The California Cup Mocktail is a quick, fruit-forward non-alcoholic beverage inspired by a 1970s chilled soup recipe. The original recipe, with the unassuming name California Cup, caught my eye for its weird mix of cranberry juice and Campbell’s tomato soup. The same cookbook contains any number of savory Jell-O salads, making it one of the less horrifying options. So I gave it a try, and was pleasantly surprised. Cranberry juice and tomato are a surprisingly strong pairing. I’m not sure that I’d ever serve California Cup to company, but I knew there was more I could do with cranberries and tomatoes.
I landed on a simple mocktail that mixed cranberry, tomato, and tangerine juices. The cranberry and tomato mixture recreates the odd goodness of the original chilled soup, while the citrus adds a sweet-tart balance. A little bit of ice and soda and you’ve got yourself a weirdly refreshing drink. If you are looking for that little something extra, this mocktail works well with Seedlip Grove 42. For those unfamiliar, Seedlip is a non-alcoholic distilled spirit and will add some of the warmth and complexity of a more adult beverage. The Grove 42 variety is citrus-forward with a hint of ginger reinforces the orangeiness of the tangerine juice. It’s not meant to be a non-alcoholic approximation of an orange liqueur or any traditional spirit; it’s simply an alternative starting place for building a cocktail. It’s priced like a fine spirit and may not be practical for all circumstances, but it makes things feel extra fancy.
California Cup Mocktail may be used as an apertif or to “nurse” during an outdoor cookout. For a lighter option, dilute with soda or tonic water for a versatile and unusual punch. Enjoy!
- 2 small tangerines or satsuma mandarins
- 4 oz tomato juice (low sodium, if avaialble)
- 4 oz 100% cranberry juice
- 1 oz Seedlip Citrus Grove 42 (optional)
- orange bitters
- soda or tonic water
- Cut two thin center slices out of the tangerines and reserve for garnish. Juice the remaining halves and reserve.
- Add tomato juice, cranberry juice, and tangerine juice to a shaker with ice and shake several times. Strain and divide evenly into two small glasses. Add 1-2 dashes orange bitters to each glass, and top with soda. Garnish with tangerine slices and serve.
Ocean Spray brand Cran-Tangerine would work well here, also, but I have a devil of a time finding it these days.
For a lighter option, strain into a larger glass over ice and top with tonic water.
If you’re feeling extra, straining the tomato juice through a fine mesh strainer or coffee filter will improve the appearance of the final product. It’s not at all necessary.