Circa 39 Opens: Cricket Nelson's Holiday Libation (Recipe)

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So you're throwing a holiday party but want to serve something other than store bought tonic and gin or vodka. How about a fruity and refreshing handcrafted pitcher of booze that will have everyone wondering if you picked up a side job as a mixologist?

The drink we're referring to is Pavan's Memory Lane, and it was created by cocktail muse Cricket Nelson. You might know Nelson from the Broken Shaker and now Circa 39, which recently soft-opened. The lady barkeep competed in a Pavan competition last November and won the regional portion for her creative take on an Indian-inspired libation.

Now she can't get enough of the French liqueur made from muscat grapes and a touch of orange blossom. We got a schooled by Nelson herself on how to make this nostalgic creation.

See also: A Lesson in the Art of Martini Making by London Bartender Jack Hubbard

"Pavan is feminine and floral and I wanted to make a great holiday cocktail that reflected that." Nelson's all about batching ahead for parties. "I don't want to be making stuff while I have guests." She leaves it all prepped so all she has to do the day of event is slice fruits.

The first part of the Memory Lane requires you to make your own cranberry-rosemary- infused orange blossom honey syrup. Don't fret - it's a lot simpler than it sounds.

"Mixology is no different than cooking, and making syrup is no different than making jam," explains Nelson.

What you'll need to make your cranberry-infused orange blossom honey:

15 oz. water

30 oz. orange blossom honey

One bag of fresh cranberries

One large green apple

Five large sprigs of rosemary

Peel of one sour orange.

As per Nelson, all ingredients can be purchased at Publix, although she likes to get her orange blossom honey on Amazon.

The method: place all ingredients in pot and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Strain with a fine mesh strainer lined with cheese cloth. "I know what all these weird things are from my grandma." Nelson likes to use a wooden spoon to press on the cheese cloth and then pick up both ends and twist to extract all remaining syrup. Then, simply let cool and pour into a clean glass bottle. Refrigerate until use with your memory lane.

"I chose ingredients that reminded me of the holidays and rosemary is something for me that goes with poultry and Christmas." The reason she chose orange blossom is cause Pavan has grapes and is made with orange blossom so it balances perfectly. "I also have an orange tree growing in my backyard."

Nelson's advice when mixing cocktails is to start with least expensive ingredients and work her way up. "That way if I mess up I'm not wasting anything."

What you'll need to make Pavan Memory Lane:

2 oz. Pavan

4 oz. Prosecco

1.0 oz. lemon juice

.75 oz. of your cranberry-rosemary infused orange blossom honey

green apple slices

lemon slices


garnish: orange blossom water, cranberries, and fresh rosemary

The above is for a single serving. To make it for your holiday party and crowd, simply multiply the number of servings you want to make. Nelson recommends a pitcher for batching and serving large groups sangria style.

"All you really need to do is mix all the liquids, and add in your fruit. We finish it with orange blossom water for some added aroma," concludes Nelson.

Happy holiday drinking.

Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha

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