If you don’t know by now, the Old Fashioned is my favorite cocktail. It’s a classic, and I can get one almost anywhere I go. It’s also a cocktail that lends itself to flavor variations pretty well. Since it’s fall, I wanted to bring some seasonal flavors to my favorite cocktail. Enter, the Cranberry Old Fashioned.
I love creating spins and variations on classic or standard cocktails. Sometimes a different flavor or twist can really bring new life to a drink. At first, just a Cranberry Old Fashioned seemed too simple, or maybe not quite exciting enough. But I told myself I was overthinking it, and cranberry paired with the other flavors of an Old Fashioned would be absolutely delicious. And I was right.
I like my Old Fashioneds extra orangey. Usually when I order one out at a bar, I ask for some level of extra orange-ness… a garnish, extra wedge in the mix, something. At home I always make my Old Fashioneds with angostura bitters and orange bitters. For this Cranberry Old Fashioned, I use all orange bitters and an orange peel garnish, and the orange and cranberry flavors are pretty perfect together. The orange is the perfect level of sweetness with the touch of tartness from the cranberry.
For this Cranberry Old Fashioned, I would pick a bourbon or whiskey that’s a little more mellow or sweet on the palate. With the tartness from the cranberry, you’ll want that mellowness or sweetness to balance it out. I wouldn’t recommend rye whiskey for this cocktail, since those tend to have more spicy notes. But if ryes are your thing, go for it! We have a variety of whiskies on our shelf right now, but for this one, I used Chattanooga Whiskey 91. It’s a reliable whiskey that works in many cocktails.
What You’ll Need to Make a Cranberry Old Fashioned
- A good whiskey
- Cranberry simple syrup
- Orange bitters
- Large ice cube or ice sphere (ice molds here)
- Rocks glass
- Bar spoon
Having a bartender kit is pretty handy, but a good ol’ spoon, measuring cup, or standard shot glass will work in a pinch. Just remember that a shot glass is 1.5 ounce, not 1 ounce, so measure accordingly!
Here’s how to make a Cranberry Old Fashioned:
First, make the cranberry simple syrup. Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk until the sugar is fully dissolved. Then add some whole cranberries, fresh if possible. Let them cook down and infuse into the simple syrup. Mash them with a fork or potato masher if needed to release more juice and flavors. When the syrup reaches your desired flavor, cut the heat, strain, and let it cool.
Next, get your rocks glass and gather your ingredients and tools. Add 1/2 ounce of the cranberry simple syrup to the glass. Then add four dashes of orange bitters.
Add 2 ounces of your whiskey. Use your bar spoon to carefully lower the large ice cube into the glass. Stir until the cocktail is chilled. You’ll feel the sides of the glass getting colder the more you stir it. Some people say to stir a specific number of times, usually around 33 times. I don’t count; I just go by feel.
Finally, when the drink is properly chilled, express an orange peel over the cocktail and rub the peel around the outer edge of the glass. Drop the peel into your glass, and enjoy your Cranberry Old Fashioned!
If you enjoy this drink, here are a few more cocktails you might enjoy, too:
- Sage Bourbon Sour
- Peach Infused Bourbon
- Spiced-Up Old Fashioned
- Blood Orange Sangria
- Hot Toddy (and more!)
Cranberry Old Fashioned
- 1/2 cup water
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup cranberries
- 2 oz good whiskey
- orange bitters
- Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk until sugar dissolves.
- Lower heat to simmer and add cranberries. Infuse syrup until it reaches your desired cranberry flavor. Mash cranberries with a fork or potato masher as needed to release more flavor.
- When cranberry syrup is ready, remove from heat, strain, and let cool until ready to use.
- To make your drink, add 1/2 ounce cranberry syrup to a rocks glass.
- Add 4 dashes orange bitters and 2 oz good whiskey.
- Add a large ice cube or ice ball. Stir until the cocktail is chilled. You'll feel it on the glass when it's properly chilled.
- Express an orange peel over the cocktail, garnish, and enjoy.
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