Sips & Shots: 50 Shots of America–New Jersey

Of all the things that come to mind when I think New Jersey (Miss Congeniality, The Sopranos, the Turnpike and my aunt who lives there to name just a few), light bulbs are not one of them. Seriously, I don’t know where I thought Thomas Edison lived when he was inventing up a storm, but never did I imagine it was New Jersey.

But so it was that the 3rd state of the Union (as of December 18, 1787) was, indeed, the home of the light bulb, the transistor, FM radio, the drive-in movie, the zipper, saltwater taffy and dirigibles. (The list goes on and on, I’m just hitting some highlights, here.) It also seems somewhat… ironic? that the place whose State Dance is the Square Dance is also home to the 2nd largest gambling town, Atlantic City (and, apparently, the city where the board game Monopoly got it’s property names!). Go figure!

When trying to decide on a drink for New Jersey I did my best to steer away from some of the more negative connotations (landfills, various refineries, hints of organized crime…) and, instead, focus on some fun bits. While the presence of the oldest operating nuclear power plant in the US does put one in the mind of a Flaming Moe (from The Simpsons, for those who don’t watch much television)–and the cough syrup ingredient is rather appropriate as I’m a bit under the weather as of this writing–I decided to go with the zipper and another New Jersey creation: cranberry sauce.

Okay, not the sauce, the juice of the same ilk. Let’s not go overboard, right?

So… zipper. Zippy. Zingy. Zesty. What flavor best equates to zippy for me? Horseradish! No, not quite there. Pepper, suggested Todd. Which led to Tabasco and Worcestershire sauces. Not the right direction, I thought. Then it came to me: ginger!

Again, I’m already on cold meds so alcohol isn’t going to be a good mix. So this week’s shot (or little sipper as I prefer to think of them–after all, if they’re so nasty you have to shoot them down just to make them bearable, why bother?) in non-alcoholic.

The Zipper Berry

1/4-inch coin of fresh Ginger, chopped up a bit
1/4 oz Simple Syrup
1 1/2 oz Cranberry Juice (100% juice blend if possible, no extra sweeteners or substitutes)

Muddle the ginger and syrup together in the bottom of a small cocktail shaker. Add juice and top with ice. Shake like you’re breezing through traffic on the turnpike (a fantasy, sure, but it’s all good!) and strain into a cordial glass.

The chilled concoction is, to me, the very definition of zippy. You get a bit of the sweetened juice and then the ginger zaps the back of your palate like an electrical current. It’s a pretty drink, too, as the muddled ginger clouds the juice ever so slightly as a few of the smaller bits drift down to the bottom of the glass. This would make an excellent brunch beverage or, if made on a larger scale and cut with some ginger ale, a lovely sipper for hot Summer afternoons.

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