cranberry old fashioned cocktail

Thanksgiving is T-minus three (!!!) days away and I just couldn’t leave you without a cocktail in that free hand of yours while you’re basting, baking, whisking, stirring and serving (har har). As everyone knows, the key to a delicious Thanksgiving meal is a cook with a cocktail.

Specifically, this cranberry Old-Fashioned cocktail, which is made with canned cranberry sauce, hey-o!

I know we like to remain classy folk around here, but there is one thing I have to tell you and I hope you don’t get all, to borrow a phrase from a one Billy of Wit & Vinegar, Ramona eyed about it: I really, really, ridiculously love the cranberry sauce from a can. And not just any sauce. The sauce that actually LOOKS like a can. The kind you can slice.

jellied cranberry sauce on plate

The kind that looks just like this, actually. BEHOLD.

But waitwaitwaitwait because guess what we’re gonna do with that can-shaped jelly wonder? We’re gonna make classy-folk cocktails, that’s what. Redeemed? Eh?

muddling orange in a cocktail glass

Anywho, it’s anyone’s guess as to whether the Manhattan or the Old-Fashioned reigns supreme in my book as “Favorite Cocktail” (it used to be frozen strawberry margaritas and Captain & Diets and sweet red wine blends with names like “Girl’s Night Out!” but those were dark, long-gone days), because bourbon. And while I usually don’t like to mess with an already good thing, the addition of cranberry sauce in this drink is truly something delicious. It just takes the drink from awesome to holiday awesome, ya know? Kind of like lights on a tree. Or a bow on a present. Or Grandma’s sweater with the reindeer nose that lights up red.

And it’s really simple, too, which means you can spend more time drinking it while doing your Thanksgiving duty — whether that’s the aforementioned basting/baking/whisking/stirring/serving bit or the sitting and watching the football game with a plate of appetizers on your belly part. You can even make a big batch of it for your guests ahead of time.

overhead view of cranberry old fashioned cocktail

And if you, like me, actually enjoy eating some of that canned cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving dinner (but seriously, a slice of that on top of that pumpkin pie brioche roll/baked bean casserole Sloppy Joe situation we concocted last week, UHHHHHHH YASSSSS GIMME), you can save these cocktails for after-dinner sipping, or even next-day post-Black Friday shopping crazytown-ness. Or, as my family likes to do, more sitting. It is a holiday, after all.

Humdrum canned cranberry sauce meets classy bourbon meets classic cocktail meets my mouth. And we all lived happily ever after.

cranberry old fashioned cocktail

P.S. There will not be a new post on Thursday because, duh, it’s Thanksgiving. I wish you and yours a very full, joyful, thankful holiday.

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cranberry old fashioned cocktail

Cranberry Old-Fashioned Cocktail

  • Author: Girl Versus Dough
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Total Time: 5 mins
  • Yield: 1 cocktail 1x
  • Category: Drink
  • Cuisine: American


  • 1 orange wedge
  • 3/4 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons canned jellied cranberry sauce
  • Dash Angostura bitters
  • Cubed or crushed ice
  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • Splash club soda
  • Whole fresh cranberries, for garnish (optional)


  1. In a glass, use a muddler or back of a wooden spoon to mash orange wedge, brown sugar, cranberry sauce and bitters. Fill glass with ice.
  2. Pour in bourbon and club soda. Top with cranberries for garnish, if desired.