pomegranateIt’s always an honor to be asked to be part of or contribute to a wedding, but it’s even more flattering when your culinary skills are called upon for said wedding.

In October, Kim specifically requested I bring my “famous potato salad” to her post-Scotland wedding reception, and last weekend, Catherine, Jeff, and all of us wedding guests toasted their happiness with my Lady in Red at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

Over the summer, Catherine — for whom I once designed a simple birthday cocktail to go along with her gift of St. Germain elderflower liqueur — asked if I would shake up a special wedding cocktail. Her only request: it had to be red to match her dress.

After first assessing what the Mandarin Oriental stocked in their bar, I set about to concocting the cocktail. Aside from staining its cheeks crimson, I wanted this cocktail to be three things: seasonal, celebratory, and reflective of the bride’s tastes. Well, not all of that happened.

Ignoring sangria and all other wine-based cocktails of that ilk, I knew that the red hue was going to come from cranberry or pomegranate juice (seasonal!), and after a few (read: nine) attempts, I ditched the cranberry juice. It was too easily diluted in both color and flavor. I also had to ditch my idea of including both bourbon and ginger ale in this cocktail (the bride’s signature drink) because no matter what I did, the bourbon came out too…bourbon-y.

A few weeks later, I started with a whole new plan and a whole new red. Now working with the stronger, tarter pomegranate juice, I cried, “Eureka” after three passes and then set to refining the flavors.

Victorious and hung-over, I presented the recipe to the bride along with a list of potential names: Ruby Slipper, Scarlet 75 (the drink is an adaptation of the classic French 75), Red Letter Day, and Lady in Red. (She chose “Lady in Red,” so if you now have Chris de Burgh in your head, it’s not my fault.)

(Okay, maybe it is.)

On my reserve list of names was Study in Scarlet, Red-dy or Knot (my husband’s contribution), The Red Menace, The Scarlet Letter, The Cat’s Meow, My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose, and Redrum. (I will be saving that last one for a blood-soaked mojito or daiquiri in case Stephen King ever wants me to design a wedding cocktail for him.)

Lady in Red

2 oz. pomegranate juice
1 1/2 oz. gin
4 oz. ginger ale (preferably very spicy ginger ale)
Sparkling rosé
2-3 dashes Angostura bitters
Pomegranate seeds

Shake pomegranate juice and gin with ice; strain into a cocktail glass. Add ginger ale and top off with sparkling rose. Finish with bitters. Garnish with four pomegranate seeds for health, happiness, love, and laughter.

I am pleased and relieved to report that the drink was extremely well received. Even my French friend, who I thought preferred champagne to everything, was seen drinking more than one Lady in Red. Additionally, the bartender told someone else that he’s seen a lot of guest-created cocktails pass through his shaker, but he had never seen one reordered so many times. Finally — and most importantly — the bride, the groom, and all my cocktailing friends loved it.

I hope you do, too.

Lady in Red 11 November,2008Stephanie Lucianovic

  • This sounds amazing! I’m probably going to mix it up for my parents when they’re here for Thanksgiving — sounds delicious and ever-so-festive. Is there a particular brand of spicy ginger ale you recommend?

  • May I suggest the original version of The Lady in Red for those who might have an allergic reaction to the 80s version?

    Is she a study, oh buddy, what a personality!

  • LOVE the video link! i laughed out loud! and now i do have it stuck in my head and yes it is your fault 🙂 but i digress, the cocktail. i love just about anything with pomegranate so might have to give up my fear and loathing of gin and mix me up one of these. stay tuned.

  • This cocktails sounds amazing!!! I love the photo, too! Just gorgeous.

    I am going to try out your “Lady In Red”, and perhaps serve it at my Thanksgiving get-together this year. It sounds so festive, and a perfect compliment to the day.

    Thank you for sharing! I will let you know how it goes.


    ~ Paula
    (from Ambrosia Quest)

  • Catherine

    Oh Stephanie, it was the BEST custom drink ever! Everyone was drinking it, everyone was reordering it, and everyone was loving it. Thank you thank you thank you again!

  • Thanks everyone!

    Genie, I used Fever Tree’s ginger ale for this drink. It’s definitely my ginger ale of choice. Crisp and light and not over-syrupy sweet.

    Catherine, it was my pleasure.

  • Millicent

    The mother-of-the-bride agrees that this was perfect and added beautifully to the wedding celebration. Thank you!!

  • Millicent

    The mother-of-the-bride agrees that this was perfect and added beautifully to the wedding celebration!

  • Nice, Lady in Red drink. I don’t know where to get ginger ale from all the way here. But worth a shot, I see that people are raving about it. My favorite is Long Island Ice Tea, gets you drunk fast 🙂


Stephanie Lucianovic

A former picky eater, Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic is a writer, editor, and lapsed cheesemonger in the San Francisco Bay Area. A culinary school grad with an English lit degree, she has written for CNN.com, MSNBC.com, Popular Science, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe. Additionally, she has been writing for KQED’s Bay Area Bites since its inception and is the website editor for KQED’s Emmy-award winning show “Check, Please! Bay Area.”

Stephanie was an original recapper at Television Without Pity and worked on a line of cookbooks for William-Sonoma as well as in the back kitchen of a Jacques Pépin cooking show. Her first book, SUFFERING SUCCOTASH: A Picky Eater’s Quest To Understand Why We Hate the Foods We Hate (Perigee Books, 2012) is a non-fiction narrative and a heartfelt and humorous exposé on the inner lives of picky eaters that Scientific American called “hilarious” and “the perfect popular science book for a reader that doesn’t think he or she wants to read a popular science book.”

Stephanie lives in Menlo Park with her husband, three-year-old son, assorted cats, and has been blogging at The Grub Report for over a decade.

Follow her on Twitter at @grubreport

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