I've been playing around with infusing different flavors into vodka and other alcohols. When I saw cranberries, I knew I had to make a cranberry infusion. It's so seasonal.
Up until now, I've been making liqueurs that are rather sweet. Not tooth-aching sweet, but on the dessert side.
This one is a little on the tart side. For one thing, there isn't as much sugar. And for another, cranberries are tart.
This is a more refreshing drink, and would be great over ice or with some fizzy soda. If you're looking for a sweet concoction, just add more sugar, either to the finished infusion, or add sugar, honey, or simple syrup when you make your drinks.
This gets better as it ages, so if you've got the time, you can leave it sit for a month before you strain it. If you're in a hurry, two weeks is good. If you can't wait, you can strain some off after a week and see what you think.
You'll need a fairly large jar to fit all these ingredients, and it should have a tight-fitting lid. I found these sweet 2-liter jars at Whole Foods.
Infused Booze: Cranberries and Cloves
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 12-ounce packages fresh cranberries
4 cups vodka
Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir as needed until the sugar dissolves. Add the cranberries and cloves. Cook, stirring as needed, until most of the cranberries have popped open. You don't need to cook them to mush, and they don't have to all be popped - just the majority of them.
Turn off the heat, let the mixture cool until it's cool enough to handle safely, then transfer it to a clean jar. Add the vodka, cover tightly, and shake it up a bit.
Leave the jar in a cool, dark(ish) place, and shake it every once in a while. I leave mine on my kitchen countertop, in a non-sunlit corner, and I shake it a couple times a day. Once a day is plenty, though.
After 2-4 weeks (you can taste it as it progresses) strain out the cranberries and transfer the liquid to a bottle for storage. If you want a very clear liquid, you can strain it through a coffee filter before bottling.
There's probably something interesting you can do with the cranberries, but keep in mind that they will have absorbed some alcohol - so don't serve whatever it is to the kids.