Fall is cranberry harvest season and the most ubiquitous way to savor the fruit is as sauce at the holiday table. But a cocktail is also a wonderful vessel for enjoying these pretty red berries and is the perfect way to toast the festive season. This simple drink is made from fresh cranberries, vodka (or bourbon), mint, lime, and sugar and then is topped off with a bit of ginger ale for a little fizz.
Although frozen cranberries are available, it's best to make this drink with fresh cranberries, which start showing up in grocery store produce departments near Thanksgiving. The tartness of fresh cranberries is tempered by some sweetness from brown sugar and ginger ale, natural companions to cranberry's flavors.
The cranberries only need to be washed; they don't require soaking or cooking, and the tiny seeds on the inside are entirely edible.
- 1/4 cup fresh cranberries, approximately 8 berries
- 1 1/2 ounces vodka (or bourbon)
- 5 small fresh mint leaves
- 1 medium lime wedge
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 5 ounces ginger ale
- Fresh mint leaves, garnish
Gather the ingredients.
Place the cranberries, vodka, mint, lime, and sugar in a cocktail shaker.
Using a muddling stick (or the back of a tablespoon), muddle the mixture until the cranberries are slightly crushed and the mint is bruised.
Add ice and shake for approximately 10 seconds.
Place the mixture into a rocks glass with ice and add the ginger ale. Garnish with fresh mint leaves.
Serve and enjoy.
- To make this drink into a cranberry mocktail, simply eliminate the vodka.
- The sweetness of apple, especially apple cider, is a great addition to this cocktail recipe as it balances out the tartness of the cranberry.
- Orange, lime, or even grapefruit can add a layer of flavor to a cranberry cocktail. The bitterness of the grapefruit mixes nicely with the tartness of the cranberries.
Cocktail Garnish Tips
Besides a well-stocked bar, you'll want a few tools on hand to make the best garnishes for this and other cocktails.
- Lemon peeler, also called a citrus stripper, makes citrus peel twists.
- Melon baller so you can add a melon ball to the bottom of a martini.
- A channel knife can make finer ratchets or lines in fruit, and also makes it easier to make spirals from large fruit such as oranges or grapefruit.
- A handheld zester allows you to add zest to salts for a colorful salt or sugar rim, and can also be used to make fruit strips.
- A small, dedicated, nonporous cutting board for cutting lemon wheels, carrot sticks, or celery stalks.
- A sharp paring knife will ensure the lime or lemon is cut at the right angle to create those perfect wedges.