Mors is a tart, berry-based refresher that has a heck of a pedigree — it was first mentioned in the sixteenth-century Russian homemaking manual "Domostroy." Although it's frequently made from cranberries, mors can easily be made with just about any kind of wild or cultivated sour berries. And although modern-day mors is often sweetened with sugar, I prefer to use honey; it's a nod to the origin of the word mors, which probably derives from the Latin mulsa, or "honey drink."
Forget about the store-bought stuff that comes in cartons — thanks to the natural pectin in the berries, this juice has a velvety texture.
Besides using fresh or frozen cranberries, you could try another tart berry, such as red currants, gooseberries, lingonberries, barberries, highbush cranberries (Viburnum trilobum), or Cornelian cherries (Cornus mas).
Mors is wonderful as a hot drink, too. To make a spiced mulled drink, just simmer the strained mors with a cinnamon stick, a few strips of orange zest, and a couple of cloves for a few minutes over low heat.
Makes about 1 quart (940 ml)
2 cups (224 grams) cranberries
5 cups (1175 milliliters) water
1/3 cup (113 grams) honey, or more to taste
Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 1 tablespoon, or 15 milliliters)
Rinse and pick over the cranberries, discarding any stems or leaves.
Combine the cranberries and water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook until the cranberries burst. Remove from the heat.
Using a potato masher or the back of a large wooden spoon, thoroughly mash the cranberries in the pot. Return the pot to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the honey and lemon juice.
Cover and let cool to room temperature. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a container; discard the pulp, or better yet, reserve it for another use.
Cover and refrigerate, and use within 1 week. Serve chilled.
Reprinted with permission from Wild Drinks & Cocktails: Handcrafted Squashes, Shrubs, Switchels, Tonics, and Infusions to Mix at Home by Emily Han, copyright (c) 2015. Published by Fair Winds Press.
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(Image credits: Emily Han)