Let’s get festive! I’m kicking off cocktail party week on OSK with this festive, seasonally hued cranberry moscow mule. Made with a honey-sweetened fresh cranberry syrup, this easy winter cocktail is the perfect balance of spicy, tart, and sweet, and so beautiful! It’s the perfect addition to any holiday gathering.
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It’s the best week of the year – cocktail party week! All week long I’ll be sharing easy but impressive appetizers and cocktails to make your forthcoming cocktail party or holiday dinner as delicious (and pretty!) as possible. Let’s get ready to eat, drink, and be all of the merry!
First up? This cranberry moscow mule is a seasonal must-make. With the addition of a honey-sweetened cranberry syrup, the classic mule transforms into a tart and refreshing seasonal delight.
With festive red and green hues, this recipe is the perfect speciality cocktail to serve at a holiday gathering, and easily scales up for a self-serve mule station (see the notes section in the recipe card for instructions). SO FUN!
How to Make Cranberry Syrup
I first recipe tested this cranberry mule with straight up cranberry juice, but it was too tart for my taste. Cranberry syrup to the rescue! This syrup is made with fresh cranberries, honey, and a bit of water. It takes a little extra effort, but is so worth your time, and you’ll be rewarded with a perfectly balanced sweet-and-tart cocktail that your guests will clamor for.
Combine a cup of fresh cranberries with half a cup of water and a quarter cup of honey. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the cranberries fall apart – it takes about 20 minutes.
Strain the syrup through a fine mesh sieve, pressing down on the cranberries with a rubber spatula to release as much syrup as possible. The resulting syrup will be thick, with a little bit of pulp from the cranberries. It creates a lovely, velvety texture when combined with the fizzy ginger beer!
Cranberry Moscow Mule Recipe
This cranberry moscow mule is perfectly sweet-and-tart, festively hued, and a must-make seasonal cocktail for all of your holiday gatherings. Craft the mules individually, or create a large batch base so guests can make their own at a self-serve mule station.
Combine 2 ounces of vodka with 1 ounce of cranberry syrup and half an ounce of fresh squeezed lime juice in a copper mug. Stir up the base, then fill the mug half way with ice (crushed is traditional, but cubes are fine too). Top with ginger beer, then garnish with fresh cranberries, mint, and a lime wedge. Couldn’t be easier!
Ingredients and Variations
- Selecting Vodka: aim for a mid-premium brand. You don’t need to break the bank, because quality isn’t as important here as it would be with, say, a martini or another cocktail where the liquor is the primary flavor factor. But on the other hand, we’re too old for well vodka friends! I like Tito’s because it’s gluten-free, but Stoli and Absolut are also great options.
- Selecting Ginger Beer: I am by no means a ginger-beer aficionado, and I generally prefer brands that I can purchase in-store. I like Reed’s Extra Ginger Beer for a few reasons – it’s reasonably priced, available at my local grocery store, and a nice balance of tart and spicy. The internet also loves Q Ginger Beer and Spindrift Ginger Beer (which I recently saw at my local Mom’s Organic Market, and will be trying in the next batch!).
- Be sure to use fresh squeezed lime juice for best flavor.
- The cranberry syrup can be made with sugar in place of honey. Use half a cup of sugar in place of the quarter cup of honey. I tested it with both, but preferred the earthier sweetness of the honey with the ginger beer.
- The cranberry syrup can be made in advance, and then chilled. It will thicken up significantly after chilling, so thin it out with a bit of water, a tablespoon at a time, until it reaches the consistency of honey.
More Festive Holiday Cocktail Recipes
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Cranberry Moscow Mule
This cranberry moscow mule is perfectly sweet-and-tart, festively hued, and a must-make seasonal cocktail for all of your holiday gatherings! Craft the mules individually, or create a large batch base so guests can make their own at a self-serve mule station.
- 1 c fresh cranberries
- 1/2 c water
- 1/4 c honey or 1/2 c sugar
Cranberry Moscow Mule
- 2 oz vodka
- 1 oz cranberry syrup
- 1/2 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
- 6 oz ginger beer
- lime wedge for garnish
- mint sprig for garnish
- fresh cranberries for garnish
Combine the cranberries, water, and honey in a small saucepan and place over medium high heat. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce to low and simmer, stirring frequently, until the cranberries soften then fall apart.
Pour the syrup through fine mesh strainer, and press on the cranberries with a spatula to release as much syrup as possible. Set aside to cool. If the syrup thickens too much as it cools, add water, a tablespoon at a time, until the consistency resembles honey.
To make one cocktail, Combine the vodka, cranberry syrup, and lime juice in a copper mug. Stir to combine. Fill the mug halfway with crushed ice. Pour the ginger beer over the ice and stir one more. Top with additional crushed ice and garnish with a sprig of mint, lime wedge, and fresh cranberries. Serve immediately. See notes for making a large-batch moscow mule cocktail station.
The cranberry syrup makes enough for four cocktails (about half a cup of syrup).
To create large-batch cranberry moscow mules (serves 8, and scales up easily):
- Double the cranberry syrup (about 1 cup total).
- Combine the 1 cup cranberry syrup with 2 cups vodka and a 1/2 cup of lime juice in a pitcher or decanter. Stir to combine, then chill.
- Set up a beverage station with an ice bucket, shot glass, several bottles of ginger beer, mugs, and small bowls of garnishes. Instruct guests to pour three "shots" of the cranberry mule base into a glass with ice, then top with ginger beer. Stir, garnish, and serve!