Holiday Cranberry Bourbon Cider

1 cocktail
20 min

This festive cranberry bourbon cider is the perfect winter cocktail for the holidays. Made with a homemade spiced cranberry syrup, whiskey bourbon, apple cider and finished with a sparkly cinnamon sugar rim.

A short cocktail glass filled with holiday cranberry bourbon cider. It's garnished with a sprig of rosemary, orange slice and cinnamon stick. It has a cinnamon sugar rim. There's a gold ornament next to the glass with sugared cranberries and whole cinnamon sticks.

Sure, you could say the side dishes and appetizers make the holiday, but what about a good cocktail recipe?

This holiday cranberry bourbon cocktail is so easy to make and very festive!

It's sure to wow your guests and have you feeling all sorts of warm and fuzzy ;).

Start with your simple homemade cranberry syrup: made with fresh cranberries, sugar, water, orange zest, whole cinnamon sticks, star anise, fresh ginger and fresh rosemary.

LOTS of holiday spice that balance the tartness from the fresh cranberries.

Just add your favorite bourbon, apple cider and a splash of bubbly water and you have yourself a delicious winter cranberry cocktail.

This recipe makes a small mason jar of the cranberry syrup so you will definitely have enough for more than one drink, or you can get creative and use it as a filling for cupcakes, cookies or tarts.

A silver sauce pan with gold handles filled with fresh cranberry syrup with whole cinnamon sticks, star anise, rosemary sprig, and ginger pieces.
Holiday Cranberry Bourbon Cider Ingredients:

  • fresh cranberries
  • water
  • granulated sugar
  • orange zest
  • rosemary sprig
  • whole cinnamon sticks
  • star anise
  • fresh ginger
  • whiskey bourbon
  • apple cider
  • sparkling water
  • cinnamon + coarse sugar for the rim

To make the spiced cranberry syrup:

  1. In a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat, combine fresh cranberries, water, granulated sugar, orange zest, rosemary sprig, whole cinnamon sticks, star anise and fresh ginger slices.
  2. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally for 10-15 minutes or until the cranberries have burst and the mixture has thickened slightly. Remove from heat. Discard the rosemary sprig, cinnamon sticks, star anise and ginger slices. Store in an airtight container.

For the cranberry bourbon cocktail:

  1. For the sugar rim: combine coarse sugar and cinnamon on a small plate. Rub the outside of your glass with honey or syrup. Place upside down on the cinnamon sugar and rotate to evenly coat.
  2. Fill the glass with ice. Add 2-3 tablespoons of the cranberry syrup. Add whiskey and apple cider. Top with sparkling water. Give it a stir.
  3. Garnish with an orange slice, sprig of rosemary and cinnamon stick.
A mason jar filled with cranberry spiced syrup for a holiday cocktail. There's a gold ornament next to the jar with a sprig of rosemary and fresh cranberries
A couple of tips for making this cranberry bourbon cider:

  • I like the texture of the cranberries in the syrup, but you can certainly strain them out if you want to. You'll definitely want to remove the other ingredients like the cinnamon sticks, star anise, ginger and rosemary.
  • You can keep the cranberry syrup in a mason jar or airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
  • Plain sparkling water works great for a little fizz. Pomegranate, ginger or cranberry flavored seltzers are also a great choice.
  • Star anise can be found where the seasonings and extracts are or you can use the link in the recipe card below to shop online.
  • The sugar rim works best with a coarse sugar such as Sugar in the Raw, Turbinado cane sugar.

Not only is this cocktail super easy to make but it looks so cute and festive for Christmas time.

The syrup can be made ahead and you can multiply the recipe to make it in a pitcher (just add the soda water as serving).

Honey, agave, pure maple syrup can all be used in place of the sugar in the syrup.

Frozen cranberries can be used, you may need to cook the syrup slightly longer until they burst open.

A cocktail glass filled with ice and cranberry bourbon cider. It's got a orange piece hanging on the side of the glass with a cinnamon stick and sprig of fresh rosemary. You can see sugared cranberries next to the glass with cinnamon sticks and a jar of cranberry syrup in the background

Christmas Eve is our holiday to host each year.

We make a true Italian feast: baked stuffed shrimp, linguini and clams, calamari, snail salad, etc.

I love having a festive drink not only to take the edge off while I host, but because it looks so pretty walking around with a holiday cocktail.

Last year I made the Gingerbread Espresso Martini which were a huge hit.

This year we will try my holiday cranberry bourbon cider.

Aside from a delicious drink, it will look so pretty in a pitcher on the middle of the table :).

For more bourbon drink recipes try:

Blackberry Rosemary Whiskey Smash

Peach Tea Bourbon Mules

DIY Infused Whiskey Bourbon

Pumpkin Spice Moscow Mule

For more holiday recipes try:

Gingerbread Espresso Martini

Red Pepper Jelly Cream Cheese Dip

Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce

If you give this recipe a try, don't forget to leave a star rating or comment below! I always love to hear your feedback.
Holiday Cranberry Bourbon Cider
Recipe details
  • 1  cocktail
  • Prep time: 5 Minutes Cook time: 15 Minutes Total time: 20 min
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Spiced Cranberry syrup:
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup sugar (honey, agave or pure maple syrup can also be used)
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 2 whole cinnamon sticks
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 1" piece ginger, cut into slices
Cranberry Bourbon Cider
  • 2 ounces whiskey bourbon
  • 2 ounces apple cider
  • sparking water, for topping
Cinnamon Sugar Rim
  • 3 tablespoons coarse sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • orange slices, cinnamon sticks and rosemary, for garnish
For the Spiced Cranberry Syrup:
In a medium saucepan combine cranberries, water, sugar, orange zest, rosemary, cinnamon sticks, star anise and ginger.
Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes until the cranberries burst and the syrup has thickened.
Remove from heat, discard the whole spices, ginger and rosemary.
For the Cranberry Bourbon Cider:
To make the sugared rim: on a small plate combine the cinnamon and sugar. Rub the cocktail glass with a thin layer of honey or syrup. Dip the glass in the cinnamon sugar.
Fill the glass with ice, add 2-3 tablespoons of the cranberry syrup, bourbon and apple cider.
Top with sparkling water and garnish with an orange slice, cinnamon stick and sprig of rosemary.
  • *Fresh or frozen cranberries can be used in this recipe
  • *If you prefer to strain the cranberries out of the syrup you can certainly do so.
  • *Leftover cranberry syrup can be stored in an air tight container or mason jar and kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
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