My 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. Equally good made with gin, rather than vodka.
A Winter Brainwave
A few years on, I have refined and perfected the recipe for this lovely winter treat. This spiced cranberry and orange vodka uses cranberries, oranges and warming winter flavours of cinnamon, cloves and a hint of star anise. It makes a lovely winter digestif, perfect for sipping by the fire and a great alternative to the more traditional sloe gin. It is also good in festive cocktails. I think it would make a very welcome gift too.
Why you will love this Christmas vodka recipe
- This cranberry vodka is delicious – bright red and full of seasonal spice.
- It is so easy to make. Simply whack all the ingredients into a bottle, shake and leave for a week to 10 days, it is ready far faster than a drink like sloe gin.
- Christmas vodka makes an excellent present. Decant into a pretty bottle and add a ribbon and a label. Everyone loves homemade presents.
- It is adaptable – use fresh or frozen cranberries, vary the spices, use gin or vodka.
How to Make Christmas Spiced Cranberry and Orange Vodka
Step one – Gather your ingredients. Pick over the cranberries to remove any stray bits of stalk.
Step two – Either prick the cranberries with a fork, or freeze them to break the skins. Unlike sloe gin you really do need to prick them.
Step three – Take a clean glass screw-top or preserving jar with a wide neck to take the spices. Put in all the dry ingredients. It’s much easier to use a wide-necked jar than a bottle.
Step four – Top up with vodka (or gin) and seal tightly. Give the jar a good shake to dissolve the sugar. Store the bottle in a cool dark place where you can get to it easily.
Step five – Shake the bottle daily for the first week or so, until the sugar is thoroughly dissolved.
Step six – Separate the vodka from the fruit by pouring the drink through a muslin-lined sieve. Discard the fruit, and decant the vodka into a clean bottle. It’s easier to pour cleanly from a bottle than a jar. Enjoy!
Hints & Tips for Cranberry Vodka
- You don’t need to use premium vodka or gin to make this drink. A supermarket own brand is fine, as long as it is palatable. (We find that some of the budget options aren’t!)
- You can either prick all the cranberries with a fork, or freeze them to split the skins as they defrost.
- If you prefer a drier drink, use less sugar. Remember you can always add extra, but not take it out.
- Ideally leave to infuse for 6 weeks before straining and bottling. However, it is very drinkable after 10 days.
- Once bottled, leave for a week or so. Your vodka will become smoother with time.
- Mix up the spices to make it your way. Add more, or less, or try something different.
- Add some flakes of edible gold leaf when you bottle it for that extra touch of luxury.
- If you run out of time to make this as a present, make a presentation bottle and add a label saying when it will be ready. It will go a deep crimson within 36 hours, so it will look fabulous, even if it is not ready to drink when you hand it over.
- Save the cranberries to make a spiked cranberry sauce – strictly for the grownups!
How to Serve Cranberry Vodka
- Serve it straight up, either at room temperature or chilled.
- Use is for a vodka and tonic with a difference. It’s best to use a traditional tonic rather than one with extra flavourings here.
- Make a cranberry royale with champagne, prosecco or cava.
- Invent your own cocktail! Tell us about your creation in the comments below.
More winter cocktails and drinks
Festive Spiced Cranberry & Orange Vodka
- 200 g cranberries
- zest of 1 orange (wide strips)
- 2 cm cinnamon stick
- 2 cloves
- 2 segments of a star anise
- 150 g sugar
- 450 ml vodka
- Prick the cranberries with a fork or freeze them so the skins break.
- Place the cranberries, sugar, spices and orange zest in a wide-necked preserving jar.
- Top up with a reasonable (but not premium) vodka or dry London gin,
- Seal and give a good shake every day until the sugar has dissolved.
- Leave for at least six weeks if you can (although it is more than drinkable after 10 days); the longer the better, as the drink will become smoother with time.
- Strain and bottle. Again, the drink will become smoother if you can leave it for a few weeks.
- 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 2019.