Add some holiday cheer to this jolly season with this Christmas cranberry Moscow mule! For extra seasonal flavor, this holiday mule gets a double dose of cranberry with both a spiced cranberry simple syrup and cranberry juice. Your holiday celebration will feel extra merry when this cranberry mule is on the cocktail menu.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Make the most of cranberry season: Fresh cranberries make for the most wonderful simple syrup to give your Christmas cocktails a major flavor boost. But they’re only around for a short time, so this recipe is perfect for taking advantage of fresh produce at its peak.
Easy mixing: You don’t have to be a master mixologist to craft the perfect Moscow mule. Making the simple syrup is as easy as simmering a handful of ingredients, and mixing the drink only requires a little stirring.
Prepare as single drinks or a pitcher: If you’re hosting a small group, you can make fresh cranberry Moscow mules on demand, or you can prepare one big batch in a pitcher to allow your guests to serve themselves at your next Christmas gathering.
Cranberry simple syrup: As mentioned, this recipe uses my favorite spiced cranberry simple syrup, and you’re more than welcome to visit that post for a full tutorial, tips and Q&A. To make that syrup, we need fresh cranberries, water, sugar, cinnamon sticks, orange zest, ground nutmeg, ground ginger and ground cloves.
Cranberry juice: I prefer cranberry juice cocktail, like Ocean Spray, rather than 100% pure cranberry juice, which is very tart.
Vodka: Use the best vodka that fits your budget. A cocktail is only as good as its ingredients, and low-quality vodka makes for a harsh drinking experience. You don't want that at your holiday party. Here are some great vodkas for making cocktails if you need some recommendations.
Ginger beer: Make sure you pick up ginger beer rather than ginger ale. Ginger beer is much spicier and gives a classic Moscow mule its distinct flavor. While ginger ale is tasty and makes great cocktails, it would be an entirely different holiday drink. I'm partial to the Fever Tree brand, but feel free to use your favorite ginger beer.
Lime juice: You always want to use fresh lime juice instead of bottled juice. Taking a few seconds to juice a lime makes a world of difference in brightness and flavor.
How to Make Cranberry Simple Syrup
Step 1: We first need to make our spiced cranberry simple syrup. To start, we add our fresh cranberries, water, sugar, spices and the fresh orange zest to a small saucepan (photo 1) and bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat (photo 2). As the mixture heats, we occasionally stir it to help dissolve the sugar.
Step 2: After the cranberry mixture hits a boil, we reduce the heat and allow it simmer for 10 minutes (photo 3). We then completely turn off the heat and let the mixture steep for another 10 minutes.
Step 3: For our next step, we place a small bowl or measuring cup in the sink with a fine-mesh sieve on top and strain the cranberry syrup like so (photo 4). Our cranberry syrup is now ready.
How to Make Cranberry Mules
Step 1: We grab that fun copper mug and add the spiced cranberry syrup, cranberry juice, vodka, lime juice and a handful of ice (photo 5). Mule cocktails are traditionally made right in the serving mug, so we don't need to bother with a cocktail shaker here.
Step 2: Now we use a bar spoon to stir the mixture until condensation begins to form on the copper surface (photo 6). Approximately 15-20 seconds should do the trick to get a perfectly cold copper mug.
Step 3: With our Christmas mule perfectly chilled, we top the drink with that spicy ginger beer and gently stir once more to combine (photo 7).
Step 4: For a festive finishing touch, we garnish that beautiful copper cup with cranberries and a fresh sprig of rosemary (photo 8). A lime wedge or a lime wheel also make nice garnishes.
Take a sip and enjoy this holiday twist on a traditional Moscow mule.
How to Make a Big-Batch Pitcher Recipe
Like we discussed, this festive cranberry Moscow mule recipe is perfect for scaling up to make a large batch. Here’s how you can make a pitcher. You’ll find the full proportions in the notes section of the recipe card.
- Add the cranberry syrup, cranberry juice, vodka, lime juice and a handful or two of ice to a large pitcher.
- Stir for approximately 15-20 seconds to give you the dilution you’d get from making a single drink. Remove any leftover ice with a slotted spoon.
- Cover the pitcher and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. You don’t want to go longer than that because the fresh lime juice starts to lose its brightness.
- Immediately before serving, gently pour the ginger beer into the pitcher.
- You’re ready to serve! Now watch everyone fall in love with this perfect holiday cocktail and praise your mixology skills.
Copper is an excellent temperature insulator, so it keeps your drink icy cold. You'll love sipping from that oh-so frosty copper mug. Of course, you can still serve this drink without copper mugs. A double old fashioned glass or highball glass make fine substitutions.
Traditionally, ginger beer was alcoholic, but most on the market today are nonalcoholic. You don’t have to worry about your drink being too strong here.
As long as you keep it in an airtight, sterile container in the refrigerator, it should last for several weeks. When it starts to turn cloudy, it’s time to make a new batch, though I’d be surprised if it lasts that long. You’ll want to use it in all your holiday cocktails, like this cranberry whiskey sour.
You can generally find cranberries from September or October through January in the grocery store. Fortunately, fresh cranberries freeze well, so if you stock up, you can make the syrup throughout the year. Hey, who said we can't enjoy a festive cocktail in July?
When you're ready to make a new batch, there's no need to thaw the cranberries. Simply add them to the saucepan as you would with fresh berries and you're good to go.
Sure, you can use any variety of cranberry juice, such as cranberry-apple juice or cranberry-raspberry juice. Even pomegranate juice works well here.
Want to put your own spin on this drink? Here are a few ways you can add your own touch.
- Use a different spirit — white rum, dark rum, bourbon, gin and tequila all work.
- Turn it into a mocktail by using a nonalcoholic spirit or replacing the vodka with an extra splash of cranberry juice.
- Swap regular vodka for cranberry vodka. If it’s available in your area, Wild Roots makes incredible infused vodkas.
- Add a squeeze of fresh orange juice, which pairs beautifully with cranberries.
And these are just a few ideas. Let me know if you come up with another fun twist.
Juice your own limes: A craft cocktail calls for fresh lime juice. Bottled juice lacks the brightness we want in our refreshing mule.
Keep the ginger beer chilled: Room-temperature ginger beer will quickly melt the ice and give us too much dilution. It’s best to plan ahead and make sure the ginger beer has time to fully chill in the refrigerator.
Buy ripe limes: A ripe lime has a bit of give when you press your fingers into it. If the lime is hard as a rock, it’s dried out.
Be gentle when combining the ginger beer: For the second stir, use a gentle touch. Stirring too forcefully can flatten that delightful carbonation.
With the cranberry and ginger, you’ll love this festive drink on the side of my Christmas roast duck or smoked duck. The roast duck comes with a cranberry-orange glaze while the smoked duck features a spiced pomegranate glaze. That rich duck meat pairs nicely with a spice kick, and the tart cranberry adds a lovely pop.
If duck isn’t your favorite meat, my roast Christmas chicken is also a great option. Like the two duck recipes, this comes with an orange-ginger glaze that works perfectly with the cranberry.
The holiday season is about to get even more festive when you have this Christmas cranberry Moscow mule in hand. Enjoy every delicious sip of your new favorite holiday cocktail.
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Christmas Cranberry Moscow Mule
- Small saucepan
- Fine-mesh sieve
- Copper mug
- Jigger or small measuring cup
- Handheld citrus juicer
- Bar spoon
Spiced Cranberry Simple Syrup
- 2 cups fresh cranberries
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup white sugar
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg preferably freshly grated
- ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
- Pinch of ground cloves
Christmas Cranberry Moscow Mule
- 2 ounces cranberry juice cocktail
- 2 ounces vodka
- 1 ounce spiced cranberry simple syrup
- ½ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
- 6 ounces chilled ginger beer
- Cranberries for garnish, optional
- Fresh rosemary sprig for garnish, optional
Spiced Cranberry Simple Syrup
- In a small saucepan, add the cranberries, water, sugar, cinnamon sticks, orange zest, ground ginger, nutmeg and cloves over medium-high heat.
- Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and allow the mixture to steep for another 10 minutes.
- Place a bowl under a fine-mesh sieve. Strain the syrup in the fine-mesh sieve. Store the cranberry simple syrup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several weeks.
Christmas Cranberry Moscow Mule
- Add the cranberry juice, vodka, cranberry simple syrup, lime juice and a handful of ice to a copper mug.
- Using a bar spoon, stir until condensation builds on the copper mug, about 15-20 seconds.
- Pour in ginger beer. Gently stir to combine.
- If desired, garnish with cranberries and the rosemary sprig. Enjoy!
- Store the cranberry simple syrup in an airtight, sterile container in the refrigerator. It should last a few weeks.
- For the best flavor, use freshly squeezed lime juice, not bottled juice.
- Use limes that have some give when you press into them to ensure they're ripe and juicy.
- Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.