How to Make a Cranberry Whiskey Sour
This Cranberry Orange Whiskey Sour bursts with the flavors of freshly squeezed orange juice,
sweet and tangy cranberry syrup, and smooth bourbon whiskey. Just in time for the holiday
season, it’s equally great as a party cocktail anytime of the year or as a refreshing summer
drink. A crowd pleasing whiskey sour recipe for any occasion, it can be mixed to make a single
cocktail or batched and kept refrigerated and ready to shake over ice, making serving a crowd a
breeze. Not only is it beautiful with even the simplest garnish, it’s so light and delicious,
everyone will be coming back for more, fair warning!
Cranberry Simple Syrup:
Homemade Cranberry Simple Syrup really makes this cocktail and would also be great in
mimosas, other cocktails, or even on top of pancakes or waffles. It’s simple to make in less than
an hour, including chilling time, and can be made with fresh or frozen cranberries. It can also
easily be multiplied, so making a big batch for yourself or for gift giving is a snap (make a batch
of this and buy a bottle of Maker’s Mark and some oranges, attach a recipe card, and you have
a fabulous handmade gift, hint hint, your friends will love you). A little bonus is the candied
cranberries left over after straining the syrup – just add a little fresh orange zest and put them to
use as well as a simple but fabulous cranberry sauce.
- What will I need to complete this recipe?
a. You will need the following ingredients:
Water, granulated sugar, fresh or frozen cranberries, Maker’s Mark bourbon,
freshly squeezed orange juice, ice for the shaker, large ice cubes, optional
garnishes made with oranges and/or cranberries
b. You will need the following supplies for simple syrup:
Heavy bottomed stainless steel saucepan, silicone spatula, fine mesh strainer,
heat proof measuring cup, sealed glass container, cocktail shaker, highball
- Storage instructions:
a. Cranberry Simple Syrup: Refrigerate immediately. After the syrup has cooled
completely, transfer to a sealed glass container and store refrigerated for up to 2
b. Cranberry Orange Whiskey Sour: If making in a larger batch a few hours ahead
of time, the ingredients may be combined and refrigerated, then measured to add
to ice in a cocktail shaker in smaller batches at time of serving. You will be lucky
to have any leftover in need of storage but if you do, it may be stored in a sealed
glass container or jar for up to 24 hours (keep in mind that the fresh squeezed
orange juice that adds so much to this recipe is best served sooner rather than
- Can I make a bigger batch of cocktails?
Yes! Cranberry Orange Whiskey Sours can be multiplied easily! See storage
instructions for making ahead of time and serving later.
- What if I don’t have a cocktail shaker?
A large mason jar with a screw lid will work in a pinch.
- Do I have to use a highball glass?
A whiskey sour is traditionally served in a highball or coupe glass, but any similar
glass will do, depending on the occasion.
- What if I don’t have Maker’s Mark bourbon? Can I substitute another kind of whiskey?
Yes, you can substitute another type of bourbon, but the flavor profile will be
different than Maker’s Mark. I would only substitute it with another bourbon
whiskey, not a scotch whisky.
- Can I use orange juice from the store instead of fresh squeezed orange juice?
Well, of course you can, but the flavor will be different and less lively. I’d highly
recommend taking the time to squeeze fresh oranges because the fresh
squeezed orange juice really makes a difference.
- How should I garnish this?
Try a simple long strip of orange peel placed directly in the glass with some
floating cranberries, curl a thin strip of orange peel around a skewer and place on
the edge of the glass, freeze quartered orange slices and cranberries in large ice
cubes ahead of time, or simply nestle a half slice of orange inside the glass and
skewer a few cranberries on a cocktail pick.
- Can I make the syrup ahead of time?
Yes! You can make the syrup and keep it refrigerated up to 2 weeks ahead of time.
- Can I make a bigger or smaller batch of syrup?
Yes! For a smaller amount of syrup, it’s safe to cut the recipe in half. Any less than that
might result in very little syrup to work with. For a larger batch of syrup, just double,
triple, or quadruple the recipe as needed.
- What if I don’t have a silicone spatula?
A silicone spatula is the best because it allows you to stir the ingredients together during
the cooking process and also scrape down the sides of the pan after the syrup has
finished cooking without becoming too hot to hold or transferring any other flavoring to
the syrup. If you only have a wooden spoon, any flavors that have been absorbed into
the wood from other dishes you may have used it for might transfer into the syrup. If you
don’t have a silicone spatula, use something else that is non-absorbent, such as a
stainless steel spoon, but be extremely careful because it may conduct heat very quickly
and become too hot to touch.
- What if I don’t have a fine mesh strainer?
Cheesecloth is a good substitute for a fine mesh strainer.
- What kind of heat-proof sealed glass container is best?
Mason jars and glass bottles with rubber stoppers both work well.
Cranberry Orange Whiskey Sour
- 1 ½ oz Maker’s Mark bourbon whiskey
- 1 oz freshly squeezed orange juice
- ½ oz cranberry syrup
- Large ice cubes
- Optional garnishes: Orange Peels Orange Slices, and Cranberries
Cranberry Simple Syrup:
- 1 ½ cups water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
Make the Cranberry Simple Syrup:
- To a clean, heavy bottomed stainless steel saucepan, add water, granulated sugar, and cranberries. Stir gently with a silicone spatula to combine.
- Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer for 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes, then use a fine mesh strainer to strain into a heat proof measuring cup. (Bonus: Reserve the cooked cranberries and stir in a little fresh orange zest to make a fabulous cranberry sauce!)
- Let the syrup cool completely in the refrigerator for another 30 minutes or until completely cooled. Transfer to a sealed glass container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
Make the Cranberry Whiskey Sour:
- Combine whiskey, freshly squeezed orange juice, and cranberry syrup in a cocktail shaker, add ice, then shake for 20 seconds.
- Immediately pour over a large ice cube in a highball glass. Garnish. Serve immediately.