I promised to post a blog a holiday drink on Wednesday. I’m doing it now because of a bit of a deadline: this liquor is supposed to take two days to mature in the refrigerator, but I think if you work on it first thing on Wednesday, you can use it by dinner time on Thanksgiving.

You can buy cranberry-flavored vodka or you can make this cordial from scratch. I’ve done taste tests, had some impartial judges, and this homemade version is much better. You can enjoy this cordial on its own, nicely iced in a glass. Or you can use it in more advanced drinks, like a Cranberry Daiquiri — that’s a post I’ll do right after this one. That daiquiri, bright in color and flavor, truly benefits from the power of the cordial.


Yield: Makes 2 liters


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup cranberry juice
  • 24 ounces fresh cranberries, rinsed
  • 2 liters vodka


Place the sugar, water, and cranberry juice in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Once the sugar has dissolved, stir in the cranberries and reduce the heat.

Simmer, stirring regularly, until the cranberries begin to pop, 8 to 10 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat and continue to stir the cranberries, thoroughly mashing them with the spoon. Let cool.

Transfer the cooled cranberries to a large pitcher or jar with tight fitting lid.  Pour in the vodka and stir well (save the vodka bottles for storing the cordial later on).  Refrigerate for 2 days, stirring occasionally.

Pour the cranberry mixture through a colander into a large blow of second pitcher.  Using a rubber spatula, press the pulp against the sides of the colander to extract as much of the cordial as possible. Discard the pulp.

Strain the mixture a second time through a fine mesh strainer.  Using a rubber spatula, scrape the side of the strainer to allow the cordial to flow through freely.  You may see some light pulp. This will settle over time.

Pour the cordial in the reserved bottles in the store in the refrigerator.


Raising the Bar by Nick Mautone