Photo: Matthew Kelly

5 New Ways to Make a Vodka Cranberry


You thought a Vodka Cranberry was simple—a stiff pour of vodka topped with Ocean Spray cranberry juice, some ice and that’s it. Voila. A reliable dive bar drink. But the truth is, that seemingly basic cocktail can be so much more.

If you swap out generic cranberry juice for things like tart and tangy fresh cranberries, craft cranberry liqueur or homemade cranberry syrup, you can elevate a Vodka Cranberry to new and delicious heights. You may have built your drinking career on the basic, two-ingredient Vodka Cranberry, but now it’s time to accept a promotion. Leave your entry-level cocktail behind and try one of these four new reimaginings of the Vodka Cranberry.

This variation on the Tom Collins gets a tart and tangy bite from muddled fresh cranberries and lemon. As easy to make as it is to drink, it’s simple enough for a quick afternoon aperitif and pretty enough to serve at a cocktail party.

The Essentials

Whole, Fresh Cranberries
Sparkling Lemonade
In this autumnal take on a classic Sherry Cobbler, muddled fresh cranberries and oranges mingle with Lustau’s East India Sherry for a cocktail packed with flavors of baking spices, burnt sugar, fresh fig and candied walnuts. Drink this Vodka Cran on a foggy fall afternoon while adding another log to the fire.

The Essentials

Fresh Cranberries
“Vodka Cran with a splash of soda” is the go-to order for many neophyte drinkers. But you’ve never had one like this before. Instead of the usual cranberry juice, we swapped in a spiced-cranberry syrup. Inspired by a classic recipe for homemade cranberry sauce, the syrup includes orange zest, cinnamon, allspice and a touch of Gran Marnier for a boozy, citrusy kick. Stirred with vodka and soda water, it becomes the ultimate fall highball.  

The Essentials

Spiced-Cranberry Syrup
Soda Water
This fall-flavored Bramble swaps out the usual crème de mûre (blackberry liqueur) for Clear Creek Distillery’s cranberry liqueur. Made from fresh Oregon coast cranberries, the liqueur imbues cocktails with a puckery sweet-tart flavor. You’ll never settle for a basic Vodka Cranberry again.

The Essentials

Lemon Juice
Cranberry Liqueur
Inspired by trendy drinking vinegars like those from Pok Pok and McClary Bros, this funky take on a basic Vodka Cranberry eschews cranberry juice in favor of an apple cider vinegar-based cranberry shrub. Bright, savory and tart, it’s the perfect digestif.

The Essentials

Cranberry Shrub

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