Cranberry juice makes brilliant and tasty drinks! Here all the best cranberry cocktail recipes, from Cosmos to Madras to the laid-back Sea Breeze.
Looking for stunning and refreshing cocktail recipes? Grab a bottle of cranberry juice! This bright red juice makes some of the best mixed drinks out there. They’re vibrant in color and sweet tart in flavor. There’s everything from the sophisticated bright pink Cosmopolitan cocktail, to the laid-back Sea Breeze, to the no-frills Vodka Cranberry. Here’s a list of our very favorite cranberry cocktail recipes! But first: a few notes on the type of cranberry juice to use!
Cranberry juice vs cranberry juice cocktail
While most traditional versions of a vodka cranberry use sweetened cranberry juice, all of these cranberry cocktail recipes use 100% cranberry juice! What’s the difference:
Cranberry juice is unsweetened. It tastes tart and is labeled as “100% juice”.
Cranberry juice cocktail is sweetened, often with added sugars or high-fructose corn syrup. Most traditional versions of cranberry cocktail recipes use this; even if they specify “cranberry juice” in the recipe, it often means cranberry juice cocktail.
These cranberry cocktail recipes use unsweetened juice!
If most cranberry cocktails use the sweetened version of cranberry juice, why use the tart unsweetened juice here?
It has less sugar. Use 100% juice and the drink has less sugar overall.
You can customize the sweetness. To balance the flavor, you can add back sweetness with maple syrup or simple syrup.
Makes naturally sweet drinks (no refined sugar added). Alex and I like using maple syrup in our cranberry cocktails because it provides a gentler sweetness. We use maple syrup to sweeten lots of our cocktails, from the gin fizz to whiskey sour to our classic daiquiri.
The color is brighter. The color is bright pink because 100% juice has a deeper color.
First up in the best cranberry cocktail recipes: it’s got a brilliant pink color and tangy, refreshing flavor: yes, it’s a Cosmo! A Cosmopolitan cocktail, to be exact. This classic cocktail is ready to spice up your next gathering, be it a dinner party or drinks on the patio with friends. It was at its height in the 1990’s (hello, Sex and the City), but the Cosmo is a legit sour that’s worth drinking.
Ingredients: Citron vodka, cranberry juice, Cointreau, and lime
Want a drink that’s laid-back, tart and refreshing? Look no further than the Sea Breeze cocktail! It tastes just like its name: light, breezy, and all about no-frills vibes. It’s perfect for happy hour with friends, a light brunch drink, or a little evening nightcap. Or mix up a big pitcher for a garden party or a weekend at the lake. Really anything goes here!
Ingredients: Cranberry juice, vodka, and grapefruit juice
Here’s one of the easiest cocktail recipes you can make: the vodka cranberry! Also known as a Cape Codder, it has only a handful of ingredients and it tastes tart and refreshing. Even better (or worse?), it goes down easy. The flavor is nicely balanced so that the alcohol is not too strong. Fun fact: Believe it or not, this classic drink was invented in the 1940's by Ocean Spray itself (you know, the cranberry company?). What a marketing ploy: we're still drinking them today.
Looking for an easy and refreshing fruity cocktail? Enter: the Bay Breeze! Also called the Hawaiian Sea Breeze, it has a vivid color and sweet tart flavor. Because the Bay Breeze features the tropical taste of pineapple, it feels carefree and beachy. It’s perfect as a summer cocktail on the patio, or a wintery cocktail when you’re dreaming of the sun’s warmth! If you'd like, follow our instructions to make a layered drink.
Ingredients: Vodka, cranberry juice, pineapple juice
Here's a fun cranberry cocktail: the Cranberry Margarita! This bright red drink is absolutely stunning to look at, and the sweet tart flavor is crisp and refreshing. It’s got all the character of the classic margarita, but a beautiful new look and nuance to the flavor.
Everything’s better with bubbles, right? This brilliant brunch drink works for any season: the Cranberry Mimosa! Tart cranberry is an ideal pairing for subtly sweet orange juice. Pair the two and the glass is full of fiery red color and crisp flavor. It’s bubbly, it’s refreshing, and it’s downright fun. It’s easy as pie to mix up and perfect for entertaining. While some might reserve cranberry for winter, we think you can serve it any time of year!
Looking for a quick and easy drink? Make yourself a Madras cocktail! This vibrant pink vodka drink is zingy and refreshing, featuring cranberry juice for tartness and color. It takes no time at all to make: just mix it right in the glass and serve on ice!
Ingredients: Cranberry juice, vodka, and orange juice
Most cocktails with cranberry feature either vodka or champagne. But here's a fresh and unique spin: meet the Rum and Cranberry Juice cocktail! It’s beautifully tart, balanced with simple syrup and tangy lime. This easy cocktail takes just a few minutes to whip up: it’s almost like a rum spin on a Cosmo.
Here’s a tasty, sweet tart spin on the vodka martini that you’ve got to try: the Cranberry Martini! It’s refreshing, zingy and perfectly balanced, starring Cointreau orange liqueur and fresh lemon juice. Pair it with cranberry juice and it's a beautiful drink: sugar rim optional!
Another great cranberry cocktail: mix it with St Germain! St Germain is very new to the scene, but this elderflower liqueur is a must have in your liquor cabinet. The unique flavor it brings to drinks is unlike any other. Made with vodka, cranberry and St Germain, this cocktail sweet tart with a bit of elderflower on the finish. It goes down very easily (so watch out!).
Ingredients: Vodka, cranberry, St Germain, lemon, simple syrup
Ready for the most vibrant, stunning cocktail? Enter this cranberry champagne cocktail! Its bright color and cozy vibe makes it perfect for entertaining. It has a tart flavor and bubbly texture, and it uses only a few simple ingredients. Garnish with fresh cranberries for a festive look.
Ingredients: Cranberry juice, Cointreau, and champagne
Some days call for a classic cocktail, others for a funky and unique craft cocktail. Yet some others call for…a down home party drink. Try this bubbly and fruity Vodka Spritzer! It’s just sweet enough with a subtle berry flavor: tangy, refreshing and sparkling all at once. Cranberry juice makes the brilliant red color, but it’s 100% juice so it’s tart and crisp instead of saccharine. It makes for the most satisfying party drink that you won’t want to end!
More great cocktail recipes
Looking for more? Here are a few more of our favorite cocktails:
French 75 Cocktail Here’s a classic cocktail made with gin and lemon. It’s sophisticated and perfect for celebrations of all kinds!
Gin Fizz Cocktail This gin fix is sweet, tangy, and has a frothy egg white foam topping.
St Germain Champagne Cocktail This one mixes elderflower liqueur with champagne, lemon, and gin. A sophisticated bubbly drink perfect for any occasion!
Place the vodka, cranberry juice, cointreau, lemon juice, and syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake 15 seconds until cold. Strain the liquid into a martini glass.
Squeeze with the lime wedge and serve, garnished with a lime wheel if desired.
*If you have it, use citron vodka for the most authentic Cosmo: in this case you can omit the lemon juice. In our tests we found it was just as tasty to use standard vodka with lemon juice, so you don’t have to buy another type of vodka.
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.