RECIPE

How to make a Cranberry Mojito, the perfect compliment to any Thanksgiving feast

Ask the Oracle: What should I serve for this celebration of gratitude? All signs point to a Cranberry Mojito

By Erin Keane

Published November 24, 2021 6:15PM (EST)

Oracle Pour: Cranberry Mojito (Illustration by Ilana Lidagoster/Salon)
Oracle Pour: Cranberry Mojito (Illustration by Ilana Lidagoster/Salon)

"The Oracle Pour" is Salon Food's spirits column that helps you decide what to drink tonight.

Gratitude used to be a feeling we either experienced or did not. Now it has been turned into a practice, an intentional cataloging of moments summoned for reflection. For the most part, that's good! Who wouldn't want to cultivate a habit of dwelling on the times we see our lives enriched, even in tiny ways, by other people, the natural world or even ourselves? Practicing gratitude can have all kinds of benefits — better mental health, better relationships, and quite importantly, an increase in joy. 

But any practice taken too far can also bring obligations — to maintain lists, to carve out time for specific journaling exercises, to perhaps spend more time crafting gratitude-focused experiences than leaving space for those spontaneous moments we're so often grateful for in hindsight. In that way, Thanksgiving dinner can be the ultimate gratitude exercise — and if we're not careful, we can end up pouring all of our energy into a showstopper of a meal to show how thankful we are for the good things and people in our lives, leaving us exhausted, testy and in no mood for serene reflection. If that sounds familiar, maybe consider a pre-gratitude journaling exercise: Ask yourself what, at the end of the holiday, would you most want to be grateful for? And then do that, if you can. 

If you're hosting this year, consider a signature cocktail rather than taking individual requests for all drink orders more complex than "IPA or stout?" This should give you more time to spend with your guests rather than tied down behind the bar hunting for the right mixers when you could be playing a video game with your nieces or hearing about your sibling's new job. 


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A signature holiday pre-dinner cocktail follows an intuitive formula of simplicity plus vibes divided by how many you expect to make throughout the course of the event. Your drink of choice needs to be light enough so it doesn't weigh you down before the first course or linger too long on the palate, disrupting wine and food pairings. It should also be a crowd-pleaser — familiar enough that you're not stuck explaining the drink's ingredients all night, while also being festive enough to feel like the right choice for a special occasion. For Thanksgiving, consider the cranberry mojito — seasonal, easy to make, and yet with the addition of garnish skewers, definitely festive. 

The folks at Ron Diplomático recently sent me their recipe for a cranberry mojito featuring their white rum Diplomático Planas, and everything just clicked upon reading it. Here's a drink that's fun without being fussy, offering a widely-embraced blend of sweet and tart flavors without the bitter profile that can be divisive (though I personally love a Boulevardier at Thanksgiving). And it even has a name everyone can recognize — including your aunt who rarely drinks but can be talked into a frivolous umbrella-type drink if the spirit moves her. 

The mojito is a Cuban classic, with the legendary bar La Bodeguita del Medio serving as "Havana's mojito mecca," writes Wayne Curtis in his indispensable history, "And a Bottle of Rum," since the early 1950s. In Old Havana, they say, La Bodeguita is to the mojito as La Floridita is to Hemingway's beloved daiquiri. Adding cranberry juice to the drink is decidedly non-standard, of course. A pure mojito is a simple yet satisfying combo of rum, lime juice, simple syrup, soda and mint – both muddled at the bottom of the glass and garnished extravagantly by the overgrown sprig. But it's not moving the dial so far afield that it renders the drink unrecognizable.

RELATED: How to make a classic daiquiri — all you need are three simple ingredients

You need fresh mint, which can be tricky in late fall in climates north of the mojito's origins. Consider keeping a plant of your own inside if, like me, you get outraged over paying retail mark-ups for fresh herbs when they grow like weeds in the wild. You don't even need a fancy Aerogarden — mint can flourish for a month or so without even being planted. Just keep the roots in a jar of water with plenty of sunlight and trim as you go. But those sad little grocery store clamshells will also do. You're going to muddle most of it at the bottom of a shaker, anyway.

Here's my version of a cranberry mojito, adapted from the Diplomático recipe. I added back in some soda water to make this a tall drink, because I like my mojitos with their signature fizz — and it helps to nurse this one for a while.


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Thanksgiving Cranberry Mojito 

Ingredients:

Serving size: one beverage

  • 2 oz. Diplomático Planas rum, or any white rum you prefer
  • 1.5 oz. cranberry juice
  • 1 oz. fresh lime juice (one large lime's worth)
  • 1/2 oz. agave nectar
  • 10 mint leaves
  • Club soda to top
  • Bitters
  • Fresh cranberries, mint, lime for garnish
  • Ice for shaking and serving

Gear:

You don't need any specialty equipment to mix a simple cocktail. Improvise with what you have. But here's what I keep at hand:

Directions: 

Muddle the mint with lime juice, agave and rum in a shaker. Fill with ice and shake for at least 15 seconds. I like to double-strain mojitos — straining once into a holding glass, then using a fine mesh strainer to strain a second time over ice in the highball glass — so the bits of lime pulp and mint don't cloud my drink. (But if those are the parts you love, just strain out the ice!)  Add add cranberry juice and bitters and stir, then top with club soda. Garnish with a skewer of fresh cranberries, lime wedge and mint. 

Variations:

Pomegranate juice is a great swap for cranberry. Of course, there's always the standard mojito, if the holiday vibes you're seeking are more of the beach vacation kind: double the nectar or simple syrup, skip all the berries, close your eyes and pretend it's summer again. 

More Oracle Pour cocktails made with rum:  

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Erin Keane

Erin Keane is Salon's Editor in Chief.

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Cocktails Holidays Mojito Oracle Pour Recipe Rum Thanksgiving