Cranberry-Spice Cocktail


The numerous cranberries in this delicious concoction (including homemade cranberry-anise bitters) perfectly complement the hard cider and the Aperol.

Cranberry-Spice Cocktail
Photo: © Johnny Valiant
1 drink


Cranberry-Anise Bitters

  • 2 cups high-proof vodka (like Stolichnaya Blue 100 Proof)

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or thawed frozen cranberries, each pierced with a toothpick

  • 1 cup dried cranberries

  • 2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger

  • 2 star anise pods

  • 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick

  • 1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick

  • 1 teaspoon gentian root
  • 1/2 teaspoon white peppercorns

  • 2 tablespoons simple syrup (see Note)

Cranberry-Spice Cocktail

  • 1 orange wedge

  • 13 cranberries

  • Three 1-inch pieces crystallized ginger— 2 minced and 1 whole for garnish

  • 2 ounces Aperol

  • 1 ounce Lillet Blanc

  • Ice

  • 4 ounces hard cider


Make the bitters

  1. In a 1-quart glass jar, combine all of the ingredients except the syrup. Cover and shake well. Let stand in a cool, dark place for 2 weeks, shaking the jar daily.

  2. Strain the infused alcohol into a clean 1-quart glass jar through a cheesecloth-lined funnel. Squeeze any infused alcohol from the cheesecloth into the jar; reserve the solids. Strain the infused alcohol again through new cheesecloth into another clean jar to remove any remaining sediment. Cover the jar and set aside for 1 week.

  3. Meanwhile, transfer the solids to a small saucepan. Add 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes; let cool completely. Pour the liquid and solids into a clean 1-quart glass jar. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 1 week, shaking the jar once daily.

  4. Strain the water mixture through a cheesecloth-lined funnel set over a clean 1-quart glass jar; discard the solids. If necessary, strain again to remove any remaining sediment. Add the infused alcohol and the syrup. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 3 days. Pour the bitters through a cheesecloth-lined funnel or strainer and transfer to glass dasher bottles. Cover and keep in a cool, dark place.

Make the cocktail

  1. In a cocktail shaker, muddle the orange wedge with 10 of the cranberries and the minced ginger. Add the Aperol, Lillet Blanc, 4 dashes of the Cranberry-Anise bitters, and ice. Shake well. Double-strain the drink into an ice-filled Collins glass and top off with the hard cider. Garnish with the 3 remaining cranberries and the slice of ginger skewered on a toothpick.

Make ahead

The bitters can be stored at room temperature indefinitely. For best flavor, use within 1 year.


To make simple syrup, in a small saucepan, dissolve 1 cup of granulated sugar in 1 cup of water over moderate heat; for rich syrup, use 2 cups demerara or turbinado sugar and 1 cup of water. Let cool before using, and reserve the rest for another use.

You can substitute Peychaud's bitters for the Cranberry-Anise bitters.

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