Spiced California Cup Mocktail

Spiced California Cup Mocktail is a non-alcoholic adult beverage that pays tribute to a weird recipe from my cookbook collection.  The original recipe, the ominously named California Cup, comes to me courtesy of Adventures in Food, a 1970s cookbook compiled by my parents’ former congregation in Oklahoma.   California Cup is a chilled soup appetizer that mixes cranberry juice and canned tomato soup.  At this point I suspect you are either laughing or suppressing the gag reflex, and I wouldn’t blame you.  But tomato and cranberry turns out to be an inspired combination.  And while I can’t imagine myself serving the original California Cup to fancy company, tomato-cranberry drinks are surprisingly sophisticated and refreshing.

Spiced California Cup Mocktail below mixes tomato juice with a Spiced Cranberry Shrub, which you’ll need to make a few days ahead of time.  Add a splash of soda and a dash of orange bitters and you’ve got a nicely balanced alcohol-free libation.  If you dabble in non-alcoholic spirits this is a perfect match for Seedlip Spice 94, which has a warming spice profile that reinforces the clove-and-cinnamon-forward shrub.      

This is a potent drink; the shrub is tart and heavy on the cloves and cinnamon.  Even with juices and a little bit of soda packs more of a punch than you’d expect for a non-alcoholic beverage.   If the recipe below is too much, consider serving in a larger glass over ice with a lot more soda.  You’ll still get the spicy kick of the shrub, but you can take it easy on the rest.

There’s enough body here to make meal pairings a challenge.  This is best served as a pre-dinner apertif or a palate cleanser between courses.  Enjoy!


Spiced California Cup Mocktail

  • For: 2 mocktails
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  1. Mix ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake for 10-15 seconds until well mixed. Strain into a small glass or mason jar, and top with soda.

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