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Cranberry Sauce for Grown Ups

IMG_1304Most people probably see cranberry sauce as a simple condement. And for such a simple condement, why should you spend a lot of time making it from scratch, when you can buy it for $2 a can? Why, you ask? Because the real thing is worlds better than anything you can get out of the can.

While I always liked cranberry sauce, I never felt like I could be bothered with the extra effort. The turkey, quite franky, was much more important and more worthy of my effort than some simple cranberry sauce. Boy was I wrong.

Last year at Thanksgiving, I made fresh cranberry sauce for the first time and I couldn't believe the difference. It was a simple recipe, with just cranberries, water, sugar, and a little orange rind. But it make such a big difference in our meal that I vowed never to eat cranberry sauce out of the can again.

This year, I decided to take the cranberry sauce to another level. We're having some friends over for Thankgiving this year and one of them is a big bourbon fan. So to kick up the cranberry sauce, I decided to use bourbon in the recipe. There isn't much guidance out there about adding Bourbon to cranberry sauce, but I did find a recipe on Epicurious about Cosmopolitan Cranberry Sauce

This gave me an idea, maybe I can use a bourbon drink recipe as inspiration my cranberry sauce. So I looked for good bourbon and cranberry drink recipes until I came across this blog post about reinventing the Bardstown Sling (which I had never had before). 

IMG_1325I improvised the recipe a little. I started with a basic cranberry sauce recipe and added any alcohol after the cooking cranberry sauce and letting it cool. In a short 20 minutes, during which I also made my boys lunch and changed a diaper, I had sweet, homemade cranberry sauce. The brilliant thing about cranberry sauce is you can make a lot of it in a short time and store it in the refrigerator for up to a week. Whatever is leftover, you can freeze and bring out for any meal in the future.

So here is my Cranberry Sauce for Grown Ups recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Bourbon Orange Cranberry Sauce

16 oz. fresh whole cranberries
1/2 cup water 
1 cup sugar (use less if you like you cranberry sauce more on the tart side, you can also use honey or maple sugar)
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp Cointreau
1/4 cup Bourbon

IMG_1312In a medium sauce pan, mix sugar, water, lime juice, and cranberries and bring to a boil. Stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes until the cranberry sauce has your desired texture and thickness.

IMG_1319Remove the sauce from the saucepan and transfer to a mixing bowl until it is cool. (This would be the time to separate out the cranberry sauce for the kids from the adults.) Once cooled, mix in the Cointreau and Bourbon. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.



Doug Ford

What a terrific way to extrapolate the Bardstown Sling. I think today is a good day to try this out, thanks for the idea (and for the link to Cold Glass!)


Quite, franky, my dear, use any alcohol : p

Kim Lin

This is a pretty awesome. Cranberry sauce is a classic dish and for you to add bourbon, that's perfect :-)

- "Hostess" for The MenView


I love the bourbon idea! I've been hooked on a recipe for mulled cranberries & cherries. Simmer items for basic cranberry sauce + red wine, pitted cherries, orange zest, cloves & cinnamon. Heavenly.

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