Cranberry Cocktails

This cranberry cocktail is a swirl of favorite flavors: maple syrup, brown sugar, vanilla, and red wine. Serve it with a stirrer beaded with poached cranberries. Our Santa Swizzle Sticks clip art is affixed to a sphere of honeycomb paper and topped with his signature hat.

  • Yield: Makes 4
Cranberry Cocktails


  • 2 cups fresh or thawed frozen cranberries
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 cups dry red wine, such as Pinot Noir
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
  • Thin strips of zest from 1/2 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons pink peppercorns, crushed
  • Pinch of coarse salt
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups seltzer


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put cranberries into a large, high-sided skillet; set aside. Bring syrup, wine, brown sugar, vanilla bean and seeds, lemon zest, peppercorns, and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan, whisking occasionally.

  2. Pour over cranberries. Cover tightly with foil, and bake until cranberries are soft but have not burst, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer cranberries to a bowl; cover with 1 cup cooking liquid. Let cool completely.

  3. Bring 1/2 cup cooking liquid and the granulated sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, whisking until sugar has dissolved. Reduce heat to low; simmer until liquid has reduced and barely coats the back of a spoon, about 6 minutes. Pour through a fine sieve into a medium bowl; let cool completely.

  4. Reserve 40 cranberries. Puree remaining cranberries and liquid in a blender.

  5. To serve, place 10 reserved cranberries on each of 4 decorative skewers. Pour 1/4 cup puree and 1/4 cup syrup into each of four 12-ounce glasses; stir to combine. Add skewers, and fill glasses with ice. Top with seltzer, and serve.

Cook's Notes

Syrup can be refrigerated in an airtight container until ready to use, up to 3 days.


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