When Carla Hall served a non-alcoholic Cranberry-Ginger Spritzer on the fifth season of Top Chef, the judges initially sneered. It seemed a bit tame for the occasion: a masquerade party hosted by the Krewe of Orpheus at the New Orleans Museum of Art. Carla’s zippy concoction turned out to be a good move, though; even guest judge Emeril Lagasse—who isn’t known for his moderation—loved it. The recipe appears in Top Chef: The Quickfire Cookbook (Chronicle, Sept.), alongside stiffer libations like mojitos and hurricanes. I’m with Emeril: this one’s a winner. While the combination of cranberry and seltzer are common, adding ginger, brown sugar and lime give this drink much more interest—and flavor.
Carla’s Cranberry-Ginger Spritzer
2 tablespoons sugar for rimming
1 cup cranberry juice
1 cup water
Grated zest and juice of 1 lime, plus 4 lime slices for garnish
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices
1 tablespoon brown sugar
12 ounces lime soda
Pour the sugar onto a small plate. Moisten the rim of 4 tall glasses. Dip each glass into the sugar to rim.
In a small pitcher, combine the cranberry juice, water, lime zest and juice, ginger, and brown sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Fill the glasses with ice. Strain the cranberry mixture into the glasses, filling each three-quarters full and topping with lime soda. Garnish with a lime slice.
This story originally appeared in Cooking the Books, PW's e-newsletter for cookbooks.