cranberry old fashioned
Take your favorite classic cocktail up a festive notch with this delish Cranberry Old Fashioned cocktail! A super-easy cranberry simple syrup makes this bourbon drink sweet, tart and perfect for the holidays.
Note: This post was originally published in November of 2014. We’ve since updated the recipe and the photos!
Cranberry Old Fashioned Cocktail Recipe
In our house, holidays = an excuse for fancy cocktails. And when I say fancy, I still mean easy; we aren’t making smoked elixirs and infused liqueurs or anything like that. The most we are doing here is taking 10 extra minutes to make a delicious cranberry-cinnamon simple syrup, and let me tell you it is 100% worth the time and effort. Add it to a glass with bourbon and bitters, and cheers to everything for which you’re thankful.
Here is what you can expect from this drink:
- Your favorite cocktail with a festive twist
- A balance of bitter, sweet, tart and fruity flavors
- A drink that’s easy to scale for a crowd
- A drink that’s easy to customize to your preferences and tastes
How to Make Cranberry Simple Syrup
The basis of this drink couldn’t be easier; you’re basically swirling bourbon, simple syrup and bitters in a glass, then adding ice. My kinda drink! But before you get to that point, we need to make the cranberry simple syrup. Good thing that’s also easy to do. Here’s how:
- Step One: Bring the mixture to a boil. Add all the ingredients for the simple syrup (fresh cranberries, sugar, orange zest, etc.) just to a boil in a medium saucepan.
- Step Two: Simmer the syrup. Once the mixture reaches a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved, the cranberries are bursting and the mixture is a light red color.
- Step Three: Steep and store. After about 10 minutes of simmering, remove the saucepan from the heat. Allow the mixture to sit another 10 minutes in the saucepan to steep, then strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a lidded jar or other container.
Once the simple syrup has completely cooled, you can store it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. That’s a lot of opportunity for a holiday cocktail.
How to Make a Cranberry Old Fashioned Your New Favorite Cocktail
If you’re already a fan of old fashioned cocktails, I have no doubt you will love this drink. That said, everyone has their preferences on sweetness/bitterness/etc., which is why I am here to offer you several ways to adapt this recipe to your tastes:
- Add up to 1 oz more bourbon (2 oz to 3 oz total) if you love the taste of bourbon and want a stronger drink.
- Add anywhere from 1/4 oz to 1/2 oz (or more) of the cranberry simple syrup for a sweeter cocktail
- Use your favorite bitters! We usually use orange bitters, but our favorite choice lately has been these Old Fashioned Bitters from Dashfire.
- Add ice, or drink it neat. Some people like ice-cold drinks, while others like to keep them undiluted. You do you!
- Add garnishes, or leave them out. I love the added citrus flavor from a twist of orange, but feel free to keep it clean.
More Cocktail Recipes!
- bee’s knees cocktail
- holiday negroni
- pomegranate kir royale
- harvest apple ginger smash
- watermelon mojitos
Cranberry Old Fashioned
- Prep Time: 5 mins
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 20 mins
- Yield: 1 cocktail 1x
- Category: Drink
- Method: Cook
- Cuisine: American
Sweet, spiced, tart and delicious, you’re going to love this Old Fashioned with a cranberry twist!
For the cranberry simple syrup:
- 2 cups fresh cranberries
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup water
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 teaspoon fresh-grated orange zest
For the cocktail:
- 2 to 3 oz bourbon
- 1/4 to 1/2 oz cranberry simple syrup
- 2 to 3 dashes orange bitters
- Fresh cranberries and an orange twist, for garnish
1. To make the cranberry simple syrup: In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring all simple syrup ingredients to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to a simmer; cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until sugar is dissolved, cranberries have burst and mixture is very slightly thick and red in color. Remove from heat; steep mixture for another 10 minutes, then use a fine-mesh sieve to strain syrup into a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Cool completely at room temperature, then store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
2. To make one cocktail: Add bourbon, cranberry simple syrup and bitters to a cocktail glass; stir for 10 to 15 seconds, then top off with ice. Garnish with fresh cranberries and a twist of orange.
- Simple syrup recipe adapted from Burrata and Bubbles.
Keywords: cranberry simple syrup, bourbon cocktail, holiday drink, Christmas drink
Girl, you totally nailed it with this cocktail! I love good old fashioned but sometimes the cherry is a bit too overpowering. Cranberry is a genius addition! Happy Thanksgiving, Stephanie!
oh my goodness!! I love how you used canned jellied cranberry sauce in here!! so creative and this cocktail looks fabulous!! love!! and hope you guys have a fabulous Thanksgiving!!
I need to spend Thanksgiving at your house.. You’ve had such great recipes for the holiday! Now pass me this drank!
Love that you used actual cranberry sauce in this drink and not just cranberry juice. What a great idea. And bourbon….hellow! YUM!
I want to come by your place and have a pint o this with your family! Your thanksgiving will be a real hit this year!
Gorgeous drink. Looks like I need to buy another can of jellied cranberry sauce. 😉 Wishing you and yours a most wonderful Thanksgiving!
You mentioned making a big batch of these. Any suggestions on how to scale this up for a larger crowd? I don’t want to be behind the bar all night when my extended family starts begging for seconds. 😉
I absolutely LOVE THIS. We need to go out, b/c old fashioneds (and bourbon) are my faves. Happening tonight w/ leftover cranberry sauce!
INSANE-LY AWESOME!! I adore a good old fashioned. Totes actioning on Thursday!!
Totally original! There is one thing I’ve learned from a few thabksgiving dinners. Those who love canned cranberry sauce LOVE canned cranberry sauce. I need to make this cocktail for my in-laws!!
Haha! Awesome cranberry idea. I cannot wait to partake in all of the Thanksgiving festivities and I think all of your blog followers should join us for a toast! ????
This reminds me of one of my favorite things ever, jam cocktails! LOVE!
Oh wow I’m loving the ingredients in this cocktail. I don’t like cranberry sauce but I’m willing to buy it for this recipe.
This would be so delicious!! I love it!
High fives to bourboning it up around Thanksgiving! We must be two birds of a feather…I made a cranberry sauce bourbon cocktail last week and was absolutely amazed by how well it turned out. Love your cranberry old fashioned! Cheers!