Do-it-yourself drinks plateau to a tantalizing new level for the palate in this month’s Cocktails We Crave, which features a fabulous homemade Cranberry Liqueur recipe from our friends at Big Mill Bed & Breakfast in Williamston, NC. Innkeeper Chloe G. Tuttle concocted this decadent beverage because necessity is the mother of invention. “I just love cranberries and was sad that I never could find a cranberry liqueur so I just made one,” says Chloe, “and the cranberries that you drain off the liquor are even better than the liqueur.” Now that sounds pretty enticing to us!

Ingredients:
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
2 cups cranberries, washed and coarsely chopped
1 Tablespoon grated lemon rind
1 Tablespoon frozen orange juice concentrate
2 cups vodka (if you prefer a stronger alcoholic mixture, substitute some of the water with vodka)

Directions:
Combine water and sugar in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer sugar syrup for five minutes, making sure the sugar is completely dissolved. Stir in the cranberries, lemon rind and orange juice concentrate. Remove syrup mixture from heat and cool enough so that you can safely pour the mixture into a blender. Use the chop setting, making sure that the berries are just barely chopped. Allow the mixture to cool. Add vodka and stir.

Pour into a large glass jar, cover and store in a cool, dark place for three weeks, stirring every so often. If you make this during the winter you can store in a cool place in the house. If you make the liqueur in the warm weather, store in the refrigerator. After steeping for three weeks, strain the mixture several times using a mesh strainer or cheesecloth until the mixture comes out clear. Pour into glass jars, cover and store liqueur and pulp in the refrigerator. Reserve the pulp for other great things!

Yield: 2 ½ to 3 cups liqueur

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