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The Madras cocktail is a tangy and refreshing, starring vodka, cranberry and orange juice. It’s the ideal quick and easy drink!

Madras cocktail
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Looking for a quick and easy drink? Make yourself a Madras cocktail! This brilliant pink 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! Alex and I have been enjoying the Madras lately as a fast cocktail: we had some cranberry juice left over from making Cosmos and Poinsettias and found this way to use it! Keep reading for the recipe.

Looking for more inspiration? Our top 20 cocktails you should know.

Madras cocktail

What’s a Madras cocktail?

The Madras only uses a few ingredients and one type of liquor: so it’s perfect for easy entertaining! It’s very close to a Cape Codder (or, vodka cranberry), with the addition of orange juice. It’s also very close to a Cosmopolitan cocktail, which has Cointreau and lemon. While it’s not an IBA official cocktail, its cousin the Sea Breeze is (close enough! see below). Here’s what’s in a Madras cocktail:

  • Vodka
  • Cranberry juice
  • Orange juice
  • Spritz of lime

What I wanted to know was, what’s the origin of the Madras cocktail? Most sources claim it was invented in the 1940’s. Popular origin is that the name was for the brightly colored plaid cloth that originated in Madras, India: now called Chennai. Whatever the case: it makes a tangy mixed drink that’s very easy to sip!

A few more orange juice cocktails? The Amaretto Stone Sour, Screwdriver or Harvey Wallbanger, Tequila Sunrise, and of course the always popular Mimosa.

Pouring juice into mixed drink

A Madras cocktail with unsweetened cranberry juice

Most traditional versions of a Madras cocktail use sweetened cranberry juice. But for our version, we use 100% cranberry juice (unsweetened)! There are lots of variations of cranberry juice on the shelf, and many of them have added sugar. Bottles labeled cranberry juice cocktail have added sugars or high-fructose corn syrup for extra sweetness. Why use unsweetened cranberry juice?

  • It has less sugar, and you can customize the sweetness. Use 100% juice and you can customize the sweetness of the drink by adding maple syrup or simple syrup. If you’d like, you can make it more tart or a little more sweet. Alex and I prefer using maple syrup because it provides a gentler sweetness.
  • The color is brighter. The color of this Madras is bright pink because 100% juice has a deeper color.
Madras cocktail

Change it up! Make the Madras into…

There are a few drinks related to the Madras that are tasty as well! Here’s how to turn the Madras cocktail into the following drinks:

  • Vodka Cranberry (Cape Codder): Omit the orange juice and lime
  • Sea Breeze: Switch orange juice to grapefruit juice
  • Bay Breeze: Switch orange juice to pineapple juice
  • Cosmo: Halve the cranberry, add Cointreau, replace the orange with half as much lemon juice.

When to serve a Madras cocktail

This Madras cocktail is fun and celebratory. It’s great as a:

  • Bridal shower drink or bachelorette party drink
  • Girls night drink
  • Summer drink
  • Gender reveal party drink (a fantastic pink drink!)
  • Happy hour drink
  • Dinner party drink
  • Brunch drink (Mother’s Day, etc)
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Madras cocktail

Madras Cocktail

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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x
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The Madras cocktail is a tangy and refreshing, starring vodka, cranberry and orange juice. Everyone should know how to make this quick and easy drink!


  • 1 ½ ounces* vodka
  • 2 ounces 100% unsweetened cranberry juice (do not use sweetened!)
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup or simple syrup**
  • 1 ½ ounces fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1 lime wedge (plus additional for garnish)


  1. Fill a glass with ice. Pour in the vodka, cranberry juice and syrup and stir with bar spoon.
  2. Pour in the orange juice and squeeze the lime wedge on top. Garnish with an additional lime.


*To convert to tablespoons, 1 ounce = 2 tablespoons

**If all you can find is sweetened cranberry juice, omit the syrup.

  • Category: Drinks
  • Method: Stirred
  • Cuisine: Cocktails

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. joey says:

    Wow where did you get that ice? Its beautiful Ive been trying to find ice like that everywhere with no luck