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Cranberry Bourbon Cocktail

November 19, 2021 by Ginger Hultin MS RDN

Cocktails are wonderful for a variety of reasons this season: to celebrate, to connect with friends, or to wind down from a busy week as you sip and savor. Do you agree that cocktails should be designed to enjoy without guilt? I’m talking about added sugars here because I love to enjoy a good cocktail, but I find that it’s even more enjoyable when it is made with natural flavors and ingredients. That is why I came up with this Cranberry Bourbon Cocktail that has all of the flavor and less of the guilt! There is always room for cocktails in a balanced diet. 


What is Bourbon?

Bourbon is an exclusively American whiskey. In fact, there is a federal standard that prohibits calling any type of whiskey made outside of the United States bourbon. This popular, barrel-aged liquor is distilled from a mixture that must be made of at least 51% corn. So all bourbons are a type of whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon. 

In order for a whiskey to qualify as a bourbon, a few things must be true. The liquor must be made from at least 51% corn, it must be distilled at 160 proof or below, it must be stored in charred new oak barrels at 125 proof or below, and it must be free from all additives. 

So now that you know what bourbon is, you may be wondering how it tastes. Bourbon can take on several flavor profiles, but most recognizably, it takes on notes of vanilla, oak, caramel, and spice. I would love to hear what your favorite bourbon is. Leave a comment below to recommend your go-to bourbon for me and anyone else reading.

Health Benefits of Cranberries

Despite the fact that this is a cocktail recipe and not a health drink, there are plenty of health benefits offered by some of the ingredients in this Cranberry Bourbon Cocktail recipe. First up, cranberries. They provide not only a gorgeous color and delicious taste, but they also offer a wide variety of health benefits. 

Cranberries are packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, both of which may play a role in the risk reduction of cardiovascular disease and some cancers. Another great benefit of cranberries is the protective role they may play in the digestive system. This involves an area of research that is booming right now: the gut microbiome. Research shows that adding cranberries into the diet can disrupt imbalances in the gut microbiome, leading to a healthier gut and better overall health. 

It is important to note that to reap these benefits, you must eat actual cranberries or consume 100% cranberry juice. Naturally, cranberries are more on the tart side, so manufacturers may opt to add sugar to balance the flavor. Keep this in mind when you are shopping for your cranberry juice to make this Cranberry Bourbon Cocktail. The cheaper cranberry juice cocktail you find on the juice shelf is usually mostly apple juice or added sugar or syrup for the sweetness. There are other options. You’ll love real cranberry juice once you know how to use it correctly. 

Making the Cranberry Bourbon Cocktail

To get started making the cocktails, grab a shaker and your ingredients. I’ve had times where I didn’t have a shaker and in that case, I went ahead and used a thermos with a lid – it works just fine, too. However, if you do make cocktails at home or you have the desire to do more of it, be sure to pick up a metal shaker with a strainer on top. It makes the process so much easier and you’ll look cool making them, too, for your guests or yourself. 

Fill the shaker with ice then add the bourbon, cranberry juice, and orange juice. Shake until well combined, about 30 seconds until it gets really frothy. I always say that the key to making a good cocktail is ice and plenty of it. 

Fill two cocktail glasses with more ice cubes and pour the shaken mixture over them- this is where having a strainer is really helpful. 

Top each glass with a dry sparkling wine of your choice and mix. You can absolutely use champagne but generally, in blended cocktails like this one, it’s best to use regular sparkling wine because it’s less expensive and the delicate flavor notes aren’t as important. I like to enjoy champagne on its own. Here’s a post on why champagne is so special and here’s one on how to do a champagne tasting if you get the chance. 

Garnish the Cranberry Bourbon Cocktail with 3 cranberries each and a sprig of rosemary each, too, if you have it. Serve them right away and enjoy the delicious flavor profile that follows. This would be an amazing way to start your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, or to sip on for a holiday party.  

If you enjoyed this Cranberry Bourbon Cocktail and are looking for more cocktail recipes, check out my:

Healthier Creme Champagne Cocktail

Hazelnut Coffee Champagne Cocktail

Christmas Tree Pine Cordial Cocktail

Lillet Cocktail with Seltzer

Sparkling Plum Basil Cocktail

Apple Cider Wine Spritzer

Cranberry Bourbon Cocktail

Combine these warming fall flavors for a classic holiday cocktail with a healthy twist.
3.43 from 7 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer, Beverage, Beverages, cocktail
Cuisine: American, Americana
Keyword: Cranberry Bourbon Cocktail
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 2
Calories: 193kcal


  • 3 oz bourbon
  • 4 oz cranberry juice
  • 4 oz orange juice
  • 4 oz dry sparkling wine
  • 3 cups ice cubes
  • 6 fresh cranberries
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary


  • In a cocktail shaker, combine the bourbon, cranberry juice, and orange juice together over ice. Shake vigorously until the mixture is frothy, about 30 seconds.
  • Strain the mixture into two glasses filled with ice and top each with sparkling wine.
  • Garnish each glass with 3 cranberries and a sprig of rosemary.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 193kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 0g | Fat: 0g | Saturated Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 0mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 9g
Tried this recipe?Mention @champagnenutrition

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Ginger Hultin,MS, RD, CSO

Integrative nutrition specialist helping clients navigate complex health conditions to reduce inflammation and feel better.

Thanks for visiting! If you're struggling with a cancer diagnosis, autoimmune condition, gut health problems, or even a medical mystery, nutrition can make a HUGE difference in your day-to-day life. I run a virtual, concierge private practice where I partner with my clients over time to help them improve their health through nutrition. Be sure to visit the blog for easy, plant-based, anti-inflammatory recipes and our "Resources" page for a variety of self-paced programs, books, e-books, and nutrition podcast episodes.

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