Pucker up for cranberry drinks

Food writer Holly Ebel says cranberry juice, in its varied forms, makes a great ingredient in drinks of all kinds.

A trio of cranberry drinks, from left, include a cranberry margarita, wine with cranberry and vodka with cranberry.
Contributed / Mark Claesgens
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Have you had your fill of cranberries lately?

The past few weeks we've had cranberries sauced, in chutney, molded salads and as an ingredient in breads and muffins, all familiar seasonal dishes and baked treats.

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We too often take everything for granted. God has been good to us! Let us not only thank him on Thanksgiving Day, but every day, for all his blessings.

There is, however, another way to celebrate this berry which doesn't get as much attention — as a juice to drink, both plain or as an ingredient in an adult beverage. Both obviously have their place as the holidays get underway. Not only does cranberry juice add zing and color but is a tasty addition in hot tea, seltzer, and even in smoothies and milkshakes. What you may not have discovered yet is that it really shines in a cocktail, with everything from vodka to bourbon.

Local bartenders know this, and most are in the process of pulling together recipes or even inventing drinks that feature the versatile cranberry in some form as a key ingredient. As the season goes on, you will likely be seeing more.

Chester's Bar and Grill has recently put together a new drink menu, and one of the offerings is a spiced cranberry sangria. A new addition for the season is a cranberry mimosa available just on Sundays. You'll also want to try the Cranberry Harvest Mule, a favorite at The Tap House.


A lot is happening at Five West and Bar with their holiday drinks. Ruark Kallinen, bar manager, has brought back an old favorite and created two new cranberry offerings.

"We always have to have The Winter Mule, that's been a favorite for a long time. It has apple-pear-ginger vodka, paired with our house-made cranberry cordial, a squeeze of fresh lime juice and topped with ginger beer."

A cranberry margarita.
Contributed / Mark Claesgens

Then there is the Bitter Ginger, new to the drink menu, which is a mixture of peach whiskey, ginger liqueur, their cranberry cordial, lime juice, angostura bitters, topped with club soda. Also new is the Cranberry Crush Margarita, which includes orange-infused tequila, Tattersall orange crema, the cranberry cordial, lime, sour agave and freshly squeezed orange juice. Customers will love the cinnamon sugar rimmed glass. In bars around town the Cosmo, the popular cranberry and vodka drink, is a perennial favorite, regardless of the season.

It's interesting to see that cranberry-alcohol pairings often focus on vodka as well as a sparkling wine, like prosecco or champagne. Simple syrups and lime are also popular additions. Orange-flavored liqueurs and grapefruit juice also pair well with cranberry juice.

The good news about this juice is when consumed on its own, no alcohol added, is that it is one of the healthiest drinks you can have with a high nutrient and antioxidant content. It's also a good source of Vitamins A and C and its myriad health benefits include assisting in digestive health, help with urinary tract infections, liver problems, the heart and it also can help boost the immune system. If it can indeed affect all those issues in a positive, healthy, way we should make it a regular in our diets, in spite of the pucker factor.

The choices of cranberry juice can throw you off and even be confusing. Take a stroll down any juice aisle and you'll see what I mean. There is pure unadulterated cranberry juice which is what it says — nothing added, just the juice. The problem is that it is very tart, a pucker factor of 100.

Then you will see Cranberry Cocktail and Cranberry Juice which offer a myriad of options. Cranberry Juice is usually labeled 100% juice, which means it contains 100% a blend of various fruit juices — cranberry, grape juice, apple juice, raspberry, strawberry, mango, and the list of fruit juice add-ins goes on. Cranberry Cocktail consists of cranberry juice but the tartness is tempered by the addition of sugar or a high-fructose corn syrup. If in doubt read the label.

The two varieties — cocktail and juice — are interchangeable in recipes as well as in cocktails. You'll also see white cranberry juice. These are simply berries that were grown on lower ends of the bush, receiving no sunlight. With the holidays here, this is a good time to experiment, not just with alcohol but with sodas and hot punches for the younger set. Added to sparkling water, 7-Up, or ginger ale, cranberry juice makes a festive, pretty holiday drink. Warmed up with some apple juice or cider added makes a perfect afternoon pick-me-up.


Cranberry margarita

2 oz. cranberry juice
1 oz. fresh lime juice
1/2 oz. triple sec or orange liqueur
1-1/2 oz. tequila

Rim a margarita glass with salt. Put ice in glass. Place ingredients in a cocktail shaker, shake twice, then pour over ice into glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Vodka cranberry

1 oz. vodka
4 oz. cranberry juice
1 lime wedge

Fill glass 2/3 full of ice. Pour in the vodka and cranberry juice. Squeeze the lime wedge lightly over the glass, then use as garnish. For a sweeter drink add two teaspoons simple syrup and stir. For an extra holiday look add a few fresh cranberries.

Cranberry bourbon cocktail

2 oz. bourbon
2 oz. cranberry juice
2 oz. orange juice

Put ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Give a quick shake, then pour into a glass filled with ice and garnish with cranberries.

Kelly's cosmo

2 oz. vodka
1 oz. Grand Marnier
1 oz. cranberry juice
1/4 oz. lime juice

Put ingredients into a shaker with ice, give a quick shake, then pour into glass. Garnish with, what else, a slice of lime.


Hot cranapple drink

1 32-oz. jar Cranapple drink
2 cups orange juice
2-3 cups water
4 sticks whole cinnamon

Mix all ingredients together in a saucepan and simmer for 1/2 hour. Serve in mugs.

Post Bulletin food writer Holly Ebel knows what’s cookin’. Send comments or story tips to .

Food for Thought - Holly Ebel column sig

Post Bulletin food writer Holly Ebel knows what’s cookin’. Send comments or story tips to
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