Finally – the weather has turned cooler. Most of the year I hear from folks about how much they envy our Northern California climate, but I have to admit that as a New England native, I miss the distinct change of seasons – especially in the fall. At this time of year we’re supposed to be pulling on our fleece and socks, not slipping into sandals and t-shirts. It might still be a too warm for wool right now, but I can at least make this drink. And you should too, especially if you are lucky enough to be enjoying a nippy November.
This Cranberry Tequila Toddy is my latest recipe in the November issue of Marin Magazine. It takes inspiration from the margarita and warms it up with autumnal ingredients such as cranberry and cider. Part cocktail, part toddy, all good.
Cranberry Tequila Toddy
Makes about 6 cups.
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup Cointreau
4 cups apple cider
1 cup cranberry juice cocktail
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup gold tequila
6 cinnamon sticks
Combine the cranberries and cointreau in a small bowl. Let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
Heat the cider, cranberry juice, and orange juice in a saucepan until very hot without letting it come to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the tequila, cranberries, and Cointreau. Serve warm with a squeeze of lime. Garnish with the orange slices and a cinnamon stick for stirring.
We are spoiled with nature in Northern California, but one thing missing in our garden landscape is elderflowers. Elderberry bushes are prolific in North America and Europe, growing in gardens and the wild. The ripe berries are often used to make wine and marmalade. But, in my opinion, the best part are the flowers which peak in the early summer weeks. The blossoms can be harvested and left to macerate with sugar and lemon for several days to make a syrup which imparts a soft floral and honeyed flavor to drinks and desserts. Dilute a few spoons of the syrup with water for a soft drink, or with champagne or wine for a cordial. The flowers may also be dipped in a light batter and fried, serving as a light dessert.
When we lived in Denmark, elderberry bushes were everywhere. They grew in our garden and along the paths we walked into town. In June, after a welcome warm spell, we picked baskets of elderflowers and made the concentrated syrup that we would enjoy throughout the season. So, naturally, when we return to Denmark on visits, if the timing is right we continue the tradition of making elderflower syrup.
Elderflower Syrup Makes 2 quarts
40 elderflower sprigs
4 untreated lemons with skin, cut in slices
4 pounds granulated sugar
3 ounces food grade citric acid
2 quarts boiling water
Thoroughly rinse the elderflower sprigs. Place in a large pot with a lid. Add lemon slices. Add sugar and citric acid. Pour water over elderflowers. Stir to ensure the sugar dissolves. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 4-5 days. Strain syrup through a fine meshed sieve or cheese cloth. Pour into sterilized bottles. Refrigerate until use. (Syrup may also be frozen in ice cube trays.)
To serve, mix a small amount of syrup with water, white wine or champagne to taste.