Hosting a Holiday Party? Make Cranberry Cocktails

Tart, tangy, and bright red, cranberries are one of our favorite fall fruits. We’re totally into classic cranberry sauce and the myriad desserts you can make with them (cranberry clafoutis, anyone?). We’re also down to use said berries in the booziest of bevvies. From punches to martinis to margaritas, cranberries make a gorgeously red and zingy addition to many liquors. Consider your Thanksgiving cocktail conundrum solved.

Fall punch

You might not associate white rum and lime juice with fall, but this tropical cranberry beverage is the perfect complement to the richness of your Thanksgiving meal.

2 cups fresh cranberries
½ cup sugar
1 cup white rum
½ cup fresh lime juice
Mint sprigs

Bring cranberries, sugar, and 2 cups water to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. Strain syrup into a pitcher; cover and chill. Set cranberries aside.

Add rum and lime juice to syrup; chill until cold, about 1 hour. Serve punch over crushed ice, garnish with reserved cranberries and mint sprigs.

Frozen marg

Who doesn’t love a margarita? It’s boozy, bracing, and in this case, beautifully bright. This version features a cranberry simple syrup, which gets combined with tequila, lime juice, and ice. Cheers to a very fall marg.

1/2 cup sugar
8 ounces frozen cranberries (2 cups)
1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest
1 cup tequila
1/4 cup fresh lime juice

Make simple syrup: stir together sugar, cranberries, lime zest and 2 tablespoons water in a small saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until cranberries just start to burst, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; let cool completely. Refrigerate, covered, until cold, at least 1 hour and up to 1 week.

Make cocktail: In a blender, combine tequila, lime juice, 4 cups ice, and 1 1/2 cups cranberries and syrup from your simple syrup. Blend until smooth. Divide among 4 margarita glasses.


This drink gets a little spiciness from a homemade ginger syrup, which is then combined with lime juice, cranberry juice, and vodka (or gin, if you please).

4-inch piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup frozen cranberries
1 lime, juiced
2 cups vodka or gin
2 cups cranberry juice
splash club soda
shaved ginger

Make ginger syrup: Place ginger, sugar, and water in a saucepan and simmer until sugar dissolves and the ginger is infused, about 20 minutes. Strain and allow to cool fully before use.

Make cocktail: Crush the frozen cranberries in a large glass pitcher. Add the lime juice and leftover rinds to the pitcher. Pour in vodka, cranberry juice, and ginger syrup. Put ice in low-ball glasses and fill glasses about 2/3 full. Top off with club soda and garnish with a shaving of fresh ginger.

Tart spritz

This lighter-on-the-liquor combo really ups the ante in terms of color and tang. Mildly bitter aperol adds even more flavor to this simple mix of cranberry syrup, orange bitters, and seltzer.

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 cups fresh cranberries, roughly chopped
2 ounces Aperol
2 dashes orange bitters
3 ounces chilled seltzer
orange peel for garnish

Make cranberry syrup: Combine water, sugar, and cranberries in a small saucepan over very low heat. Cook, stirring frequently and adjusting heat to maintain a bare simmer, until the cranberries have completely softened, 20 to 25 minutes. Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve, pressing on cranberries to extract their liquid. Let cool and refrigerate until ready to use. Syrup can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add Aperol, cranberry syrup, and bitters. Shake until well chilled, about 20 seconds. Strain into an ice filled highball glass and top with 3 ounces of seltzer, or more to taste. Stir gently. Garnish with orange peel if desired.

Cranberry toddy

A hot toddy is a deliciously warming winter drink, but we’ve taken things in a cranberry-forward direction, and swapped in gin for the typical bourbon.

25 fresh mint leaves
3/4 cup boiling water
2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce lemon juice from
1 lemon
1 ounce cranberry syrup (see first cocktail recipe)
lemon slice for garnish

In a mug or a small heatproof bowl, pour the boiling water over the mint leaves and let steep for 5 minutes. While the mint is steeping, combine the gin, cranberry syrup, and lemon juice in a mug. Strain mint tea into mug and stir to combine. Discard mint leaves. Garnish the drink with sliced lemon and serve.

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