We make big batches of this every year and give as some as gifts. But most of it goes towards making affordable sparkling wine into delicious cranberry kir royales, with the cranberry liqueur taking the place of traditional crème de cassis, at whatever holiday festivities we manage to pull together at our house. This has led to this concoction being called crème de cranberry by some. Of course, the real French would be crème de canneberge, but, somehow, that's less funny to my ear.
Note that the wine in this recipe gets cooked. No need for anything fancy. You want something you could drink (i.e. no "cooking wine"), but nothing more. Also, I like to use a decent-but-not-fancy brandy at the end for the added flavor notes, but plain vodka works just fine, especially if you're going to use the final liqueur to mix in cocktails.
- 16 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1 bottle (750 ml) red wine
- 3 cups sugar
- 1 cup brandy or other distilled liquor
- Rinse and pick over the cranberries, discarding any shriveled berries or ones that just look icky.
- Combine the wine and sugar in a medium pot and bring the mixture just to a boil, stirring as necessary to dissolve the sugar completely. Add the cranberries and reduce the heat to medium low. Cook just until a cranberry or two pops, which should take about 2 minutes. If none are popping open, increase the heat a bit until one does.
- Remove the pot from the heat, cover, and let sit until it's cooled off completely, which will take a few hours. Feel free to let it sit overnight, if you like.
- Strain the mixture through a fine sieve or several layers of cheesecloth into a large bowl. Add the brandy or other liquor. Transfer the mixture to a clean, sealable bottle or other container(s). Seal or cover and let sit at room temperature for at least three days before serving.
The liqueur will keep a good long time at room temperature – it's sugar and booze, both of which are excellent natural preservatives. Feel free to keep it in the fridge, though, if storing it at room temperature makes you nervous (or you have more space in your fridge than in your cupboard). I make big batches every late November or early December and have kept a few bottles both in the back of the fridge and on a shelf in the closet. Bottles stored in both places have been known to last perfectly well for over a year.