Don’t you love the lead-up to Christmas? Soon it’ll be time to put up the tree, haul out the Christmas albums and play swing ball on the lawn (yep, folks, it’s summer down here in Kiwi-land). And let’s not forget the traditional festive treats we all love to eat…
Having Christmas in summer means that our style of eating is rather different from the Northern Hemisphere’s. While it’s not uncommon to have a hot roast meal on the day, we generally go for summer dishes – salads, cold-cuts, ice cream, pavlovas, trifles, etc. A barbeque, particularly on a sunny day, is a favourite choice.
So I thought it would be fun to add a cocktail to our menu this Christmas and looked for one where I could use up the last of my stash of pomegranates. I discovered this lovely recipe on NZ House & Garden.co.nz which combined pomegranate and rosewater with champagne or, strictly speaking, sparkling wine. The wine I used was New Zealand’s favourite sparkling – Lindauer Brut Cuvee. It has quite a sharp, dry taste which I thought balanced the sweet pomegranate syrup rather nicely.
I did also try the syrup with another of New Zealand’s favourite drinks Ch’i. Ch’i is a staple in my fridge – it’s a refreshing sparkling mineral water with ginseng and other herbs and its non-sugar variety (the one I use) is sweetened with stevia. As you can imagine, the mix of Ch’i and pomegranate syrup is sweeter on the palate and would suit those who prefer a non-alcoholic or sweeter cocktail (great for the kids).
One little adjustment I made to the recipe was creating ice cubes with the pomegranate seeds rather than just floating them on top of the drink. When the ice cubes melt, the seeds start floating anyway (plus a bit more juice is released), which is kind of fun. Mind you, I had to tell people what to do with them, as pomegranates are such a rarity in New Zealand (at least where I live), that not many people have ever seen them (Lol).
POMEGRANATE & ROSEWATER CHAMPAGNE COCKTAIL
- 2 cups pomegranate juice (store-bought or made*)
- 1/4 cup caster sugar or to taste (depending on how tart the juice is)
- 1 strip orange peel, no pith, or 2 Tbsp fresh orange juice
- 2 tsp rosewater
- 1 bottle sparkling wine, chilled (or use a non-alcoholic alternative)
- Garnish: 2 tbsp pomegranate seeds
- Make the garnish: Divide the 2 tablespoons of pomegranate seeds between ice tray (mine had 14 holes), cover with water and freeze.
- Make syrup base: Divide pomegranate juice, caster sugar and orange peel (or juice) in a small saucepan and on moderate heat simmer for 5-10 minutes until reduced by half and slightly syrupy.
- Take off heat and discard orange peel (if using). Add rosewater and allow to cool. Chill until needed.
- To serve, toss 2-3 ice cubes into each glass, add 2-3 tablespoons of pomegranate syrup, and top up with chilled bubbles.
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