. She spends whatever free time she has making dresses, cocktails, art and trouble.