Fresh Cranberry Cocktail

Vodka and cranberry cocktail
Michael Paul / Getty Images
  • Total: 3 mins
  • Prep: 3 mins
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Yield: 1 drink (1 cocktail)

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. Here's a sweet and colorful fresh cranberry cocktail that's perfect for fall and winter. Surprise your guests with this mixed drink made from the bitter fresh cranberry, but sweetened with the addition of brown sugar and ginger ale. 

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.


  • 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.
  • The sweetness of the apple, especially apple cider, is a great addition to this cocktail recipe as it balances out the tartness of the cranberry and gives that sweet-sour balance your palate will love.
  • 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.