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Holiday 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

Source: Martha Stewart Living, December 2006


  • 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.

Reviews Add a comment

  • MrsW1ls0n
    3 DEC, 2010
    Not to throw fuel on a fire, but heating does not remove the alcohol via evaporation (esp. not in such a short period of time). This "food myth" was featured on Food Network, and they did several controlled experiments conducted by food chemists that proved alcohol will not cook completely out of food. I wish that was the case because I'm expecting, and we're hosting a party next weekend! However, there are some great looking non-alcholic beverages on here that would be great for mixed crowds!
  • SueGomes
    24 NOV, 2010
    Actually, slingback, heating the wine after bringing it to a boil is more than enough to evaporate the alcohol.(I do know for a fact) Your attack to one of our fellow ladies is not appreciated.
  • sueanncanny
    1 JAN, 2009
    new years cocktail
  • MS10650059
    1 FEB, 2008
    Deanna, if your mixed group includes children, teetotalers, and designated drivers, you might want to rethink serving this cocktail to everyone. Heating 2 cups of wine for 10 minutes after bringing the mixture to a boil would probably not evaporate all the alcohol. Possibly not even most of it, though I'm not a food chemist and couldn't prove it.
  • deanna_munger
    3 DEC, 2007
    The wine is cooked, so this is a great option for a mixed group. It has the characteristic taste of wine but can be enjoyed by those who aren't drinking. I made it last year when my parents, who don't drink, were over. I plan to make it this year since I'm expecting. It is fun and festive!
  • titlwayh
    30 NOV, 2007
    Step 2 tells you to pour the mixture over the cranberries and BAKE for 10 mins. That's why you preheat the oven.
  • EnglishHolly
    29 NOV, 2007
    Why does the oven have to be preheated to 350 degrees when the cocktail ingredients are cooked on the stove?
  • lmdobbs3
    15 NOV, 2007
    Is this a non-alcholic drink because of the wine being cooked?