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Putting a festive spin on a classic cocktail with this Cranberry Bourbon Sour. Homemade cranberry-orange syrup, warming bourbon, fresh citrus, and sweet candied rosemary. This drink is so easy to create, simply mix everything together for a merry cocktail that’s perfectly sweetened, and so delicious! This can be made ahead of time for easy holiday entertaining. Tip? Make a large batch to serve to family and friends!

side angled photo of Cranberry Bourbon Sour

It’s finally that time of year when I can share the more “festive” holiday drinks, and I couldn’t be happier. Time might be very tight this season…since I have a bit more travel on the calendar than usual. But as crazy as it is, I’m still so excited to be cooking up new recipes and sharing these drinks.

It’s what I LOVE most.

Anyway, keeping this post short and sweet as I prefer to do with these cocktail posts. So I’m jumping right into this warming and oh so festive cranberry bourbon sour.

Today it’s all about taking a classic and making it just a touch sweeter, prettier, and well, extra delicious too! Up until just a few weeks ago I really wasn’t that familiar with a bourbon sour. It was my brother who suggested I make one. And while he said I should do it with the egg white variation, I opted to just keep things simple…ish. Plus, incorporating an egg white into my cocktails still weirds me out a bit. Maybe someday I’ll get into it, but for now, keeping it simple and easy!

candied rosemary

Here is how you make this cranberry bourbon sour.

The key to this bourbon sour is the cranberry syrup. It’s what gives this drink color, flavor, and sweetness. Instead of your basic simple syrup with sugar and water (which I always find to be so bland), I did mine with fresh cranberries, maple syrup, and orange zest. If you prefer a different flavored simple syrup, try one of these four in this past holiday post entitled, holiday gifting: homemade simple syrups.

The cranberries and maple together add to the warmth of this drink. And the orange adds that classic citrus flavor that you know and love in any classic bourbon sour.

The cranberry syrup will make enough for six drinks, so you can also make a punch sour. Or just go for a single drink and save the syrup for later. I’m giving you directions for both ways!

pouring drink into glass

Once the syrup is made, the rest is EASY.

Just shake the syrup with your favorite bourbon (I typically use Woodford or Four Roses). Then add lemon juice, cranberry juice, and a dash or two of orange bitters. Pour over ice and garnish with a thin orange slice and candied rosemary.

SIMPLE. But GOOD.

As I mentioned, you can also make this into more of a punch for serving guests. If doing so, I would probably recommend doubling the recipe, depending on how many people you plan to serve…or if you just know your crowd will be going back for seconds.

overhead photo of Cranberry Bourbon Sour

Make the drink extra pretty…

Candied rosemary…my favorite cocktail garnish to add to drinks this time of year. It’s delicious and so pretty. I love the way it sparkles like snow!

And the best part? It’s so simple to make. Just grab some fresh rosemary sprigs, dampen them with water, and cover in granulated sugar. Let the rosemary dry for an hour at room temperature. Now you have pretty, glistening rosemary that’s the perfect final touch to this bourbon sour.

And you guys? That’s kind of it for this drink. It’s a classic, but with a seasonal twist that makes it even better than the original. Cranberries are the perfect way to sweeten up this warming winter cocktail, and I love the bright-red color they add! Perfect for both Thanksgiving and Christmas entertaining.

I know this will be on repeat at my house when family arrives for the holidays. They love a straight-up bourbon drink and this is a GOOD one.

side angle close up photo of Cranberry Bourbon Sour

If you make this cranberry bourbon sour, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!

Cranberry Bourbon Sour Punch

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories Per Serving: 201 kcal

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • zest 1 large orange
  • 8 ounces (1 cup) bourbon
  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) lemon juice
  • 1 cup 100% cranberry juice
  • 3-4 dashes orange bitters
  • 1 blood orange or regular orange, sliced or regular orange, sliced

Instructions

  • 1. To make the cranberry syrup: In a medium pot, bring 1/2 cup water, the maple syrup, and cranberries to a boil over high heat. Boil 5 minutes or until the cranberries begin to burst, then remove from the heat. Stir in the orange zest. If you syrup thickens too quickly, just add additional water to thin. Let cool. If desired, strain out the cranberries.
    2. In a punch bowl, combine the cranberry syrup, bourbon, lemon juice, cranberry juice, and orange bitters. Stir to combine, chill until ready to serve. Serve over ice. Garnish with an orange slice and candied rosemary (recipe below), if desired. 

Candied Rosemary

  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Gently run rosemary sprigs under a little water to dampen and place onto the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle the rosemary with granulated sugar on all sides, making sure the rosemary is thoroughly coated in sugar. Allow to dry on the baking sheet for 1 hour. The rosemary can be made 1 day in advance and stored at room temperature.

Cranberry Bourbon Sour

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings: 1
Calories Per Serving: 201 kcal

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • zest 1 large orange
  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • 1 ounce lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup 100% cranberry juice
  • 1-2 dashes orange bitters
  • 1 blood orange or regular orange slices

Instructions

  • 1. To make the cranberry syrup: In a medium pot, bring 1/2 cup water, the maple syrup, and cranberries to a boil over high heat. Boil 5 minutes or until the cranberries begin to burst, then remove from the heat. Stir in the orange zest. Let cool.
    If desired, strain out the cranberries. This syrup makes enough for about 6 drinks.
    2. In a cocktail shaker, combine 2-3 tablespoons cranberry syrup, the bourbon, lemon juice, cranberry juice, and orange bitters. Add ice and shake. Strain into a glass. Garnish with an orange slice and candied rosemary (recipe below), if desired. 

Candied Rosemary

  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Gently run rosemary sprigs under a little water to dampen and place on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle the rosemary with granulated sugar on all sides, making sure the rosemary is thoroughly coated in sugar. Allow to dry on the baking sheet for 1 hour. The rosemary can be made 1 day in advance and stored at room temperature.

horizontal photo of Cranberry Bourbon Sour

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Wow! This drink is amazing , you’ve wisked me off to a magical land. Lol. I would never think to put rosemary and sugar together …and then into a drink. But it works. I got rave reviews.
    Thank you for the magical drink recipe.

  2. 5 stars
    I made these for my husband and me on Christmas evening. It was the perfect treat for us to enjoy by the Christmas tree once the kids hit their sugar/excitement crash. I made a pitcher, and between the two of us…….there wasn’t a drop left (one bonus of Covid Christmas is that we didn’t have anywhere to go!) This will be a new family staple. Thank you so much for your recipes- you always seem to take what’s already special and make it even more special.

    1. Hey Crystal,
      Thanks so much for giving the recipe a try, I am thrilled that it worked out for you! Happy Holidays! xTieghan

  3. would this work well with crown apple? i dont drink but im trying to gift a good christmas recipe with a bottle of crown apple.

  4. 5 stars
    This is my new favorite holiday cocktail! My entire family loved them, so much so that we have plans to make them at least 3 more times this season. We’re also planning to use this recipe to create cocktail kits, which we’ll drop off at friends houses in advance of our Zoom holiday party. When making, we strain out the cranberries from the syrup, set them aside, and save them for later use in a different blended cocktail. We also like to add a splash of seltzer to the final product. Thanks, Tieghan!

  5. 5 stars
    This simple syrup was a huge hit with my family and friends. My mom used it as a base for “tea” and heated up a couple of tablespoons with water and added vodka for a kick. My husband enjoyed it with spicy ginger beer and my girlfriend used it with a brandy old fashioned. I enjoyed with bourbon and will definitely be making this again in the future. I would recommend straining some of the cranberries if making single cocktails because it tends to clog the cocktail shaker otherwise.

  6. 5 stars
    I made this drink for thanksgiving dinner and it was a huge hit with my parents! My mom who never drinks enjoyed a glass of it..I had six😉
    I’m going to make this all year long!
    Thank you 😊

  7. Hi
    I made the syrup with cranberries still in, can I refrigerate overnight without it turning solid? Looks delic!

    1. Hey Kelly,
      That should work. I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you have any other questions. Happy Thanksgiving! xTieghan

  8. OK I need some help here because the comments are all positive, but I found this drink to be extremely sour! As in, I needed to double the syrup portion to make it palatable and even then it wasn’t sweet.
    So Tieghan, would you please clarify the cran juice? I used 100%, absolutely no sugar whatsoever, cranberry juice. Not cocktail. Gave it an outstanding color!
    And I really want to like this drink. I’m always willing to give my bourbon cocktails a second chance. 😄

    1. Hey Karen,
      So sorry you did not enjoy the recipe, it is meant to be sour:) For a less sour taste try using a cranberry juice that is not 100% cranberry. I hope this helps for next time! xTieghan

    1. Hey Bri,
      Sure you could use vodka! I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you have any other questions! xTieghan

  9. Hi there! Looks really nice and I’m looking forward to try it.
    Just a small question. As an European I can’t quite figure it out, if the recipe is for one drink or for a bowl?
    I think it is really nice, that you have added a system that converts to the metric system, but there is just a small problem with it. It does not quite make sense… Ounce converts to grams, wich is used for solid foods grains, flour etc, it would be much more helpful if it converts to liters. But it is the first time I have seen it on American recipes, so overall it is really nice that you have it on.

    1. Hi Lea! This recipe is for a punch bowl size, so for multiple drinks! I hope this turns out amazing for you! Please let me know if you have any other questions! xTieghan

    1. Hey Lauren,
      This will be good for a week or two. I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you have any other questions! xTieghan

  10. 5 stars
    Made this drinks when doing dinner night with a couple friends and everyone loved it! Delicious and easy! Excited to make it again for my sister who loves bourbon drinks!

  11. Hi! Making this for Christmas! I’m confused why the Sour requires so much more of everything than the punch which would be for more people? I put in 12 servings for each but the Sour says 6c of syrup and the Punch only calls for 1c of syrup

    1. HI! I am really sorry, but I think I am confused. Can you just double the punch recipe? Leaving the measurements for the punch below. Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you and I hope you had Merry Christmas! Sorry my response is a bit late! xTieghan

      1 cup maple syrup
      4 cups fresh cranberries
      zest 2 large oranges
      12 ounces (2 cups) bourbon
      8 ounces (1 cup) lemon juice
      2 cups 100% cranberry juice
      7-8 dashes orange bitters
      2 blood orange or regular orange, sliced or regular orange, sliced

  12. 5 stars
    So tasty and festive! I made these for my family for a pre-Christmas cocktail and they were a big hit. I love that you can make it in a big batch. Cheers!

    1. HI! You can make this up to 2 days ahead of time. Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you and happy holidays! xTieghan

    1. HI! Yes, you can make up to 2 days ahead. Directions with recipe. Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you and happy holidays! xTieghan

  13. Hi! i want to make this for an office work party but don’t have a stove, do you have an alternative way to make the cranberry syrup or can i use something else instead? thank you!

    1. Hey Leigh, try using 1/2 cup cranberry jam or cranberry sauce in place of the syrup. I think that should be great! Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you and happy holidays! xTieghan

  14. 5 stars
    This is so good! The only thing we didn’t make was the candied rosemary. But I love love loved this drink.

    Making a big batch for thanksgiving tomorrow!

  15. I made this drink using 100% pure cranberry juice and it was incredibly tart. I noticed that you can buy 100% Juice Cranberry, which contains other juices OR you can buy 100% Pure Cranberry juice. Can you elaborate on which brand and name you used in your recipe? Thanks

    1. Hey Don, I always buy 100% Pure Cranberry juice with no added ingredients. If you feel this was not sweet enough for your taste, use additional maple syrup to sweet the drink until it taste great to you. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Thank you! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!! xTieghan

  16. 5 stars
    This looks SO good and cannot wait to make it! Would the taste be completely off if I skipped the orange bitters? Or do you have a recommendation of a replacement?

    1. Hey Claire! You can easily skip the bitters. Not a huge deal at all. This will still be great! Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!! xTieghan

  17. Pretty much having a HBH themed Friendsgiving! So excited, but I can only find cranberry cocktail as opposed to 100% cranberry juice!! So excited about this recipe, what would happen if using cocktail as opposed to 100%- maybe a sweeter drink?? Just trying to decide if I need to make another stop before Friendsgiving

    1. Hi Abby! It will make it sweeter, yes. Especially with the bitters already in the recipe! I would suggest going with 100% cranberry if you have time! xTieghan

  18. Can’t wait to try! I plan to bring to my family Thanksgiving, although I’m wondering how long the mix would keep. If possible, I’m hoping to make it in advance as I have other dishes to prepare the day of as well. 🙂

    Also, hoping to make the mix and add the bourbon afterwards (this would allow any non-bourbon drinkers to add their choice of spirit). Thanks so much!

    1. Hey Susan! Frozen cranberries will be great!! Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you! xTieghan

  19. 4 stars
    Love this idea but I’m questioning the cranberry syrup water amount. I made this with the 1/2 cup water as stated in your directions and it was supper gel like vs syrup. Can you please check on the amount of water. I thinned it out with simple syrup. Enjoyed the drink just not sure what I did wrong with the syrup. Thanks

    1. Hey Donna! The measurements are correct. If the syrup thickens up too quickly, just add an additional 1/4 cup water to thin the syrup our a bit to make it more liquid. That works great! Please let me know if you have any other questions. I am glad youloved this recipe! Thank you! xTieghan

  20. Has anyone tried this warm? I was thinking about making a large batch and keeping warm in a slow cooker for Thanksgiving. Thoughts??

    1. Hey Chris! I have not made this warm before, but that sounds like a great idea to me. I am sure it will be delicious! Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you! xTieghan

  21. 5 stars
    This is my favorite new cocktail!!! I’ve been recipe testing for the holidays and tried this recently, it is SOOOO good. Definitely including it this year in the festivities.

    1. Hi Amanda, the batch measurements are given in the recipe, just scroll down and you will find them. Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you! xTieghan

  22. Do you bake the rosemary? Recipe says to let it dry — no baking necessary? Looking forward to serving this at a holiday party!

    1. Hi there! There is no need to bake the rosemary, just let it air dry. Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you! xTieghan

    1. Hi Betsy! Just simple omit the bourbon and add a splash of sparkling water. That will be great! Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you! xTieghan

  23. Teighan,
    Thank you for sharing this fun drink for the holidays or really anytime!
    I’m thinking of making gift baskets for it so I was wondering do you find that the candied rosemary keeps for a while? I’m thinking up to a few weeks stored loosely in an airtight bag? Please let me know if you have any experience with it.
    Thank you!

    1. HI! I have never stores the candied rosemary for that long. I do believe it could work well. The rosemary will dry, but I think it should hold its color. Let me know how it goes! Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you! xTieghan

  24. 4 stars
    Just found my new holiday cocktail this year! This looks and sounds amazing planning on having this with Thanksgiving dinner