Homemade cranberry liqueur, fresh from the bogs of New Jersey. Or Massachusetts. Or wherever the hell those cranberry bogs are.
“Bog.” It’s a funny word. Say it a few hundred times and it sounds even funnier.
It is a word with multiple meanings. Webster’s (their Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, which, given its copyright date of 1967, is hardly “new” at this point) defines it as “wet, spongy ground, especially a poorly drained usually acid area rich in plant residues, frequently surrounding a body of open water and having a characteristic flora.” It’s another word for a swamp, quagmire, bayou, or marsh, fen, or wetland.
To a Brit, a bog is a toilet... which, I suppose, says something about the toilets in Old Blighty.
And who lives in the bog? Why, the Boggy-Man, of course.
The Boggy-Man, contrary to popular belief, does not subsist on a diet of lost children. He is, rather, a fruitarian: Blueberries, cranberries, cloudberries, huckleberries and lingonberries all grow wild in bogs. Only those enterprising souls who are willing to confront the Boggy-Man will harvest those tasty morsels... but the rewards are abundantly delicious.
The cranberry is a Bog-Fruit with which most of us are familiar, and one that is especially popular this time of year. And so, when I saw this recipe for Do-It-Yourself Cranberry Liqueur, I knew I would have to give it a try.
When the Missus and I were in Texas the week of Thanksgiving, I convinced my BIL Aaron that making our own cranberry liqueur would be a worthwhile project, what with it being Thanksgiving and all. It certainly was easy enough: all you do is simmer cranberries and orange zest in sugar and water, then add vodka and let things macerate happily for a few days. Strain out the solids and - easy-peasy - you're good to go.
The results were quite pleasing. We made a double recipe of the stuff, and barely a few drams survived the holiday.
But when I tried it at home, I learned that it ain’t all that simple.
You want to let those cranberries cook for about 10-15 minutes, enough so that they start to break down. And you want to help them along with a fork, mashing them up just a little. What you do not want to do is purée those bad boys with an immersion blender until they’re liquified - if you do, you’ll never be able to separate the tasty liqueur from the fruit solids. I learned this the hard way when I discovered that it was completely impossible to filter the jellylike glop I had created.
Back to the drawing board.
Happily, the next attempt was eminently successful. The results are pictured above, and I will tell you that that stuff is every bit as tasty as it looks.
I do not drink Cosmopolitans, but I’d be willing to bet that you could make a really good one by using this liqueur in lieu of the typical bottled cranberry juice. Even the Boggy-Man would agree!