By the time the holiday party we were hosting for our neighbors had gotten in near-full-swing, I had exhausted the supply of cranberry nectar for the “Portland Wintry Mix” cocktail of the evening. Not only that but the vodka was running dangerously low as well. Just then, the two remaining guests arrived expecting to be served the signature party cocktail. The roar of the crowd urging the newly-arrived couple to sink a few Portland Wintry Mix cocktails completely drowned out my meek confession that we had run out of the key ingredient.

But that simply would not do.

One neighbor, suddenly grasping the gravity of the situation, offered to rescue the bar by bringing more cranberry juice and vodka from home. Off he dashed but returned with only vodka. The cranberry juice, he explained, had been left at their second home. Another neighbor announced she had some “tart cherry” juice to contribute and hurried out the door while I stood there wondering what kind of cocktail I would invent with that.

I knew I needed to balance the tartness of the cherry with something sweet – so I introduced a splash of sparkling apple cider to see what would result. After one trial drink (downed by a willing volunteer) with a minor adjustment, the new cocktail was born.

Before I had a chance to ask for naming suggestions, a chortling faction proudly proclaimed the moniker for the modified mixture to be the “Winter Slush”.

Winter Slush

  • 1½ shot Vodka
  • ½ shot Cointreau (or other orange liqueur)
  • 1 lime wedge, squeezed
  • 1 shot sparkling apple cider
  • 100% Red Tart Cherry Juice juice to nearly fill the glass

  • Build the drink in an ice-filled cocktail glass. Mix by vigorously pouring everything, ice and all, from the glass into a cocktail shaker and back into the glass.

And with the delight of a job well-done, the guests responsible for the name of the new cocktail added, “…when you drink too many, the name changes to the ‘Winter’s Lush’!”

And the crowd went wild.