Cranberry Cordial

The four amigos, all sealed up and ready for the cure.

It’s that time of year again…time to start the gift making in earnest, and for the past 2 years I’ve made batches of homemade liqueurs for friends and family, namely Cranberry and Orangecello. Decoratively bottled, handmade liqueurs make wonderful gifts, will keep at least a year (if not used up well before that) and are really fun to make.

By far and away my favorite liqueur is the Cranberry and it’s a terrific way to use this seasonal berry for something more than as a side to turkey…not that I don’t love my cranberry sauces and chutneys. Not only is this the most beautiful color when bottled, but it’s oh-so-enjoyable to sip on a cold night by the fire, is lovely drizzled over ice cream, and best of all, plays well with others to make a mean and tasty cocktail!

I’ll share some cocktail recipes when the liqueur is ready, but meanwhile here’s how you make this always welcomed gift. This recipe is from the 2008 December issue of Cooking Light and it’s a winner! This year I’m going to add a twist to it by making a double batch and putting some of my favorite flavors, orange and spice, into one of the batches…I think it will make a different and interesting liqueur! I’m adding the zest of two oranges, and in a risky last minute move, I’ve decided on these spices: a 2-inch stick of cinnamon, one whole star anise and 5 cloves (I think I’m still in the five spice frame of mind, somehow). I love anise flavored liquors and am hoping this will make a unique and tasty addition, but only time will tell. I’d recommend on your first try that you go with the straight cranberry liqueur recipe, or you can try the addition of some orange zest with no spice. I’m making myself the guinea pig, and I’ll let you know how my experiment turns out!

It takes about 3 weeks to bring this to fruition, so let’s get started.

Cranberry Liqueur (Cooking Light) Makes 4 1/2 cups

  • 2 cups sugar
    1 cup water
    1 (12-ounce) package fresh cranberries
    3 cups vodka

Combine sugar and water in a medium saucepan; cook over medium heat 5 minutes or until sugar dissolves, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and cool completely.

Place cranberries in a food processor; process 2 minutes or until finely chopped. Combine sugar mixture and cranberries in a large bowl; stir in vodka.

Pour the vodka mixture into clean jars; secure with lids. Let stand 3 weeks in a cool, dark place, shaking every other day.

Strain the cranberry mixture through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a bowl, and discard solids. Carefully pour liqueur into clean bottles or jars.

Liqueur can be stored refrigerated or at room temperature for up to a year.

Lovely cranberries go into the processor, with or without the addition of orange zest and are processed until a fine paste forms. Then the sugar syrup and the vodka are added.

Half of my batch was made according to the tried and true recipe, the other half I added orange zest and cinnamon, star anise and clove. The spiced version sure looks pretty and this will either be really good, or, well, we shall see!


22 thoughts on “Cranberry Cordial

    • True enough, but nothing ventured nothing gained, I guess! The orange spiced version smells great, but who knows how strong it will be in 3 weeks? At least I have two more bags of cranberries to make more of the “clean” version with, and for sure it is super!


  1. I am DEFINITELY trying this one.. we can have it on new years I hope!! I am not a cinammon and cloves person but the tried and true sounds just divine.. and that colour!! WOW! c


    • Thanks Karen, I appreciate your vote of confidence! We’ll see how it turns out. I have some ideas of how to use it depending on how strong it is and what spice is the most prominent. Or if the flavor is good but needs diluting, I can mix it with some of the plain cranberry liqueur. If it doesn’t work at all, I’ll admit to it here and call it a learning experience! 🙂


      • Great question, Smidge! No, you do not have to process the jars in a water bath for an alcohol product. The high proof alcohol is not conducive to growing bacteria and it actually kills bacteria. I believe this is why you can have liquor on your shelf with a screw top for a long time without cause to worry. I put my mix into clean mason jars and just screw on clean lids hand tight for the 3 week cure, then after the mixture is strained I put them in clean glass flask bottles with rubber gasket snap tops that I get from the Container Store. I have also used nice clean recycled glass decorative bottles with fresh corks. Either will work and the gasket ones are nice because if you keep the liqueur for a while it seals a bit better than a cork. Just make sure you use clean glass bottles and you’ll be fine. Thanks for asking this important question!


    • Ha, ha! I’m either inventive or destructive, John! I’ve had some really amazing cocktails from a local bartender in the past year which included handmade and creative tinctures and liqueurs made from herbs, berries and spices. We’ve already used the tried and true cranberry to make lovely cocktails and it’s my hope that the spiced version will not only be palatable, but inspiring, useful and tasty. It will be an educational endeavor if nothing else! 😉


  2. Oooh…this is something I need to do right away!! I can see these as pretty little gifts for the New Year!! Last year I did a cranberry voda…no sugar, just the cranberries and vodka steeping for 3 months. This sounds sweet and delish and I love your suggestion to add to Prosecco!


    • Do try it! I’m not overly fond of super-sweet liqueurs, but the tartness and slight bitterness of the cranberries melds nicely with the sugar and vodka. I use cane sugar because I like the flavor so much. My first two batches will be ready December 11th, and I’ll post how they look bottled and some cocktail recipes, so stay tuned!


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