Q: Why is it so difficult to find pure cranberry juice? I can find pure cherry, apple, grape and even orange juices but no cranberry.
—James A. Wright Jr., Waukegan
A: Pure 100 percent cranberry juice isn't palatable to most consumers because it is "very, very tart," explained Tom Lochner, executive director of the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association.
"Cranberries have few sugars and are very tart and acidic,'' he said. "What we do is take the juice and provide a sweetener." That sweetener could be other juices or water with some sort of sweetener added. Lochner said most cranberry juice products found in the supermarket contain about 27 percent cranberry juice.
Pure cranberry juice can often be found in the health or organic sections of your local market, Lochner said. Some manage to drink it straight; others mix it with ginger ale, lemon-lime soda or orange juice, he added.
Me? I love cranberry juice but "purity" was long negotiable with me, as several yellowing bar tabs for Cosmopolitans and Cape Codders attest.
Here's a clever cranberry cocktail from Bridget Albert, author of "Market-Fresh Mixology," that calls not for cranberry juice but whole berry cranberry sauce. She prefers to make this drink using Rittenhouse 100 rye.
Mr. Dandy's Sauced Cocktail
1 tablespoon whole berry cranberry sauce
1 1/2 ounces rye
1 1/4 ounces Dubonnet Red
1/2 ounce triple sec
4 dashes of Angostura orange bitters
Muddle the cranberry sauce in your mixing glass; add all of the ingredients. Shake hard with ice. Double strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with 3 dried cranberries on a pick.