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Cranberry Orange Vodka Cocktail

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This cranberry juice and orange vodka cocktail turns everything we love about cranberry sauce into a refreshing drink to enjoy at the holidays. Dress up the classic Cape Cod cocktail with some holiday flair!

cranberry orange vodka cocktail with orange twist

Cocktail with Cranberry Juice and Orange Vodka

My holiday gatherings aren’t complete without a festive drink! We are definitely a wine and beer kind of family, but I think it’s fun to kick things off with a delicious cocktail that can be enjoyed with appetizers.

The classic Thanksgiving flavor pairing — orange and cranberry — come together in a new and elevated spin on the Cape Cod (aka vodka cranberry). Orange flavored vodka, orange liqueur and cranberry juice are shaken together and strained into a pretty glass rimmed with orange-cinnamon sugar. I like to call this one ‘Thanksgiving on the Cape’!

Mix some up in a pitcher for larger gatherings or make a mocktail version for kiddos and those who would rather not imbibe!

trio of cape cods next to bowl of cranberries

Ingredients for a Cranberry Orange Vodka Cocktail

Gather your ingredients…

  • Orange flavored vodka — your favorite brand! I used Stoli for these.
  • Orange liqueur — like triple sec, or go upscale with Cointreau.
  • Fresh orange — you’ll need the zest and a few twists for garnish.
  • Fresh cranberries — for garnish.
  • Rosemary sprigs — you can use these to spear cranberries, or simply use cocktail picks. They offer an extra festive touch, though!
  • Cranberry juice — straight cranberry juice can be rather tart for this cocktail, but I recommend juice sweetened by other fruit juices, NOT added sugars (like Ocean Spray 100% Juice Cranberry).
  • Granulated sugar — to sugar the rim of your glass.
  • Cinnamon — goes into the rimming sugar.
thanksgiving on the cape cocktail next to bottles and cranberries

Orange Cinnamon Sugar Rim

If you’d like to rim your glasses with this lovely scented sugar, simply combine a 1/2 cup of sugar with the zest of one orange and a few taps of the cinnamon shaker. You can also rub a cinnamon stick over your microplane for a super fresh cinnamon scent. 

You can make this a day or two in advance and store it in an air tight container in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. It makes more than you’ll need for a few cocktails, but you can use the leftovers for your holiday baking or to sprinkle on toast or pancakes!

How to Mix a Thanksgiving on the Cape

  1. Dip the rim of your glass in simple syrup, then in the orange cinnamon sugar.
  2. Add ice to a cocktail shaker and pour in 1 ounce of orange vodka, 1/2 ounce of orange liqueur and 3 ounces of cranberry juice. Shake it up and strain into the cocktail glass. 
  3. Garnish with fresh cranberries, orange peel, a cinnamon stick, a sprig of rosemary or whatever puts you in the festive spirit.

Alcohol-Free Version

Substitute the vodka and orange liqueur with orange juice, sparkling orange beverage (like San Pellegrino Aranciata) or orange-flavored sparkling water for a less sweet version. If you use anything bubbly, stir the ingredients together instead of shaking them!

Helpful Tips for Creating a Cranberry Orange Vodka Cocktail

Start off Cold

  • Chill your liquors in the fridge or freezer; store juice in the fridge
  • Chill your cocktail glasses as well — either pop them in the fridge for a bit, or fill with ice water and dump before you pour your cocktails
  • Freeze a few cranberries to drop into the glass to help keep your drink cold.
martini glass filled with ice water

Prep Garnishes 

  • Rosemary sprigs, with the bottom leaves stripped off, make great garnish spears. If the rosemary is young and bendy, spear cranberries with a toothpick first to make it easier to thread the rosemary. You can also use a cocktail pick instead, or simply drop cranberries into the glass. 
  • Use a vegetable peeler or a citrus zester with a channel knife to create citrus curls or twists. Natural oils from the citrus add extra flavor to your drinks.
peeling an orange with a channel knife

Simple Syrup

  • Dip the rim of your glass in simple syrup to help the orange cinnamon sugar stick to the glass.
  • You don’t need much, so for a quick batch, combine 1/4 cup each of sugar and water in a microwave safe bowl. Zap it in 30 second intervals, stirring after each, until the sugar has dissolved. Allow it to cool before using.
  • Store leftover syrup in an airtight container in the fridge for about a week.

Big Batch Conversion

Use these measurements to make a pitcher of four cocktails:

  • 1/2 cup orange vodka
  • 1/4 cup orange liqueur
  • 3/4 cup cranberry juice

Enjoy Thanksgiving on the Cape with cheese + charcuterie or any holiday hors d’oeuvres. Sip slow and enjoy responsibly!

a trio of cranberry orange vodka cocktails

Raise a Glass with These Other Festive Cocktails…

cranberry orange vodka cocktail with orange twist

Cranberry Orange Vodka Cocktail

Linda Feller
This cranberry juice and orange vodka cocktail turns everything we love about cranberry sauce into a refreshing drink to enjoy at the holidays. Dress up the classic Cape Cod cocktail with some holiday flair! I like to call it Thanksgiving on the Cape!
Prep time.5 minutes
Total time.5 minutes
Course.Drinks
Cuisine.American
Number of servings.1 drink
Calories per serving.170 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients

Orange Cinnamon Sugar*

  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • zest of one orange, scrub and dry the orange before zesting
  • ground cinnamon, a few taps of the shaker, to taste

Cocktail**

  • 1 ounce orange flavored vodka
  • ½ ounce orange liqueur , like triple sec or Cointreau
  • 3 ounce cranberry juice
  • ice
  • fresh cranberries, orange peel, rosemary sprigs, for garnish
  • simple syrup***

Instructions

  • Dip the rim of your cocktail glass in simple syrup, then in the orange cinnamon sugar.
  • Add ice to a cocktail shaker, then add vodka, orange liqueur and cranberry juice. Cap it and shake to combine and chill. Strain into your glass.
  • Garnish with cranberries, orange peel, rosemary or whatever you like.

Notes

*Orange cinnamon sugar can be made a day or two in advance and stored in an air tight container in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. It makes more than you’ll need for a few cocktails, but you can use the leftovers for your holiday baking or to sprinkle on toast or pancakes, etc. 
**For an alcohol-free version, substitute the vodka and orange liqueur with orange juice, sparkling orange beverage (like San Pellegrino Aranciata) or orange-flavored sparkling water for a less sweet version.
***For a quick simple syrup, combine 1/4 cup of granulated sugar and water in a measuring cup. Microwave it in 30 second increments and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool before using.
Calorie count is approximate and will vary based on a sugar rim and ingredients chosen.

Nutrition

Calories: 170kcal
Keywords.holidays, thanksgiving, vegetarian
Did You Make This Recipe?Be sure to share a comment below!

This recipe is part of Sip + Sanity’s 2021 Thanksgiving Menu that includes recipes for brunch, cocktail hour and the main event. Check it out for make-ahead tips and the timeline!

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5 Comments

  1. I love the combination of cranberry and orange and this did not disappoint! And that orange cinnamon sugar…..*swoon*. Can’t wait to share this with the fam for Christmas!

  2. 5 stars
    Wow, this cocktail was just fabulous! The orange-sugar rim made it extra special. I got the sweetness to my exact taste by using unsweetened 100% cranberry juice and then adding simple syrup to taste (about 1 tablespoon per cocktail). I will definitely make this again!