OK, every year for the last several years, my spouse and I have rung in the new year with our dear friends, M and D. About 3 years ago we started including another couple, B and R. The six of us have season tickets to a local theater company, and always attend a Sunday matinee together then head out for a dinner somewhere afterward.
So the six of us do this collaborative 5-course dinner for New Years Eve. This year I am responsible for the cocktail, the soup course and the seafood course.
The cocktail always poses a quandary, these dinners are an endurance event, wine with each course so you can't get too liquored up during appetizers or you won't be able to enjoy the rest of dinner! Let's just say, it's happened. SO. I want to make something in the Cosmo-family of cocktails but not quite so boozy as a Cosmo - which are usually mixed with mostly vodka and cranberry juice dribbled in for color.
I thought I would make a sweet clear cocktail using Citrus infused Vodka (I used Burnett's, which is a middle shelf brand), DeKuyper's Triple Sec, and WHITE Cranberry juice (which is mostly white grape juice when you read the label)
We have had an unusual resident in our yard this fall and winter. He/She is a White Squirrel! Have you ever seen one? He doesn't seem to be albino, because he's got black eyes and a black snout. He's been hanging out here since late fall. He's a beautiful squirrel, we call him Whitey - being really creative people as we are, so this cocktail is in his honor.
I tried this first without lemon juice because I wanted a totally clear cocktail, but it was too sweet. So I added the lemon juice to cut through the sweetness, and it works! The lemon juice makes it slightly cloudy, but the taste is there, so that's the main thing.
THE WHITE SQUIRREL
2 oz Citrus Infused Vodka (Burnett's Citrus)
1 1/2 oz White Cranberry Juice
3/4 oz Triple Sec
1/2 oz Thyme Simple Syrup*
1/4 oz lemon juice
Place all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker and fill with ice, shake, pour into a martini glass or coupe. Garnish with a sprig of thyme.
*Recipe for Thyme Simple Syrup
In a small saucepan, bring to a boil and dissolve:
1 cup white sugar
1 cup water
When it comes to a boil and the sugar has dissolved, remove from heat, add 6 to 8 sprigs of thyme and steep for about 8 to 10 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer, and cool. Use in whatever you want. It's great in iced tea, lemonade and sparkling water! It keeps in the fridge indefinitely.