cranberry old fashioned in a glass

Take your favorite classic cocktail up a festive notch with this delish Cranberry Old Fashioned cocktail! A super-easy cranberry simple syrup makes this bourbon drink sweet, tart and perfect for the holidays.

Note: This post was originally published in November of 2014. We’ve since updated the recipe and the photos!

Cranberry Old Fashioned Cocktail Recipe

In our house, holidays = an excuse for fancy cocktails. And when I say fancy, I still mean easy; we aren’t making smoked elixirs and infused liqueurs or anything like that. The most we are doing here is taking 10 extra minutes to make a delicious cranberry-cinnamon simple syrup, and let me tell you it is 100% worth the time and effort. Add it to a glass with bourbon and bitters, and cheers to everything for which you’re thankful.

Here is what you can expect from this drink:

  • Your favorite cocktail with a festive twist
  • A balance of bitter, sweet, tart and fruity flavors
  • A drink that’s easy to scale for a crowd
  • A drink that’s easy to customize to your preferences and tastes
cranberry simple syrup in a jar

How to Make Cranberry Simple Syrup

The basis of this drink couldn’t be easier; you’re basically swirling bourbon, simple syrup and bitters in a glass, then adding ice. My kinda drink! But before you get to that point, we need to make the cranberry simple syrup. Good thing that’s also easy to do. Here’s how:

  • Step One: Bring the mixture to a boil. Add all the ingredients for the simple syrup (fresh cranberries, sugar, orange zest, etc.) just to a boil in a medium saucepan.
  • Step Two: Simmer the syrup. Once the mixture reaches a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved, the cranberries are bursting and the mixture is a light red color.
  • Step Three: Steep and store. After about 10 minutes of simmering, remove the saucepan from the heat. Allow the mixture to sit another 10 minutes in the saucepan to steep, then strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a lidded jar or other container.

Once the simple syrup has completely cooled, you can store it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. That’s a lot of opportunity for a holiday cocktail.

two cocktail glasses on a surface

How to Make a Cranberry Old Fashioned Your New Favorite Cocktail

If you’re already a fan of old fashioned cocktails, I have no doubt you will love this drink. That said, everyone has their preferences on sweetness/bitterness/etc., which is why I am here to offer you several ways to adapt this recipe to your tastes:

  • Add up to 1 oz more bourbon (2 oz to 3 oz total) if you love the taste of bourbon and want a stronger drink.
  • Add anywhere from 1/4 oz to 1/2 oz (or more) of the cranberry simple syrup for a sweeter cocktail
  • Use your favorite bitters! We usually use orange bitters, but our favorite choice lately has been these Old Fashioned Bitters from Dashfire.
  • Add ice, or drink it neat. Some people like ice-cold drinks, while others like to keep them undiluted. You do you!
  • Add garnishes, or leave them out. I love the added citrus flavor from a twist of orange, but feel free to keep it clean.
glass of cranberry old fashioned on a surface

More Cocktail Recipes!


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glass of cranberry old fashioned on a surface

Cranberry Old Fashioned

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 2 reviews
  • Author: Girl Versus Dough
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 mins
  • Yield: 1 cocktail 1x
  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Cook
  • Cuisine: American


Sweet, spiced, tart and delicious, you’re going to love this Old Fashioned with a cranberry twist!


Units Scale

For the cranberry simple syrup:

  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon fresh-grated orange zest

For the cocktail:

  • 2 to 3 oz bourbon
  • 1/4 to 1/2 oz cranberry simple syrup
  • 2 to 3 dashes orange bitters
  • Ice
  • Fresh cranberries and an orange twist, for garnish


1. To make the cranberry simple syrup: In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring all simple syrup ingredients to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to a simmer; cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until sugar is dissolved, cranberries have burst and mixture is very slightly thick and red in color. Remove from heat; steep mixture for another 10 minutes, then use a fine-mesh sieve to strain syrup into a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Cool completely at room temperature, then store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

2. To make one cocktail: Add bourbon, cranberry simple syrup and bitters to a cocktail glass; stir for 10 to 15 seconds, then top off with ice. Garnish with fresh cranberries and a twist of orange.