Fresh Cranberry Cocktail

Fresh cranberry cocktail
Michael Paul / Getty Images
Prep: 3 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 3 mins
Serving: 1 serving

Fall is cranberry harvest season and if cranberry sauce doesn't do it for you, this recipe gives you something to toast with throughout the holiday season. It's made from fresh cranberries, vodka (or bourbon), and garnished with mint.

This colorful and fresh cranberry cocktail is perfect to make throughout fall and winter and makes any occasion feel festive. Frozen cranberries are available, certainly, but make this drink with fresh cranberries, which start showing up in the produce departments of grocery stores around the holidays. The tartness of fresh cranberries is tempered by some sweetness from brown sugar and ginger ale, natural companions to cranberry's flavors.

You can use cranberries right as they are; all you need to do is wash them. They don't require soaking or any other special preparation (don't cook them), and the tiny seeds on the inside are entirely edible.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup cranberries (fresh, approximately 8 berries)
  • 1 1/2 ounces vodka (or bourbon)
  • 5 small mint leaves (fresh)
  • 1 medium lime (1 wedge)
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 5 ounces ginger ale
  • Garnish: fresh mint leaves

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Place cranberries, mint, lime, and sugar in a cocktail shaker.

  3. Using a muddling stick (or the back of a tablespoon), muddle the mixture until the cranberries are slightly crushed and the mint is bruised.

  4. Add ice and shake for approximately 10 seconds.

  5. Place the mixture into a rocks glass with ice and add ginger ale. You can add fresh mint leaves as a garnish.

Recipe Variations

  • Adding club soda, ginger ale, ginger beer, or any carbonated water adds bubbles and a little burn on the way down. Adding fizz is also a good way to switch out the alcohol to make cranberry mocktails for guests who don't drink alcohol.
  • 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 in a cranberry cocktail. The bitterness of the grapefruit, mixed with the tartness of the cranberry, combine to make you pucker up.

Tips

Besides a well-stocked bar, you'll want a few tools on hand to make the best garnishes for this and other cocktails, including:

  • Lemon peeler, also called a citrus stripper. This will help you make those citrus peel twists that look so cute.
  • Melon baller, use it to place a melon ball at the bottom of a martini. It is the ultimate in finishing off a drink.
  • A channel knife can make finer ratchets or lines 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 or to make fruit strips.
  • Use a small cutting board to make lemon wheels, carrot sticks, or celery stalks. You should have a dedicated cutting board for your bar that's non-porous.
  • A sharp paring knife will ensure the lime or lemon is cut at the perfect angle to create those perfect wedges.