Holiday Cordials and Cocktails

The first of my Cranberry Liqueur was ready on Sunday and I was very excited to see how my spice experiment worked out, plus try some new and old cocktail recipes featuring the liqueur that you can make or share with your gift. Here’s how it all went:

Cover a fine sieve with cheesecloth and place over a large bowl, then pour in the mixture carefully.

It’s time to strain and bottle the first two batches of the Cranberry Liqueur that I made 3 weeks ago, and it’s quite easy to do. All you need is a big bowl, your little bottles all washed and ready to go, a fine sieve and some cheesecloth to line it with, and I find that a funnel is quite helpful for getting the liquid into bottle rather than on your countertop. Open the sealed liqueur jars and pour the contents carefully through the cheesecloth to strain out the solids. I gather the cheesecloth and squeeze carefully to extract as much of the goodness as I can, then discard the solids. Put your jewel-colored liquid into clean bottles, cap them or cork them and, voilà, your good to go for one year (if it lasts that long)! I’ll finish my gift bottles by tying on a labeled tag with some raffia, or possibly make a labeled and rolled recipe or uses for scroll, and you should be sure to give the bottling date, storage info and use by date.

After straining off the solids, ladle the liqueur into clean bottles using a funnel.

And now to how it all tastes. First off, I thought I was being so bold with the orange spice variation that I concocted, that I became cautious and only made one batch. TA DA! It’s a better sipping liqueur than the original recipe! So good, in fact, that I’m going to take my last bag of cranberries and make another batch of it just to winter us through. The cranberry orange version without the spice won’t be ready until next weekend, but given that the spiced version had orange in it, I know it will be good.

After decanting and sipping to taste test the batches—and the primary function of this is as a sipping liqueur—we had to try some in a cocktail. For the purpose of using this as an ingredient in any of the cocktail ideas below, I’d recommend either the plain or cran-orange version. The spiced one is lovely, but probably needs a different approach to mix it…I’m thinking bourbon or rye, but will have to experiment. It’s so good by itself that mixing may never happen at our house.

Here’s the cocktail we had tonight, the Christmas Sunrise, along with other fun ideas that we, and friends, have come up with over the last couple of years of making this. I hope that you, and the recipients of your gift liqueur, will enjoy it. Cheers to you all!

This is the Christmas Dawn cocktail, a lovely way to toast the holiday!

Christmas Dawn

Per serving:
1/2 jigger Cranberry liqueur
1 Tablespoon fresh orange juice
Chilled champagne
A cranberry for garnish

Place the liqueur, then the orange juice into a champagne flute. Fill the glass with champagne and garnish with the cranberry.

Cran Royale

Per Serving:
2 Tablespoons Cranberry liqueur
Chilled Dry Prosecco

Put the liqueur into a champagne glass and fill with the prosecco. Toast and enjoy.

The Cranmopolitan

Per Serving:
Combine 1 oz. vodka, 1/2 oz. cranberry liqueur, 1/2 oz. triple sec, 1/2 oz. fresh lime juice in a cocktail shaker with crushed ice. Shake, then strain and serve like a martini in a martini glass with a thin slice of lime floating on top.

The Cranurism

Per Serving:
Combine 1 jigger of tequila, 1/2 jigger cranberry liqueur, 1/2 jigger triple sec, and a gentle squeeze of lime in a cocktail shaker with crushed ice. Shake and strain into a low ball glass. Flame a small strip of orange zest over the glass (or you can just rub the rim with the zest strip without flaming if you like) and then garnish with the zest. Stay home.


19 thoughts on “Holiday Cordials and Cocktails

    • And thank you so much for visiting today, Cecilia. Wikipedia says the origins of the word are unknown but sites the earliest definition as “Cocktail is a stimulating liquor composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters…it renders the heart stout and bold, at the same time that it fuddles the head.” Sounds rather rooster tail-ish to me!


    • Thanks Sharyn! We have a friend named David who is an amateur mixologist and, upon gifting him with the first bottle, challenged him to come up with a new cocktail. At a party where he featured said cocktail, a group of friends all sampled the creation and started the naming process…Cranurism was unanimous…and the cocktail is aptly named!


    • The Christmas Dawn was inspired by something I heard on NPR the other day…a different take on something Nigella Lawson was doing. We like this drink a lot and had two of them apiece! Thanks for the compliment on the bottles…I have a local source for those, but they come from Italy originally.


  1. What a beautiful gift and one that people eagerly wait for, I’m sure. The color is just great. And the best part is that I have a lonely bag of cranberries in the crisper.


    • It’s really fun and easy to make Stephanie, and thanks for your compliments and for visiting! And the color is so festive…but so is the taste. You should give it a try! I’m going to see what you’re up to right now.


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