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As the holidays approach, we’re elevating our drink game with this vibrant and festive cranberry orange whiskey sour. The zing of cranberries, the citrusy burst of fresh squeezed oranges, and the warmth of whiskey come together in perfect harmony, creating a cocktail that’s both refreshing and full of seasonal flavor.
Key Ingredients and Substitutions
This cocktail is very easy to make, requiring just a few simple ingredients and a cocktail shaker.
In the printable recipe below, you can find a complete list of ingredients and measurements.
- Whiskey: We used bourbon whiskey which has a sweet and smokey flavor but you can use your favorite brand of whiskey or bourbon. Normally, the better the whiskey the better the cocktail – in this case you can get away with a value brand.
- Cranberry Juice: We are using a high-quality, unsweetened cranberry juice that’s not from concentrate. This is not your everyday Ocean Spray cranberry cocktail. If you do substitute this with a cranberry cocktail, double the amount you add and you’ll probably not need any additional sweetener. The cranberry flavor won’t come through as clearly, so it may be worth a purchase of the real stuff.
- Orange Juice: Use fresh-squeezed orange juice for the best flavor. Store-bought orange juice from concentrate will also usually contain added sugar, which would make this drink too sweet.
- Simple Syrup: If you don’t have simple syrup, you can make your own by combining equal parts sugar and water in a small saucepan and heating over low heat until the sugar dissolves.
- Orange and Cranberry Bitters: To balance the sweet and sour taste of the cocktail we added a combination of orange and cranberry bitters. They give the drink a complex and complete flavor.
How to Make a Cranberry Orange Whiskey Sour
Here are the quick step-by-step instructions with visuals; you can find the full instructions with the exact ingredients in the recipe card below.
Pro-tip: This cocktail is easy to make ahead of time and can be made in batches, making it perfect for parties.
Cranberry Orange Whiskey Sour: Fill two glasses with ice cubes then shake two splashes of orange bitters and cranberry bitters into each glass over the ice. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice then add the bourbon or whiskey, cranberry juice, fresh orange juice, and simple syrup. Shake the mixture vigorously for about 15 seconds to chill the ingredients and aerate the mixture. Using a cocktail strainer, pour the mixture into the glasses over the ice. Garnish each glass with an orange slice, cranberries, and a spring of rosemary.
Recipe Tips and Notes
- You can adjust the amount of cranberry juice and orange juice to your own taste. If you prefer a sweeter cocktail, add more orange juice. If you prefer a more tart cocktail, add more real cranberry juice.
- For a more festive presentation, you can rim the glass with sugar before adding the cocktail.
Other Cocktail Recipes to Try
If you enjoy this holiday cocktail recipe, we recommend checking out some of these:
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Cranberry Orange Whiskey Sour
- 1 Cocktail Shaker
- 1 Cocktail Strainer
- 6 ounces bourbon or whiskey
- 3 ounces cranberry juice, not from concentrate
- 2 ounces orange juice, freshly squeezed
- 1 ounce simple syrup, adjust to taste
- 4 shakes of orange bitters, 2 per glass
- 4 shakes of cranberry bitters, 2 per glass
- frozen cranberries, for garnish
- orange slices, for garnish
- rosemary sprig, for garnish
- Fill two glasses with ice cubes. Shake two splashes of orange bitters and cranberry bitters of ice.
- In a shaker filled with ice, combine bourbon or whiskey, cranberry juice, fresh orange juice, and simple syrup.
- Shake the mixture vigorously for about 15 seconds to chill and aerate the ingredients.
- Strain the mixture into the glasses over the ice.
- Garnish each glass with an orange slices, cranberries, and a spring of rosemary.