Festive spiced cranberry and orange vodka makes the perfect warming drink for Christmas. Beautifully balanced with winter fruit and aromatic spices, it’s a great way to impress your guests on cosy nights in. Try my simple trick to make this winning homemade winter warmer faster and better.
Easy Cranberry Vodka
This is the easiest, fastest and best cranberry vodka. It’s speeded along with my simple trick of using homemade cranberry sauce rather than infusing cranberries for weeks and weeks.
The recipe came about by happy accident one year. A very happy accident that made the best cranberry vodka I’ve ever had.
It was a rather sorry story, as a good few years back I’d failed to pick any sloes and there wasn’t any sloe gin. Wanting a seasonal warming tipple over the Christmas holidays, I dumped the remains of the cranberry sauce into an empty bottle, topped up with gin and gave it a good shake. And very good it was too.
Later, I decided to try it with vodka. Over the years I’ve perfected the recipe, adding a few spices and leaving it to infuse for a week. I am so happy with the result. It’s so much nicer than letting uncooked cranberries infuse.
My cranberry Christmas vodka is a lot easier than making sloe gin, too. There’s no need to find and pick fruit, and barely any waiting for sugar to dissolve and juice to infuse.
There is a practical reason, of course, for making this quicker version of cranberry vodka. If you use fresh cranberries, you need a good few weeks infusing. Here in the UK, fresh cranberries are not available until the start of November. This barely gives enough time to infuse it for the optimum 6 weeks for the best flavour in time for Christmas.
Why make easy cranberry vodka?
- It’s very, very easy
- It’s delicious
- 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 vodka while storing the other for the Christmas roast. It will keep for weeks.
Quick cranberry vodka ingredients
- Vodka – Get a reasonable vodka. It doesn’t need to be a premium one, but you want something reasonably smooth, so don’t get the cheapest. Supermarket regular is fine.
- Cranberry Sauce – It has to be homemade. My cranberry sauce has tart, juicy cranberries and a sweet flavoured syrup with lots of orange. When you make it, reserve a few fresh cranberries and freeze them for garnish.
- Spices – I’ve used cinnamon, cloves and cardamom, but you can vary these. A small piece of star anise is delicious, but use it sparingly.
- Fresh Cranberries (not pictured) – For presentation, when you bottle the final vodka
- Orange Zest – Again, for serving. Pare off a strip from an unwaxed orange using a vegetable peeler.
How to make cranberry vodka – 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 – Pour the cranberry sauce into a wide necked bottle, jar or preserving jar.
Step Two – Add the other ingredients. Give it a quick swirl and leave it to infuse for at least 3–4 days, and 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 the cranberry vodka. I do this through a fine sieve.
Pick out the spices from the cranberries and discard. Save the cranberries for later.
Step Five (optional) – For a crystal clear drink, you can now filter the vodka. This is an optional step. I don’t bother for myself, but if giving as a present 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 Christmas vodka, 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 – Check the flavour. If you want to adjust your cranberry vodka to make it sweeter, make a sugar syrup, which you can then add gradually until you get the desired result.
Do this by putting 200 ml water in a pan with 100 g caster sugar. Heat until the sugar dissolves 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 vodka. Drop a few whole cranberries in too, along with the orange zest, for an attractive finish. Then seal.
How to serve cranberry vodka
- Serve it straight up, either at room temperature or chilled.
- Use it for a vodka and tonic with a difference. It’s best to use a traditional tonic rather than one with extra flavourings here.
- Top up with lemonade for a spiked cranberry lemonade.
- Serve with grapefruit juice for a twist on a sea breeze.
- Make a cranberry royale with champagne, prosecco or cava.
- Invent your own cocktail! Tell us about your creation in the comments below.
- Change the spices to suit your own taste.
- Make Christmas Cranberry Gin using the same method.
- For a glamorous gift, add some edible gold leaf flakes. You only need the tiniest pinch to create a fancy effect and if you plan on making gifts year after year, it is well worth buying a small pot.
Store in a cool, dark, cupboard, as you would other spirits. This Christmas cranberry vodka will keep well for up to a year (if you let it!).
Hints and tips
- Your vodka will look prettier and pour easier if you decant it into a bottle. You can sterilize the bottle if you want, 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!) or use it to top vanilla ice cream. Add it to microwave chocolate fudge or use it in my fruit tea loaf recipe (skip the soaking in tea stage).
Cranberry vodka with fresh cranberries
If you want to make cranberry vodka with fresh cranberries, this is easy enough to to do but you will need more time before it is ready to drink.
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 vodka to infuse for 6 weeks before straining and bottling.
Best enjoyed within a year. I find flavour fades with time, as it does with sloe gin.
Yes! I have used gin in the past.
It is one of the most simple cocktails – vodka, cranberry juice, sugar and lime served over ice. Serve this cranberry vodka with some extra cranberry juice to make an extra fruity version!
not really – my homemade version works as it has so much cranberry syrup.
Festive Spiced Cranberry & Orange Vodka
- 500 ml vodka
- 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 large enough to take all the ingredients.350 g cranberry sauce
- Add the spices and vodka.2 cm cinnamon stick, 2 cloves, 3 cardamom pods, 500 ml vodka
- 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 vodka. Reserve the fruit to add to other recipes and discard the whole spices.
- Filter the cranberry vodka 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 vodka as a gift.
- Pour the vodka into an attractive bottle. Add a few whole cranberries and a strip of orange zest, and seal.1 strip orange, 10 cranberries
- This recipe is 3 Weight Watchers Smart Points per portion.
Update Notes: This recipe was originally posted in December 2011, but was rewritten and republished with new photos, step by step instructions and hints & tips in November 2021.