Cranberry Old Fashioned

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This Cranberry Old Fashioned is a delicious and beautiful cocktail recipe to celebrate the holiday season.

Cranberry Old Fashioned cocktail recipe for holiday entertaining

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a dozen times: “When hosting a gathering, have a signature cocktail.” Today I’m teaming up with Ocean Spray and their cranberry farmer Grandmas, or as they call them – CranMas, to share tips for first-time Thanksgiving hosts. Naturally, one of those tips is to create a signature cocktail. My Thanksgiving libation? A Cranberry Old Fashioned. Let’s shake one up and get this party started.

ocean spray cranberries
This post is sponsored by Ocean Spray. As always, all opinions are my own.

Back in early November, I scooted off to Rockefeller Center® in NYC for Ocean Spray’s Thanksgiving Boot Camp. (If you follow me on Instagram, you may remember seeing some live shots of the fun!) At the boot camp, I met with several CranMas to learn their foolproof tips for hosting a delicious, memorable, and stress-free holiday. Below, I’m sharing what I learned, a few hosting tips of my own, and my recipe for a Cranberry Old Fashioned.

Thanksgiving table in a cranberry bog

While in NYC, I was also invited to a Thanksgiving lunch with the CranMas and a few other folks. What made this meal incredibly special is that the table was set in a cranberry bog. Yep. There in the middle of Rockefeller Center® was a stunning dining table set in a bog filled with cranberries.

I put on my waders, hopped in, and had a magical and memorable experience. Just like Thanksgiving should be.

Michael Wurm Jr in a cranberry bog
how to decorate a thanksgiving table

While you may not be able to recreate a cranberry bog in your living room, you can host a fabulous and almost-effortless Thanksgiving.

Tips for First-Time Thanksgiving Hosts

1. Listen to Your CranMa
If this is your first-time hosting Thanksgiving, chances are you’ve watched your grandmother, mother, or someone older than you prepare the feast. Look to these experienced folks for advice and ask them to share their favorite recipes with you. Why reinvent the wheel? At its core, Thanksgiving is about family (even if your family is your friends), so use this opportunity as a way to connect and spend time with those you love.

Cranberry Simple Syrup for Cranberry Old Fashioned

2. Plan Ahead
At the Cranberry bog event, one tip I heard over and over again was to plan ahead. If possible, set the table a few days in advance. Prepare any food you can the day before. Things like casseroles, bread, desserts, and even mashed potatoes can be made the day before and warmed up for the big feast. To make it even easier on yourself, invite your guests to bring a dish, so you’re not left cooking the entire meal yourself. If you take care of the bird, they can take care of the rest.

Thankskgiving flower centerpiece

3. Let Nature Inspire Your Decor
Naturally, my favorite part of the cranberry bog experience was the decor. From the flowers to the table setting to the decorations around the rest of the space – it was magical. Based on that, I have a couple ideas to share.

First, use cranberries to decorate. Add cranberries to a wire cord then shape it into napkin rings or a candle ring. Hot glue cranberries to a foam ball to create a topiary. Layer some cranberries in a jar and pop in a candle.


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Ideas for decorating your Thanksgiving table

Next, add fruit and vegetables to your flower arrangement by skewering them with a dowel and then tucking them in like you would any other stem.

Thanksgiving Table Setting Decor Ideas

Finally, vintage is back. Hit up your local thrift store for dollies to create a vintage-inspired runner or grab a collection of vintage plates for serving.

4. Create a Separate Pre-Dinner Entertaining Area
People tend to congregate in the kitchen, which can add to the stress and confusion as you’re preparing the big meal. Set up a separate entertaining area in another room to ease congestion in the kitchen. Make a few self-serve appetizers and drinks, including a signature cocktail. Which leads me to my next tip …

5. Serve a Signature Cocktail
It’s fun to serve a unique cocktail when you’re entertaining. It gives your guests a chance to try something new, and it can be a delightful complement to your menu. I’ve recently been enjoying the classic Old Fashioned, so I thought I’d craft one inspired by the cranberry. Thus, this Cranberry Old Fashioned was born.

How to Make a Cranberry Old Fashioned:

The best recipe for an Old Fashioned
Cranberry Simple Syrup for Cranberry Old Fashioned

A cranberry simple syrup is used to cranberry-ify this drink. It’s just your usual simple syrup with the addition of cranberries. Add a quality bourbon and a splash of bitters, and you’ve got yourself a Cranberry Old Fashioned.

The best Cranberry Old Fashioned recipe


How to make the best old fashioned for the holidays

I hope you enjoyed this delicious holiday cocktail recipe! If you try my Cranberry Old Fashioned, I love love to hear! Let me know in the comments below.

The best recipe for an Old Fashioned

Cranberry Old Fashioned

This Cranberry Old Fashioned is a delicious and beautiful cocktail recipe to celebrate the holiday season.
5 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: christmas, cocktail, cranberry, holiday, old fashioned
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1 cocktail
Calories: 303kcal


  • 3 ounces quality bourbon whiskey
  • 1 ounce cranberry simple syrup*
  • 3 shakes Angostura bitters
  • Garnish with orange peel, Ocean Spray® Fresh Cranberries, and rosemary


  • In a serving glass with ice, stir together the bourbon, cranberry simple syrup, and bitters.
  • Garnish with orange peel, fresh cranberries, and rosemary.


*Cranberry Simple Syrup – In a saucepan, bring 2 cups of water, 1 cup of sugar, and one cup of fresh cranberries to a boil. Once boiling, cook for 4-5 minutes. Strain with a fine mesh sieve. Cool before serving.


Calories: 303kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Sodium: 16mg | Sugar: 21g | Iron: 1mg

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Recipe Rating


  1. A couple of us really loved this old-fashioned prepared as is but it was too strong for several others.Is there a way to top it off to make it more drinkable for those that prefer a less potent drink? Cranberry juice? soda water? Soda?

    1. I would suggest a different drink perhaps. An old fashioned is a stronger drink meant for sipping. Adding in any sort of mixer would make it a completely different drink. The only thing you could do in this case is add a bit more of the simple syrup. Cheers!

      xo Michael

  2. I am serving this tomorrow but making the simple syrup today. Should I refrigerate it overnight! Also will it be good in two days if I make today and make drink in two days?

  3. Another great thing to do with the cranberries is to coat them in fine sugar after they are strained from the simple syrup. If you plan to skewer them I would do that first before you sugar them. They look like ice has crystallized on them. Very festive!

  4. I just wanted to say – I have made this cocktail every holiday season since I first saw it, and have given the simple syrup + bourbon as Christmas gifts, and it is a huge hit. Everyone loves it and it is so festive. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Tested this recipe tonight and it’s AMAZING!! Thank you so much, and I most definitely believe in having a “signature” cocktail. (The kids get Shirley Temple Cherry Spritzers…yes, we all get our drinks, lol! Beautiful harvest ideas for all to share. Happy Thanksgiving! Amy

  6. Am I crazy? I could’ve swore I saw a recipe on here for cranberry chutney (or compote) just a few days ago and now I can’t find it anywhere.

    I’m hoping to use the cranberries I cooked for the cranberry simple syrup for this dish.

    Please help!