The festive liqueur is perfect for making sweet-tart cocktails to drink before, during, and after your feast. 

By Carey Jones
Updated November 20, 2018
Carey Jones

In Thanksgivings past, we’ve reached for cranberry juice or even cranberry sauce when shaking up a round of cocktails. But this year? We’ve found a cranberry liqueur we love, and we’re not looking back. We’ve long been fans of Clear Creek Distillery out in Oregon — their marionberry liqueur was a highlight of our summer. But now that November has arrived, we’re switching to their cranberry liqueur.

Like all great fruit liqueurs it tastes vividly of its starring ingredient, with a sweet-tart balance that has you puckering up a little bit — just as cranberries should. Give it a try in these three drinks, each perfectly suited to the holiday.

Easy: Cape Codder Redux

Carey Jones

A Cape Codder — or, by its more familiar name, a “vodka cran” — is a staple of bars everywhere, but we’re dressing it up a little. Here, the vibrant cranberry flavor of the liqueur is front and center, with vodka to booze it up, soda to lighten it up, and a lemon squeezed in for good measure. Drink this one all through Thanksgiving dinner; cranberry, of course, pairs with everything on the plate.

Instructions: In a tall glass with ice, combine an ounce and a half of vodka, 3/4 ounce cranberry liqueur, a quarter-ounce of simple syrup, and two ounces of club soda. Stir briefly, and garnish with a lemon wedge, squeezed into the glass before serving.

Intermediate: The Cran-Hattan

Carey Jones

Who knew — cranberry liqueur slides seamlessly into a classic Manhattan. With a good portion of the liqueur and of sweet vermouth, this is just a touch less boozy than the original, but still packs a healthy dose of bourbon. Perfect for that lull right after the meal when you’re sure you’ll never eat again. (Until pie, an hour later.)

Instructions: In a mixing glass with ice, combine an ounce and a half of bourbon, 3/4 ounce cranberry liqueur, and 3/4 ounce sweet vermouth. Add a dash of orange bitters. Stir until very well-chilled, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon peel and maybe a candied cherry.

Advanced: Apples & Cranberries

Carey Jones

We’re huge fans of applejack, the American-made apple brandy. There’s no better time to drink it than autumn — and, unsurprisingly, it pairs perfectly with cranberry. Add a little lemon and some fresh apple cider and you’ve got a juicy, refreshing crowd-pleaser of a cocktail.

Instructions: In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine an ounce and a half of applejack, 3/4 ounce cranberry liqueur, an ounce of apple cider, a quarter-ounce simple syrup and a quarter-ounce of fresh lemon juice. Shake until very well-chilled, then strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Garnish with a few thin fanned-out apple slices.