Beverages and CocktailsDrinks and Desserts

How to Make a Cranberry Martini (5-Minute Recipe)

If you’ve ever browsed a cocktail menu, you might have noticed a certain similarity between the Cranberry Martini and the Cosmopolitan. Both are vibrant drinks served in those iconic cocktail glasses, begging the question – are they just different names for the same thing?

While there’s definitely some commonality, these two classic cocktails have distinct personalities. The Cosmo, a true star of the 90s, is known for its balance of tart cranberry with citrusy lime juice and orange sweetness. It’s a sweet drink, a touch sassy, perfect for sipping alongside your best girlfriends.

Cranberry Martini

The Cranberry Martini, on the other hand, dials down the sweetness in favor of showcasing bold cranberry. While the recipes can vary, it often shares some DNA with a classic dry martini. A splash of orange liqueur is still present, but this drink has a more refined vibe. Think less “Sex and The City” and more James Bond sophistication.

Why You’ll Love This!

Let’s cut to the chase: the orange cranberry flavor combo is a classic for a reason – it’s simply delicious! A Cranberry Martini delivers this perfect pairing with a festive flair, making it a fantastic holiday cocktail to get you right into the holiday spirit.

Plus, this drink is surprisingly easy to whip up. Forget about soaking cranberries in vodka (that takes way too much planning!). A great Cranberry Martini can be made in minutes, proving that fancy presentation and delicious flavor don’t have to mean less work.

Nutritional Information

NutrientAmount per Serving
Carbohydrates15-25 g

Cranberry Martini Recipe

Recipe by Whisk and NibbleCourse: DrinksCuisine: American


Prep time




Total time



This vibrant Cranberry Martini delivers a perfect balance of sweet, tart, and citrusy flavors, making it an ideal choice for holiday gatherings or sophisticated sipping.


  • A generous handful of ice cubes: Keeps the idea of “as needed” without being too specific

  • 3 ounces cranberry juice: Switches from jiggers to ounces

  • 1.5 ounces vodka: Keeps this one the same for clarity

  • 1/2 ounce orange liqueur: Stays consistent with the original

  • 1/2 ounce dry vermouth Stays consistent with the original

  • A few cranberries for garnish: Makes the garnish less precise


  • Prep work: Get your cocktail shaker and add plenty of ice. Chill those martini glasses for an extra-fancy touch (a quick stint in the freezer works wonders).
  • Combine and shake: In the shaker, combine cranberry juice, vodka, orange liqueur, such as Cointreau, for a classic and balanced cranberry martini flavor, and a splash of  vermouth. Give it a vigorous shake until the outside of the shaker is nice and frosted.
  • Serve with style: Strain the mixture into your chilled glasses. Don’t forget the garnish – a few fresh or frozen cranberries add the perfect finishing touch.


  • Sweetness: Adjust the sweetness to your liking by using more or less orange liqueur. You can also substitute a sweeter liqueur like triple sec.
  • Cranberry Juice: For the most vibrant flavor, use 100% cranberry juice without added sugar.
  • Make-Ahead Option: Combine the cranberry juice, vodka, orange liqueur, and vermouth ahead of time and store in the refrigerator. Shake with ice just before serving.
  • Variations: Experiment with flavored vodkas like citrus or vanilla for a fun twist!

How to Serve

Cranberry Martinis are incredibly versatile – their bright flavor makes them a delightful addition to any occasion. They’re a natural fit for cocktail hour, offering a refined and delicious start to a festive evening.  But don’t be afraid to think outside the box – their tartness can also be a lovely counterpoint to a rich dessert.

If you’re entertaining a crowd, why not elevate things with a martini-centric cocktail party? A big pitcher of this holiday martini, alongside other classic martini variations, will have your guests feeling extra special.  Want to really up the presentation?  Don’t forget about garnishes! Sugared cranberries are always a hit, or you could try making candied lime slices or candied orange slices recipe for a touch of gourmet flair.

Reducing Sugar with Low-Calorie Cranberry Juice

If you’re watching your sugar intake, don’t let that cranberry craving leave you feeling disappointed. There’s hope springs eternal! Opting for low-calorie cranberry juice in your martini cuts the sugar content significantly. Many popular brands use artificial sweeteners like sucralose, so be sure to check the label if you’re looking to avoid those.

For an even cleaner approach, snag a bottle of unsweetened cranberry juice. You can always sweeten things to your liking with a touch of stevia or another natural sugar substitute. And hey, if you’re feeling really ambitious, you could even try making cranberry juice from scratch!

Just remember that other ingredients matter too! Cointreau (or your preferred orange liqueur) and even orange juice often pack quite a bit of sugar, so consider those carefully when crafting your perfect, less-sweet Cranberry Martini.


Let’s shake things up a bit! Here are a few fun twists to try:

  • Cranberry Christmas Champagne Cocktail: This one’s begging for a Friday Instagram post!  Add a splash of champagne or sparkling wine to your Cranberry Martini for an extra festive and bubbly creation.
  • The “Highclere Special”: If you’re a Downton Abbey fan, channel some Crawley elegance with a Cranberry Martini variation fit for the filming site itself.  A touch of elderflower liqueur adds a lovely floral note that feels perfectly refined.
  • Mocktail Magic: Keep the festive vibe alive for everyone with an alcohol-free version. Substitute orange juice and a generous splash of cranberry juice for a vibrant mocktail. Simply omit the vodka and Cointreau, and you’ll still get that delightful cranberry goodness. Feeling adventurous? Add a splash of ginger ale and lime for a twist on a Mistletoe Margarita!

RELATED: Sangria Blanca

RELATED: Cranberry Simple Syrup

Enjoy Responsibly: A Balanced Approach

Cranberries boast a reputation for promoting urinary tract health, although more research is needed to solidify this claim. Regardless, cranberry juice is a good source of Vitamin C, an essential nutrient for immune function and overall well-being. However, it’s important to remember that this drink contains alcohol. Savor this Cranberry Martini in moderation, and be mindful that it’s not suitable for everyone. Avoid this cocktail if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, and always prioritize your health and safety. If you have concerns about alcohol consumption, Whisk and Nibble suggests you to consult a healthcare professional.


This Cranberry Martini recipe delivers the perfect balance of sweet, tart, and boozy. Its festive color and refreshing flavor make it an ideal choice for holiday gatherings or anytime you want a sophisticated cocktail with a touch of seasonal flair.


Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use flavored vodka?  

Absolutely! Flavored vodka can add a complimentary flavor kick to your Cranberry Martini. If you’ve got citrus, vanilla, or even whipped cream vodka lurking in your liquor cabinet, give it a try. Just remember, flavored vodkas often have added sweetness, so you might want to dial down any other sweeteners in your recipe.

How do you make simple syrup?

Simple syrup is a cocktail staple, and luckily, it’s incredibly easy to make. Just combine equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil until the sugar is fully dissolved. While this basic technique gives you perfectly usable simple syrup, there are nuances to explore (like infusing different flavors!). If you’d like a more in-depth guide, let me know, and I’ll be happy to provide instructions that flesh out the details!

Do I need to make the ginger simple syrup for this recipe?

While I haven’t included a ginger simple syrup recipe here, the pairing of ginger and cranberry juice can really make your cocktail sing. The original Cranberry Martini recipe often doesn’t call for it, but it’s definitely not essential. If you enjoy the spice of ginger, an infused syrup elevates things nicely.  It can be made up to one week in advance and stored, covered, in the refrigerator. If you’re in a last-minute pinch, you can substitute regular simple syrup and grate a touch of fresh ginger directly into the cocktail shaker while shaking.

What alcohol mixes with cranberry juice?

Cranberry juice is a surprisingly versatile mixer! Beyond vodka, it pairs beautifully with a variety of liquors. Try it with tequila for a tart and refreshing cranberry margarita, or add champagne for a festive cranberry mimosa.  It’s all about finding the combinations that make your tastebuds happy!

What kind of cranberry juice is good for cocktails? 

For cocktails, it’s usually best to start with cranberry juice made from 100% cranberries. Cocktails often have sugar added, so starting with unsweetened juice gives you more control over the sweetness level.  Brands like Ocean Spray are readily available in most grocery stores and work perfectly.  If you want to get fancy, you can explore more artisanal cranberry juices, just be mindful of any additional sweetener that might be included.  A squeeze of fresh lime can be a great way to add a touch of brightness that can be tailored to your personal preference, regardless of the kind of juice used.

Can you rim the glass for a cranberry martini?

Yes! A simple sugar rim adds a touch of sweetness and a festive touch to your drink. It works especially well for the holidays – try red or white sparkling sugar for extra festive shine. Simply run a lime wedge around the rim of the glass to moisten it,

What alcohol goes with cranberry juice?

Cranberry juice is a fantastic mixer! Here are a few classic and some less-conventional pairings:

  • Classic vodka: The go-to for a reason!
  • Orange Vodka: Adds a citrusy burst.
  • Tequila: For a tangy and refreshing margarita twist.
  • Mezcal: Smoky and complex.
  • Gin: Bright and botanical
  • Rhubarb gin: Adds a uniquely tart and fruity element.
  • Coconut rum: Tropical vibes.
  • Spiced rum: Warming spice notes.

What’s the difference between a cosmo and a cranberry martini?

Both cocktails feature vodka and cranberry juice, but the Cosmopolitan gets its signature flavor profile from lime juice and triple sec (orange liqueur). This makes the Cosmo a bit sweeter and more citrus-forward than a Cranberry Martini.

What is cranberry juice cocktail made of?

Cranberry juice products can be a little confusing! If a product is labeled as “100% juice,” you know you’re getting pure juice from fruits. This is the best choice for balanced cocktails, as it allows you to control sweetness.

“Cranberry juice cocktail,” on the other hand, often has added sugars, sometimes in the form of high-fructose corn syrup, making it significantly sweeter. Read labels carefully based on your desired sweetness level!

What is a vodka and cranberry drink called?

The classic combination of vodka and cranberry juice is known as a Cape Cod, or sometimes a Cape Codder. Many cocktail recipes will call for squeezing a lime wedge into the glass and dropping it into the drink as well.

What pairs with cranberry?

Cranberries shine alongside a variety of flavors! Here’s a mix of herbs and spices for inspiration:


  • Thyme (Orange): Citrusy, grassy, floral notes
  • Sage (Common): Savory, herbal, hint of menthol
  • Rosemary: Savory and herbal
  • Mexican Tarragon: Citrus and anise notes

Spices & Blends:

  • Zaatar Marjoram: Woody, floral
  • Marigold Flower: Citrusy
  • Epazote: Oregano, anise, mint, with an unusual gasoline-like aroma
  • Basil (Purple Ruffles): Cinnamon, anise, and menthol notes

Does cranberry go with whiskey?

Yes, definitely! Try a cranberry cinnamon whiskey sour for a warming cocktail perfect for the holiday season. Cranberry juice, bourbon, lemon, simple syrup, and ice shaken together with a few cinnamon sticks provides a delightful holiday twist on a classic Whiskey Sour. Cheers to the warmth of bourbon and bright cranberry flavors, especially during November!

What is the strongest martini?

Here are a few contenders for the title of strongest martini:

  • Angelo Azzurro: Gin-based, packs a serious punch
  • Angel Face: Classic gin martini with a deceptively smooth taste
  • Jack Frost Manhattan: Whiskey-forward, with a powerful kick
  • Manhattan: Classic whiskey martini with a timeless spirit

Which martini is best?

The “best” martini is entirely subjective! I recommend trying these classics for a delicious journey of discovery:

  • Espresso martini: Coffee-lovers rejoice!
  • Clementine martini: Bright and citrusy
  • Passion fruit martini: A taste of the tropics
  • Vesper martini: The original James Bond martini

Whisk and Nibble

Whisk & Nibble is a blog devoted to all things related to food - from sharing recipes for meals and drinks to highlighting the latest dessert trends and culinary lifestyle content. Visitors can find ideas and inspiration for all eating occasions while enjoying engaging writing about food culture. Whisk & Nibble aims to bring readers together over the shared joy of cooking and dining.

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