Cranberry Orange Crush Cocktail Recipe

With a beautiful color and a simple yet festive garnish, the cranberry orange crush cocktail is a refreshing take on a classic . As the holidays approach and thoughts turn to special drinks, this festive cocktail fits the bill, combining the tartness of cranberries with the sweetness of oranges for a bright and seasonal sipper.

According to recipe developer Ksenia Prints of , the cranberry orange crush feels like a tropical vacation in the midst of a blizzard. Made with vodka, orange liqueur, freshly squeezed orange juice, and cranberry juice, it offers a bright pop of color and flavor for a drink that feels at home both by the poolside and by the fireplace.

A splash of soda water lightens the mix, while a garnish of fresh cranberries and rosemary sprigs adds further aromatic notes of flavor and festivity. This easy-to-make cocktail comes together in just five minutes, but as you sip, the flavors meld for a balanced, complex drink that's perfect for relaxing on a crisp autumn evening with friends and family.

Gather the ingredients for cranberry orange crush cocktail

The cranberry orange crush cocktail calls for several ingredients that are meant to layer the drink's flavor and appearance. For the alcohol base, you will need vodka and orange liqueur. A bright citrus note is provided through freshly squeezed orange juice. Cranberry juice adds a hint of tart flavor and a lovely red hue to the drink. Soda water acts as a mixer. To give the drink a festive appearance, we garnish it with fresh cranberries, rosemary sprigs, and an orange twist, for visual appeal and an extra burst of flavor. With these ingredients on hand, you'll be ready to mix up a batch of these festive fall cocktails in mere minutes.

Step 1: Prepare the orange twist

Make an orange twist by peeling a small strip of orange peel, being careful to avoid the white pith.

Step 2: Squeeze the orange juice

Squeeze the juice from 1 fresh orange.

Step 3: Add ice to the shaker

Add ice to a shaker or small pitcher.

Step 4: Add vodka

Add 2 ounces vodka to the shaker.

Step 5: Add the orange liqueur

Add 1 ½ ounces orange liqueur to the shaker.

Step 6: Add the orange juice

Add freshly squeezed orange juice to the shaker.

Step 7: Add the cranberry juice

Add ¼ cup cranberry juice to the shaker.

Step 8: Shake or stir

Shake or stir until well combined.

Step 9: Strain into glasses

Strain into glasses with fresh ice.

Step 10: Top with soda

Top each glass with soda water.

Step 11: Make the cranberry garnish

Thread 4 fresh cranberries onto a cocktail toothpick.

Step 12: Garnish the cocktail

Garnish each glass with a cranberry toothpick, a fresh rosemary sprig, and the orange twist.

Step 13: Serve the cocktail

Serve cranberry orange crush cocktail.

Can I use a different type of alcohol instead of vodka in this cranberry orange crush cocktail?

While we use neutral-flavored  in our cranberry orange crush cocktail recipe to allow the flavors of the citrus and fruit juices to shine through, feel free to substitute a different base spirit if desired. Gin or white rum are excellent options that will give the drink subtle variations in flavor while maintaining the same overall flavor profile. Gin would introduce more botanical notes from the juniper and aromatics, whereas white rum would lend hints of sugarcane that will give the drink a more tropical feel. 

No matter which spirit you choose as the replacement for vodka, start with the same 2-ounce amount and adjust to taste if a stronger flavor is needed. The different types of alcohol have varying intensities that may require small adjustments to the other ingredients, but the overall ratios should remain the same. Remember that the goal is a balanced cocktail, so sample as you go and stop adding the spirit once the flavor combination tastes just right.

What can I substitute for orange liqueur in this cranberry orange crush if I don't have it on hand?

This drink calls for an orange liqueur such as Triple Sec or Cointreau as a counterpart to freshly squeezed orange juice. If you don't happen to have orange liqueur in your liquor cabinet but still want to make this cranberry orange crush cocktail, there are a few substitutes you can use. Limoncello or lime liqueur will provide similar bright citrus notes. Depending on the proof of the alternative alcohol, you may wish to start with 1 ounce and tweak the quantity slightly to taste. 

In a pinch, you can perfume the drink with a few drops of orange bitters, and either simply omit the liqueur or double the orange element while adding a hint of spice. No matter which citrus liqueur replacement you use, be sure to taste and re-season the cocktail as needed after mixing, as the acidity and flavor balance may need small adjustments. Finding a perfect dupe for orange liqueur's richness and balanced sweet-tart flavor can be challenging, so experiment with what you have on hand while keeping the overall recipe ratios the same.

Can I make this a non-alcoholic cranberry orange crush for guests who don't consume alcohol?

For guests who prefer to abstain from alcohol, this cranberry orange cocktail can easily be adapted into a non-alcoholic drink. Simply remove the vodka and orange liqueur from the recipe to eliminate the alcoholic components, and you will still be left with a festive blend of fresh orange juice, cranberry juice, and soda water that captures the essence of the original flavor profile. 

Once the spirits are taken out, feel free to adjust the amounts of juice and soda to fill the glass. Taste and tweak the balance as needed. The resulting drink will be a refreshing citrus cooler perfect for the whole group to enjoy — even the children will feel that they have a special holiday beverage. You can even add a few drops of orange bitters to the non-alcoholic version of the drink to give it a mysterious depth of flavor. Garnish with cranberries and rosemary as written in the recipe to maintain the festive presentation. You may also choose to use ice cubes with frozen cranberries to add more contrast of color to the drink itself.