We aren’t really cocktail people, I’ll be honest.
Jay likes vodka mixed with….Le Croix, mostly, which I guess is technically a cocktail, but it’s very rarely that we drink some kind of a specialty mixed drink at home or restaurants. Mainly because they’re complicated (at home) and expensive (out), and we’re lazy and cheap. Full disclosure.
But! That doesn’t mean we aren’t fully into all the holiday-spiced stuff that is available right now – flavorings, combinations, amped up classic cocktails, I know you’ve seen them. We’ve had a few at restaurants that are truly delicious, and I wanted to make a simple version at home to complement a drink setup at a holiday party. I think offering too much liquor is a recipe for disaster (just our friends?), but that having beer + wine + one cocktail at an event is lovely and charming without being too expensive or too much work.
So that’s what we’re doing! A take on a regular Moscow Mule with ginger simple syrup and soda instead of ginger beer. The garnishes are distinctly holiday, but the recipe can be used year round, DUH. The simple syrup takes all of 5 minutes to make, and gets more delicious the longer it hangs out with the spices in the fridge. So, make now, serve at every weekend until January 4, give or take.
The simple syrup is exactly what you’d expect, equal parts sugar + water with fresh ginger and cinnamon sticks. You can make as much of this as you’d like, just let the syrup sit for longer for a stronger ginger flavor if you make this in a large quantity. I used 1/2 cup each raw sugar and water, a 5-inch chunk of ginger cut into big pieces (it feels like a lot but we’re mimicking ginger beer), and 2 cinnamon sticks. Everything goes in a little pan over medium heat until the mixture simmers and the sugar melts. Stir to combine everything, then turn off the heat.
Pour the sugar into a pretty jar for safekeeping. I honestly think this would be fine left out (with a lid on), but I keep mine in the fridge just in case.
Now, onto the drinks! We have our simple syrup, which is the star. The drink is vodka and sparkling water (tonic water if you like a sweet drink), and garnishes are orange slices, more cinnamon sticks, and fresh cranberries.
You can shake vodka with the simple syrup if you’re into that kind of thing, but I just pour simple syrup, vodka, soda, then stir with a cinnamon stick and call it a day.
Boom. The perfect starter for your Thanksgiving dinner, or something to have around all throughout the holidays. I think the syrup would work well with a few other liquors, so make a big batch and play around with it in the name of science.
Happy short work week!
- SPICED SIMPLE SYRUP
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup raw sugar
- 1 large piece ginger (5 inches or so), cut into 1-inch chunks
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- MULES (quantities per drink)
- crushed ice
- 1 1/2 ounces vodka
- 1 ounce spiced simple syrup
- 1/4 cup sparkling water
- sliced oranges
- cinnamon sticks
- fresh cranberries
- Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Stir the mixture. When the syrup just bubbles, turn the heat off and transfer the syrup and spices to a jar to cool. Keep covered in the fridge until ready to use.
- Fill a cocktail glass with crushed ice. Add vodka, simple syrup, and sparkling water or soda. Stir to combine with a cinnamon stick. Taste, and add more vodka or syrup to your preference. Garnish with oranges and fresh cranberries.
- 1. I used raw sugar in these because it's what I had on hand, but any kind of sugar is fine! Raw or brown sugar does yield a slightly deeper flavor, which I like with the ginger.
- 2. The quantities per drink above are approximate and don't yield a very sweet drink. Add more of the simple syrup if you'd like!