I have a confession to make: there was a brief period of time in my early 20’s when I lied and told everyone I met that I was from Rhode Island. I had recently quit my job, moved to Brooklyn, dyed my hair just shy of black, and gone back to school to become a Serious Writer. Rhode Island, while not exactly exotic, was at least a little bit quirkier and more interesting then where I am actually from: Massachusetts. The suburb where we grew up was close enough to the Rhode Island boarder that my brother and I went to a private high school in Providence. (To this day, he maintains that the drives back and forth on I-95 in the months after I got my license rank among the most harrowing experiences of his life.) At any rate, I figured that was close enough. It was just a little fib.
But lately I’ve felt bad about it. Not for lying, exactly, but for being embarrassed of my Massachusetts roots. The truth is, though I loathe the term, I’m a card-carrying Masshole. The street I grew up on was just past a rotary, and you could hear the roar of the Patriots’ stadium through the woods in our backyard. I ate Hoodsies and drank frappes, and most of my birthday parties featured Papa Gino’s pizza. I love the Red Sox, those Friendly’s watermelon ice cream cakes, and I will take a Dunkin’ Donuts French Vanilla coffee over an artisanal roast any day of the week. So there you have it.
I also have a special place in my heart for a traditional Massachusetts beverage: the raspberry lime rickey, an exceeding sweet, bright red fountain soda. If I had to choose a last meal on Earth, it just might be a grilled cheese sandwich, a raspberry lime rickey, and a chocolate-vanilla soft serve twist for dessert from the Bubbling Brook in Westwood.
While I would never claim to have bested the classic, I have to say that this recipe for Cranberry Lime Rickeys is
wicked pretty damn good. I simmered some fresh cranberries with sugar and water and strained it to make a syrup. Then I added a whole cup of freshly squeezed lime juice, plus some water to mellow it out. To make each drink, you just pour some of the cranberry-lime mixture into a glass and top with club soda.
Dare I say it’s the perfect Thanksgiving drink? You can customize it for everyone. Use club soda or ginger ale for the kiddos and non-drinkers, and sparkling wine (the cheap stuff is totally fine) for the adult imbibers. You could also do a vodka-club soda mix, if you want to hit the hard stuff.
You can make the base for this up to a week in advance. Taste and if it’s too tart for you, add up to 1/4 cup simple syrup (simmer equal parts sugar and water). Store it in a pitcher in the fridge.
Cranberry Lime Rickeys
Makes approximately 7 cups of base, which is about 10-14 servings when mixed
For the cranberry-lime base:
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup granulated sugar
5 cups water
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
For serving (choose any of the following):
Combine the cranberries, sugar, and 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan. Simmer over medium-high heat until the cranberries are completely soft and beginning to break down, 10 to 15 minutes. Strain the mixture into a pitcher and discard the solids. Add the lime juice and remaining 3 cups of water. Refrigerate until well chilled.
To serve, pour some of the base into a glass with ice and top with club soda, ginger ale, or sparkling wine. Or, add 1 ounce of vodka and top off with club soda.