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January 3, 2014

Grazing: Blood Orange-Cranberry-Lemongrass Mocktail

Alas, the time for copious holiday drinking has passed. Cleansing teas, fresh juices and water have taken the place of bracing Manhattans and boozy egg nog — at least for the first few resolution-rich days of the new year. 

Yet staying healthy doesn't have to be boring. Mocktails, or alcohol-free cocktails, are refreshing, easy to make and user-friendly for drinkers, pregnant women and 12-steppers alike. 

This week I repurposed some leftover holiday cranberries to make a cranberry-lemongrass simple syrup, then blended it with fresh-squeezed blood orange juice and sparkling water for a juicy, tart-sweet, non-alcoholic tippler. Yeah, it has some sugar — but I needed to come down from the holidays easy. Recipe below.

Blood Orange-Cranberry-Lemongrass Mocktail

1 tablespoon cranberry-lemongrass simple syrup*
2 ounces fresh-squeezed blood orange juice
Sparkling water

Add ice to a glass, then pour in simple syrup and blood orange juice. (I use a vintage glass juice presser.) Top with sparkling water, garnish if desired, and serve.

*Cranberry-Lemongrass Simple Syrup

1/2 cup granulated sugar
Handful of fresh cranberries
One 5-inch sprig of lemongrass, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup water

Combine sugar and cranberries in a saucepan, and press down with a pestle to slightly crush the fruit into the sugar. Add lemongrass and water and place over medium-low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cook for two minutes, then remove from heat and let cool for 15 minutes. Strain liquid through a cheesecloth-lined strainer into a Mason jar, pressing down on solids to extract juices. Syrup will keep for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.

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