Last Updated on November 15, 2023 by Leah Hall
We love a good Old Fashioned cocktail, and this Cranberry Christmas Old Fashioned is perfect for the holidays! Cranberry Simple Syrup, Rye and bitters are a great combo!
We love a great Old Fashioned, but it is nice to occasionally mix it up with some seasonal additions. With Christmas coming up, we are embracing the Yuletide spirit and made a Christmas version of this classic Old Fashioned cocktail!
Cranberries are a classic Christmas ingredient and we always make sugared cranberries for Christmas. These cranberries are great for decorative garnishes and a special treat, plus making the sugared cranberries leaves us with an awesome cranberry syrup that just begs to be used in a cocktail.
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What is an Old Fashioned Cocktail?
We think the Old Fashioned could be called the original cocktail. We’ve talked about this in other posts before, and a “Whiskey Cocktail” was one of the first mentions of a cocktail in print in the United States in the early 1800s. It was a whiskey cocktail, made with whiskey, sugar, and bitters. This print was in a newspaper in upstate New York.
An Old Fashioned is stirred over ice to dilute it and strained into a rocks glass over a large cube of ice. In the classic recipe the Old Fashioned is garnished with an orange twist and a cocktail cherry.
We know that every whiskey drinker or cocktail fiend has their own favorite Old Fashioned recipe. We usually do high proof bourbon or rye, and we knew we wanted to do rye in this Christmas Old Fashioned. High proof is an option that is up to you, whatever puts you in a festive mood!
An Old Fashioned is usually made with bourbon, but rye whiskey or spirits like rum, Scotch, Irish whiskey or tequila can also be used. Sometimes a sugar cube is used to sweeten, but if you just want your drink, we have found the best way is simple syrup. We have a ton of delicious recipes of flavored syrups for the winter season and beyond that give different ways to make fond memories all year long with the perfect drink.
This Cranberry Old Fashioned is easy to make and we think perfect for Thanksgiving, Christmas and all parties in between. This festive twist is perfect for the holiday season and holiday celebrations. Get into the Christmas cheer for a holiday party with this holiday drink that is different than traditional cocktails around the Christmas tree.
How to Make This Christmas Old Fashioned
A great whiskey is essential to a good Old Fashioned, and in this case we started out with a rye whiskey. We used Redemption Rye in this, which is great for sipping neat, but also makes for an excellent base spirit in this Christmas Old Fashioned.
This super simple Christmas Old Fashioned cocktail combines this rye whiskey with a made-from-scratch cranberry syrup, a few smashed fresh cranberries and bitters. With an optional sugared cranberry garnish, this holiday cocktail looks as fantastic as it tastes!
Just combine the cranberry simple syrup, rye whiskey and bitters and give it a good stir together in a mixing glass or cocktail shaker with some ice. Before straining, crush a few cranberries in the old fashioned glass and top with ice cube. Pour in the chilled whiskey mixture. Garnish with an orange slice and cranberries!
We really like the way the Rye whiskey works in this drink, as it brings a warm flavor of honey, maple syrup and peppery spice. The maple flavor of course works really well at Christmas. Try some more winter flavors in these Christmas cocktails like the Cranberry Rosemary Old Fashioned, or our Pine Old Fashioned!
Cranberry Simple Syrup
We already have a great recipe for Cranberry Simple Syrup, but in this recipe, use as much (or as little) as you want for sweetness. It adds a great color, as well as flavor, perfect for a Christmas cocktail.
This makes for a great holiday cocktail presentation, to impress your guests! Just make sure to enjoy these while enjoying the season with your family and friends! Plan ahead a little bit and make the syrup as a make ahead option so you can make these all Christmas season. So add these to your Christmas traditions while playing Christmas music, maybe even Christmas morning!
What Ingredients are Needed for the Christmas Old Fashioned?
- Cranberry Simple Syrup – in this particular Christmas Old Fashioned recipe, you can use as much or as little syrup as you like. We use more for ourselves, as we love the crushed cranberries in this too, which adds a little bit of sour and bitter to the cocktail, so we add a little more simple syrup to balance it, but feel free to play with the amount. Use .25 oz – 1 oz and see what you like. Plus, the color is so fun! This syrup makes for perfect gifts too, hint hint!
- Rye Whiskey – Rye whiskey is of course different across brands, but the majority will add some fruit flavor, some smokiness and spices to whatever cocktail you are using it in. Great for winter drinks! Some great choices are High West Rendezvous Rye, Knob Creek or George Dickel.
- Angostura Bitters – we always call bitters our salt and pepper in drinks, and just plain Angostura bitters are a win here, to let the cranberry flavor shine. It takes away a bit of the sweetness and brings out the spicy nature of the rye.
- Sugar Rim – optional, but we love the dash of whimsy and sparkle it gives the cocktail. If you don’t want it sweet, feel free to leave it off, or only do half the glass for effect. It’s like a winter dusting of snow on top, and we use some cranberry simple syrup and then dip the glass in sugar for the rim. Perfect addition to feel festive. Or, use sugared cranberries too (more info below).
- Orange Slice – Again, optional, but it adds a great nose when drinking the cocktail, and as the cocktail warms, adds some great citrus flavor to the drink.
- Cranberries – we press down on (not crush) 3-5 cranberries at the bottom of the glass before pouring in the liquid in this cocktail. This adds some bitterness and sourness to the cocktail, plus some fun berries in the cocktail! Also – feel free to add some sugared cranberries as garnish if you would like!
Tips & Tricks
- Cranberry Syrup – you can make a big batch of cranberry simple syrup a week or so before the holiday. When it is time to serve, you already have the most important ingredient already made. Easy and festive! Or, use our Spiced Cranberry Syrup instead for an even more festive cocktail for the time of year!
- No Sugar – if you want a low carb or “healthier” cocktail, make a cranberry simple syrup with stevia or splenda. Just sub in the sugar substitute for sugar in the recipe (or less if you want it less sweet).
- Whiskey – Again, we used a rye whiskey in this Christmas Old Fashioned. But, to switch it up, a bourbon or rye finished in a port, sherry or rum cask would be LOVELY in a Christmas cocktail like this one. Or, use a good quality bourbon that you enjoy and can get at your local grocery store!
- Glassware – obviously a rocks glass is the best choice for an Old Fashioned. We have some great options for you at Happy Hour Vintage!
- Bitters – We used Angostura bitters in this. But, if you want to switch up the flavor a bit, try orange bitters or even a cardamom bitters for extra flavor.
- Garnish – for an extra festive garnish, place a few sugared cranberries on a cocktail pick. Or, just plain cranberries. Place rosemary sprigs in the glass, an orange peel instead of orange slice, apple slice, cinnamon sticks or pine tree stirrer. Just make it festive and fun!
- Ice – You know our love of clear ice. So of course in an Old Fashioned, we suggest using a large square or circular ice cube for this cocktail instead regular ice cubes. Not only does it look cool, but it melts slower. But, regular ice cubes are ok here too, use what you have.
- Chilling the Cocktail – A Christmas Old Fashioned should be well stirred and chilled in a mixing glass with a long bar spoon. Then pour it into the glass with your large ice cube. Generally stir for around 30 seconds. It helps dilute and chill it.
- What to Serve it With – we recommend our Holiday Berry Bites, Holiday Pretzel Bites, Sweet Potato Guacamole Bacon Bites, Cherry Crostini, Candy Cane Skillet S’mores, or Roasted Grapes.
Other Christmas Cocktail Recipes
- Yule Mule
- Sparkling Pine Cranberry Mocktail
- Cranberry Orange Shrub
- German Fire Punch
- Cranberry Red Hound
- Hot Gin Toddy
- Cranberry Non Alcoholic Mule
- Slow Cooker Mulled Cranberry Wine
- Grinch Cocktail
- Holiday Berry Sparkler
- Peppermint Punch
- Holiday Ginger Flip
- Blood Orange Sangria
- Holiday Honey Punch
- Non Alcoholic Mulled Wine
- Bourbon Maple Eggnog
- Gingerbread G & T
- Eggnog White Russian
- Mrs Claus Cocktail
- Winter Whiskey Sour
- Spiced Gin Punch
- Tom & Jerry
- Salted Butterscotch Eggnog
- Peanut Butter and Jelly Old Fashioned
- Rosemary’s Pear
- Cranberry Aperol Spritz
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Like this recipe? Try these below, too!
Other Holiday Old Fashioned Recipes
- Sugar Plum Tequila Old Fashioned – SpiritedLA
- Holiday Old Fashioned – Just a Little Bite
- Browned Butter Old Fashioned
- Winter Spiced Old Fashioned – Spoon Fork Bacon
- Spiced Rye Old Fashioned
Other Cranberry Cocktails
- Cranberry Mulled Wine – Swanky Recipes
- Mistletoe Martini
- Coconut Cranberry Punch – Craft and Cocktails
- Cranberry Negroni
- Smoky Cranberry Cocktail
An orange and cranberry holiday version of the classic Old Fashioned cocktail.
Cranberry Old Fashioned
- sugar, for rim
- 3-5 cranberries
- 2 ounces Rye Whiskey
- .25 ounce to 1 ounce cranberry simple syrup
- 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
- orange slice
If desired, rim glass with sugar, using the cranberry simple syrup to help the sugar slick.
Place 3-5 cranberries into glass, and press down (crush, don't muddle) the cranberries in the glass.
Add ice ball or square to glass.
Add rye whiskey, simple syrup and bitters to mixing glass. Add ice.
Stir until chillled, about 30 seconds.
Strain into glass rimmed with sugar. Garnish with orange slice and sugared cranberries if desired.
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Angostura Bitters Set
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 189Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 3mgCarbohydrates: 16.6gFiber: 0.7gSugar: 15.7gProtein: 0.2g
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Check out some other Christmas recipes below.
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