Cranberries. Bright red and shockingly tart, these little fruits can provide both a pop of color and a punch of flavor to a wide range of mixed drinks. While many people associate the flavor of cranberries with holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, they’re versatile enough to be featured in cocktails all year-round.
A vodka cran, sometimes called a Cape Cod or cranberry vodka, is one of the most well-recognized and well-loved cranberry cocktails out there. It has just two simple ingredients:
- 1 1/2 oz vodka
- 5 oz cranberry juice
To make a classic vodka cran, simply combine all the ingredients in a highball glass filled with ice and stir. Garnish with a lime wedge.
Cranberry-Orange Gin Fizz
While it needn’t be relegated solely to the holiday season, cranberry certainly goes well with other flavors associated with the most wonderful time of the year. Mixing it with the piney flavor of gin and the earthy flavor of time makes for a truly festive combination. For this fizz, you’ll need:
- 1 oz gin
- 1/2 Triple Sec or Cointreau
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 oz cranberry juice
- 1/2 oz orange juice
- cranberry-flavored lemon-lime soda
Pour gin and Triple Sec or Cointreau in an empty cocktail shaker and muddle in the thyme. Add the cranberry juice and orange juice to the cocktail shaker along with ice and shake until chilled. Strain into a highball glass filled with ice and top with cranberry-flavored soda. Garnish with an orange slice, a few cranberries, and a sprig of thyme.
A summertime staple, the margarita’s classic lime flavor pairs well with the tartness of cranberries. To mix up these margaritas you’ll need:
- 4 oz cranberry juice
- 2 oz lime juice
- 2 oz tequila
- 2.5 tbsp Triple Sec or Cointreau
Rim margarita glasses with sugar or salt if desired. Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and stir until combined, then pour into rimmed glasses.
For a frozen margarita, combine all ingredients in a blender with ice and blend until slushy, then pour into glasses.
Pink Honey Martini
Thanks to its sweetness, honey is great for cutting through the tartness of cranberries to help balance a drink’s flavor. For this drink you’ll want:
- 1 oz vodka
- 1 oz honey liqueur
- 1 splash cranberry juice
- 1 dash sour mix
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until chilled. Strain into a chilled martini glass or coupe glass filled with ice. Garnish with cranberries and a spiral of lemon peel.
The Red Queen
Elderflower liqueur is great for adding light floral notes to cocktails, as it does here in the Red Queen. To make this jewel-toned cocktail worthy of the Crown Jewels, you’ll need:
- 2 oz cranberry juice
- 2.5 tbsp gin
- 1/2 oz elderflower liqueur
- 1/2 lemon
Juice the lemon. Add cranberry juice, gin, elderflower liqueur, and lemon juice to a cocktail shaker and shake until chilled. Strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with cranberries.
This cocktail pairs cranberries with blueberries and blackberries to help balance the tartness. After a little work crushing the berries, this is easy mix just takes:
- 1 oz cranberry vodka
- 1 oz cranberry juice
- 5 oz hard apple cider
Scoop 4-5 blueberries, 4-5 cranberries, and 2-3 blackberries and crush them, then transfer the slurry to a lowball glass filled with ice. Combine vodka, cranberry, and hard apple cider in a cocktail shaker and shake until combined. Pour into the glass and garnish with a handful of uncrushed berries.
These are just a few of the fabulous cranberry cocktails just waiting to be shaken and stirred.