This cranberry gin is the perfect winter liqueur. With a balance of fruit and warming spices, it is as delicious in a New Year cocktail as it is consumed as a digestif by the fire. Better still, it doesn’t take weeks to infuse!
Easy cranberry gin
My delicious festive cranberry gin tastes even better than it looks, and just look how beautiful it is with that glowing, jewel-like hue!
This cranberry gin recipe is the result of a happy accident that showed me way to make Christmas liqueurs faster and better than the traditional recipes I had used in the past.
II hadn’t managed to collect any sloes that year and was missing the sloe gin over the Christmas holidays. Wanting a seasonal warming tipple, I emptied what was left of the homemade cranberry sauce into an empty bottle, added gin and gave it a good shake. And it was really rather good.
Over the years I’ve perfected the recipe, adding spices and leaving the fruit in the gin to infuse for up to a week. I love the resulting cranberry gin, with the balancing warmth of the spice and the zesty twist of orange from the sauce. It gives the gin much greater depth than infusing raw cranberries and saves a lot of waiting.
My cranberry festive gin recipe is a lot less fuss than making the more traditional sloe gin. There’s no need to search the hedgerows for fruit, and hardly any waiting for sugar to dissolve and fruit to infuse.
Saving the extra time is important if you want your gin ready for the holidays, of course. Here in the UK, fresh cranberries are rarely available before early November. This is cutting it fine when you need a full six weeks to infuse the raw fruit ahead of Christmas.
Why make easy cranberry gin?
- It’s delicious served in many different ways
- It is very easy to make
- It looks beautiful and makes an impressive gift
- It’s practical. Make a double batch of my cranberry sauce recipe, and use one for the gin while storing the other for the Christmas roast. It will keep for weeks.
- Unlike other infusions it is FAST – ready in 4 days to a week.
Quick cranberry gin ingredients
- Gin – Don’t spoil your cranberry gin by choosing something too rough but don’t shell out for anything fancy either. Those fancy botanicals will either be lost or fight against the flavours you are going to add. I like a good dry London gin.
- Cranberry Sauce – Homemade. My cranberry sauce has tart, juicy whole cranberries and a sweet flavoured syrup with plenty of orange. When you make it, reserve a few fresh berries to freeze and use as decoration when you come to bottle the gin.
- Spices – I’ve used cardamom, cinnamon and cloves, but you can vary these. Star anise is good too, but use it sparingly.
- Fresh Cranberries (not pictured) – For presentation, when you bottle the gin
- Orange Zest – Again, for presentation, so you don’t need this until you are ready to filter and bottle. Pare off a strip from an unwaxed orange using a vegetable peeler.
How to make cranberry gin – step by step
Before you start, read my step-by-step instructions, with photos, hints and tips so you can make this perfectly every time.
Scroll down for the recipe card with quantities and more tips at the bottom of the page.
Step One – Put the cranberry sauce in a wide necked bottle, jar or preserving jar.
Step Two – Add the spices and gin. Close the lid tight and give it a quick swirl. Leave it to infuse for at least 3–4 days, preferably a week.
Helen’s Fuss Free Tip
Preserving jars with the seal and clip look great, but alcohol can leak out of the seal if you shake the jar (it can happen with jam jars too). Unless using a screw top bottle, SWIRL, rather than shake.
Step Three – After a few days any sediment will settle.
Step Four – Strain your cranberry gin. I do this using a fine sieve.
Pick out the spices from the cranberries and discard. Save the fruit for later, as this can be added to other recipes.
Step Five (optional) – For a crystal clear drink, you can now filter your cranberry gin. This is optional. I don’t bother for myself, but if I am making the gin as a gift, I will.
Filter through a coffee filter or a sieve lined with kitchen paper. It can take a good few hours.
Helen’s Fuss Free Tip
It is not essential to filter your cranberry gin, but I think that the results are well worth it. The easiest way is to use a sieve lined with kitchen paper If you plan on making lots of liqueurs that need filtering, it is worth investing in an inexpensive filter coffee cone and filters.
If you have a fancy one for your regular coffee making, then use that. Be warned, however, that filtering starts fast and then slows down to a slow drip, drip, drip and can take hours. This is best done overnight or after your last mug of coffee of the day!
Step Six – Now taste your gin! If you want to adjust your cranberry gin to make it sweeter, use a sugar syrup, which you can then add gradually until you get the desired result.
To do this, put 200 ml water in a pan with 100 g caster sugar. Heat to dissolve the sugar and then mix in a little at a time. Take care. You can always add but you can’t take away.
Step Seven – Use a funnel to bottle the cranberry gin. Drop a few whole cranberries into the bottle along with the orange zest, for an attractive finish. Then seal.
How to serve cranberry gin
- Serve it straight in a liqueur glass, either at room temperature or chilled. Remember that a little goes a long way.
- Use it for a gin and tonic. I find it better to use a conventional tonic water rather than one with lots of extra flavourings.
- Mix with lemonade or soda water for a spiked cranberry lemonade, or turn it into a cranberry gin fizz with egg white and lime juice.
- Serve with grapefruit juice for a variation on a sea breeze.
- Make a cranberry royale with champagne, prosecco or cava.
- Make a quick Cosmo by adding orange liqueur and citrus.
- Invent your own cocktail! Tell us about your creation in the comments below.
- Change the spices to suit your own taste.
- Make cranberry vodka using the same method.
- For a glamorous gift, add some edible gold leaf flakes. You only a very small pinch to create a glamorous look and a small pot will last a long time.
Store in a cool, dark, cupboard, as you would other drinks. Your cranberry gin will keep well for up to a year (if you exercise restraint!).
Hints and tips
- The cranberry gin will look prettier and pour more easily if you decant it into a bottle. You can sterilize the bottle if you prefer, but as long as it is clean there should be no real need.
- Don’t waste the soaked fruit. There are lots of ways to use this. Add it to your cranberry sauce for Christmas Day (strictly for the grown ups!), use it to top vanilla ice cream or even on porridge for a festive brunch. Add it to microwave chocolate fudge or use it in my fruit tea loaf recipe (skip the soaking in tea stage).
Cranberry gin with fresh cranberries
If you want to make this cranberry gin recipe with fresh fruit, you can but you will need more time to let it infuse.
Use 150 g sugar and 200 g fresh cranberries instead of the cranberry sauce. Pick them over to remove any fragments of stem or leaf. Either prick them with a fork or freeze and then defrost them. This will cause the skins to split, releasing the juices.
Leave your cranberry gin to infuse for 6 weeks before straining and bottling.
Best enjoyed within a year. I find flavour does diminish with time, much as it does with sloe gin.
Yes! I have used vodka in the past.
Not really – my homemade version works as it has so much cranberry syrup. Commercial cranberry sauce is just not the same.
More homemade liqueurs and infusions
- Rhubarb and ginger gin – pretty pink and so so delicious.
- Sloe Gin – this British classic is so much better when homemade.
- Toffee Vodka – this popular flavoured vodka uses just two ingredients and is so easy to make at home.
- Christmas Gin – All the flavours of a Christmas pudding makes this infusion perfect for presents.
- Christmas Vodka – rich spiced vine fruits and ready in less than a week!
- Bramble Whisky – packed with blackberries and sloes, this is an ultimate winter warmer.
Easy Cranberry Gin
- 500 ml gin
- 350 g cranberry sauce
- 2 cm cinnamon stick
- 2 cloves
- 3 cardamom pods
- 1 or 2 segments of a star anise (optional)
To serve (optional)
- 1 strip orange
- 10 cranberries
- Put the cranberry sauce into a sealable wide-necked jar. This needs to be large enough to take all the ingredients.350 g cranberry sauce
- Add the spices and gin.2 cm cinnamon stick, 2 cloves, 3 cardamom pods, 500 ml gin
- Seal and give the ingredients a good swirl. Swirl but don't shake, to avoid any spills.
- Leave to infuse for 4 days to a week
- Strain the gin. Reserve the fruit to add to other recipes and discard the whole spices.
- Filter the cranberry gin through a coffee filter (or kitchen paper in a sieve) if you prefer a clear drink. This is optional but does look good if you want to give gin as a gift.
- Pour the cranberry gin into an attractive bottle. Add the reserved cranberries and a strip of orange zest. Then seal, ready to enjoy.1 strip orange, 10 cranberries
- This recipe is 3 Weight Watchers Smart Points per portion.