2 oz Vodka <Tito’s>
3/4 oz Cranberry Liqueur <Grand Ten Distilling Craneberry>
1/4 oz Pineapple Juice
Shake with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
A few years ago I was at a beach Ultimate Frisbee tournament in Wildwood, NJ. After two days of games in the sand, the whole team went out to dinner. Most of us ordered beers, until one of my teammates shook things up and went with a Sea Breeze. His argument being that he was sick of beer after two+ days of drinking Modelo Especials on the beach and boardwalk. Apparently he made a good point, because almost everybody changed their orders to cocktails (mostly margaritas and G&Ts). Another teammate then ordered a Bay Breeze, and a heated debate ensued.
Having never had either version, I asked what the difference was. Both start with vodka and cranberry. The Sea Breeze adds grapefruit juice while the Bay Breeze goes with pineapple juice. A quick taste test between the two confirmed my assumption that the Bay Breeze is the far superior drink (though my Sea Breeze ordering friend disagrees). Ever since then it has been sort of a guilty pleasure cocktail of mine; something perfect for beach bars, weddings, or any place where the stock limits your choices.
Which is why I got so excited when I finally got my hands of a bottle of Grand Ten Distilling’s Craneberry Liqueur. This Boston based distillery already made one of my favorite gins, and I’ve had my eye on this unique offering for a while. Basically they take a molasses-based white rum, throw in a ton of cranberries, and finish it red wine casks. The result is a tart, bright, slightly sweet liqueur.
When it came time to mix a drink with it, an amped up Bay Breeze was the obvious choice. Why use plain old cranberry juice when I can take things to the next level with its boozier cousin? The R&D portion for this drink lasted a little longer than usual. I actually ended up making 4 variations.
Throughout the experimentation, the amount of base spirit and Craneberry liqueur remained the same. In the first iteration, I used 1/4 oz each pineapple juice and sweet vermouth, which I thought might bring out the wine cask notes of the Craneberry. I made it with both gin and vodka as the base spirit. The gin brought a few too many flavors to the party*, while the vodka one was a little too muddled and the pineapple got lost. Next I stuck with vodka but dropped the vermouth completely, while upping the pineapple to a 1/2 oz. Well, I asked for pineapple with this one, and I got it. A little too much in fact. Finally I decided to go back to a 1/4 oz pineapple and no vermouth, again with a vodka base. Of course my last attempt was the winner.
The Offshore Wind had just enough pineapple to remind me why I like the Bay Breeze so much. Tartness from the cranberries and sweetness from the molasses and pineapple played an exciting game of tug of war on my tongue. The vodka anchored everything and pushed the drink just into the spirit forward category.
Since it’s based on a Bay Breeze, but a little stronger, I wanted to capture that in the name. What’s stronger than a breeze?…Wind, I guess. Keeping the coastal theme going only seemed natural.
This drink really classes up a Bay breeze, yet still maintains an identity of its own. There’s a different layer of cranberry to the drink, and overall it’s much more of a sipper. It might even be enough to finally convince my Sea Breeze drinking friend to change his ways.
* I have been known to take my Bay Breezes with gin from time to time (one of the two pictured above is gin, the other is vodka). I think it would work in the Offshore Wind as well. If you go that route, definitely still leave out the vermouth. Going with 1/2 oz pineapple juice isn’t a bad idea though so it can stand up to the other flavors in the gin. .