The first liqueur I ever tried was Cointreau, and that rich orange taste was so delicious that for several years afterwards I never ordered any other after-dinner drink. Who knew what I was missing? I’ve discovered other liqueurs since, but that deep and boozy citrus taste has remained with me. It’s still my go-to liqueur.
So I was interested to hear about Cranes Cranberry Orange Liqueur, for this and other reasons. The company’s based in Cambridge, not far from where I live, and the history’s interesting.
Cranes was founded by twin brothers Ben and Dan Ritsema. Like several other drinks companies I know of, the whole idea began when they were students. They liked a drink, as students do, but they were also health-conscious and wondered if there were any drinks they could enjoy which didn’t also contain a lot of sugar.
The brothers like drinking cranberry juice for its health benefits, and one day wondered: ‘What if you brewed cranberries?’ The result was the founding of Cranes, named for the fact that when they were first discovered in the USA in the 17th century, cranberries were called craneberries because the small, pink blossoms on the plant were thought to resemble the head and bill of the Sandhill crane.
The twins produced several variations of cranberry cider, such as one with cranberry and limes and another with raspberries and pomegranates. The cranberries come from Wisconsin, one of the best places in the USA where they are grown.
Not satisfied with this, the brothers then wondered what else they could do with these cranberries. How about a liqueur? Combining cranberries with blood orange juice and orange rind, they’ve come up with a liqueur that in addition to having the most beautifully rich colour, comes in an attractive gift box. My wife and I both said ‘Wow!’ when we opened it. What a present for someone. In this case, us!The liqueur comes in a handsome solid and chunky square bottle, the kind that it’s a pleasure to hold and to pour from, and which looks impressive on the shelves. However, drink is for drinking not keeping on the shelves, so we poured a couple of glasses. The colour is a lovely deep red, from that blood orange juice, and the scent combines the sweetness of citrus with the tang of cranberries, and the result is a message that definitely says ‘Drink me now!’ So we did.
That sweet and sharp combination is there on the palate, too. It’s only 20% ABV, so more like a sherry than a Cointreau. That was my one reservation, although it probably says more about me than it does about the drink. I’d have preferred it stronger and more intense, like a Cointreau at 40%. Then again, my wife appreciated the lighter taste.
It’s very more-ish, a bit like a boozy fruit juice although that phrase doesn’t do it justice. It’s more subtle than that, and well-balanced. Besides, at only 20% you’ll feel justified in having another. We certainly did!
This Cranberry Orange Liqueur also makes great – and mostly simple-to-make – cocktails. Here are a few suggestions that Cranes of Cambridge has put together.
Cranes Cranberry Orange Liqueur Cocktails
20ml Cranes Liqueur
25ml Cranes Liqueur
20ml Cranberry juice
Squeeze 1/4 lime
35ml Cranes liqueur
150ml Sicilian lemonade
45ml Cranes liqueur
30ml Espresso coffee
15ml Coffee liqueur
If you live in the UK you can buy this Cranes liqueur on Amazon: