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!
- 4 oz tomato juice (low sodium, if avaialble)
- 4 oz Spiced Cranberry Shrub
- 1 dash orange bitters
- 1 oz Seedlip Spice 94 (optional)
- 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.