Fresh Cranberry Cocktail Recipe

Vodka and cranberry cocktail
Michael Paul / Getty Images
  • Total: 3 mins
  • Prep: 3 mins
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Yield: 1 drink (1 cocktail)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
195 Calories
0g Fat
27g Carbs
1g Protein
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

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. 


  • 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 sugar (brown)
  • 5 ounces ginger ale

Steps to Make It

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

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

  3. Add ice and shake for approximately 10 seconds.

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

Ingredient Substitutions and Cocktail Tips

Cranberries are tart and considering the sweet-sour balance that is the aim of many cocktail recipes, cranberry is a great place to start. Adding to the tart taste of cranberries means finding a sweet addition that doesn't overpower the drink. Here are some options to enhance a basic fresh cranberry cocktail:

  • Fizz: Adding club soda, ginger ale or 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.

  • Apple: 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. 

  • Citrus: 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.

Become a Cocktail Garnish King or Queen

You have us to share the best cocktail recipes with you, but your creativity will make them look their best. Here are a few tools you'll need to make the best garnishes for this and other cocktails:

  • Lemon peeler: also called a citrus stripper, this will help you make those citrus peel twists that look so cute.

  • Melon baller: place a melon ball at the bottom of a martini is the ultimate in finishing off a drink. Use this to get the job done.

  • Channel knife: 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.

  • Zester: A handheld zester allows you to add zest to salts for a colorful salt or sugar rim or to make fruit strips.

  • Cutting board: This one's obvious, but to make lemon wheels, carrot sticks or celery stalks, you should have a dedicated cutting board that's non-porous.

  • Sharp paring knife: the perfect wedges don't just happen. A paring knife will ensure the lime or lemon is cut at the perfect angle.