So I’m weird about cranberry stuff.

fresh cranberry ginger vanilla margaritas (with sugared cranberries!) I

We’ve now reached that time of year where I make my annual confession of loving jellied cranberry sauce from a can.

Yes. There you go.

That’s what I love. I don’t even care for the fresh, wonderful cranberry sauces. I KNOW. I don’t know why and hate myself a little inside for it, but it is what it is and I like what I like. Give me congealed gel cranberries or give me death.

Err, something like that.

Every year I rant about cranberries, thus shocking some of you, relating to another bunch and downright offending most. Apologies. I even like my cranberry gelee with a bit of gravy.

(don’t hit me.)

fresh cranberry ginger vanilla margaritas (with sugared cranberries!) I

So since I can’t make you cranberry sauce (I mean, I can… but I won’t), I’m making you the next best thing. Cranberry margs!

Yes yes, predicatable. I’m so common.

I’ve been going a little nuts over the vanilla ginger combo ever since I created a cocktail of the same flavor for the book earlier this year. And then I did the same combo with pomegranate and ginger a few weeks ago, which was so, so good. I figured… this can all go together. All the things in my margarita!

That’s how I like it.

fresh cranberry ginger vanilla margaritas (with sugared cranberries!) I

Also, let’s discuss the festive appearance of these little cocktails. I wouldn’t say they fit the part as well as my pomegranate margaritas do (those just scream happy holidays! drink me!), but they are definitely next in line.


fresh cranberry ginger vanilla margaritas (with sugared cranberries!) I

The other thing is that I didn’t want to use any store-bought cranberry juice, so I made my own makeshift juice. If you have a juicer, you can juice your cranberries, but otherwise I puree the heck out of the little gems and strain them. They may taste slightly different to you if you’re used to cranberry cocktail. Luckily, you can add in allllll the vanilla ginger syrup that you’d like and sweeten things up again.

fresh cranberry ginger vanilla margaritas (with sugared cranberries!) I

Since I had the whole bag of cranberries and knew they wouldn’t be going into a sauce, dunked into a vat of sugar they went. These sugared cranberries remind me of the sparkly styrofoam fruit – they are super pretty, but you can actually eat them.

Well. If you want to. A few years ago I talked about that too: how cranberries themselves are darn weird.

Okay. Done hating on them. I love them now.

That might be the tequila talking.

fresh cranberry ginger vanilla margaritas (with sugared cranberries!) I


Fresh Cranberry Ginger Vanilla Margaritas with Sugared Cranberries

Yield: makes 1 margarita, is easily multiplied

Total Time: 5 minutes for the drink; 30 minutes for the prep


2 1/2 ounces fresh cranberry juice (recipe below)
2 1/2 ounces vanilla ginger syrup (recipe below)
2 ounces fresh lime juice
1 ounces Grand Marnier
1 1/2 ounces silver tequila
corase salt for glass rimming
limes for garnish and sugared cranberries to pop in drinks

for the vanilla ginger syrup
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean
1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger

for the cranberry juice
6 ounces fresh cranberries
3/4 cup water

sugared cranberries
6 ounces fresh cranberries
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup water


for the vanilla ginger syrup
Add the water and sugar to a small saucepan. Scrap the beans out of the vanilla bean and add them and the whole pod to the saucepan along with the ginger. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking until the sugar dissolves. Simmer for 1 to 2 minutes, then set it aside to cool to room temperature. If you're making this ahead of time, store it in the fridge with the vanilla bean pod and ginger still in the syrup. If you're using it as soon as it cools, remove the ginger and the pod. This will make about 1 cup of syrup - keep it stored in the fridge for a week or so.

for the cranberry juice
Add the whole cranberries and the water to a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil and let it simmer for 5 or 6 minutes, until the berries pop. Pour the berries and liquid into a blender. Blend until the cranberries break down and you have a deep red mixture. Pour it through a strainer, pressing down with a spoon to release all the juice.

To make the margaritas, rim the ridge of your glass with a lime wedge and dip in margarita salt. Fill the glass with ice. In a cocktail shaker, combine tequila, grand marnier, simple syrup and lime juice with ice, and shake for about 30 seconds. Pour over ice and squeeze in lime slices.

sugared cranberries
Add 1 cup of the sugar and the water to a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk until the sugar dissolves and bring the mixture to a boil, cooking for 2 to 3 minutes. Set it aside until it is cool enough to touch. Once the syrup is cool, either dunk the cranberries in it or pour the liquid over top of them in a bowl. Place the remaining sugar on a plate. I find the cranberries stay the prettiest if you try to remove any syrup "globs" and roll them in sugar one at a time.

fresh cranberry ginger vanilla margaritas (with sugared cranberries!) I

So. Now can you forgive me for the canned sauce?

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74 Responses to “Fresh Cranberry Ginger Vanilla Margaritas. (and sugared cranberries!)”

  1. #
    Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers — November 15, 2013 @ 8:02 am

    I am so bookmarking this recipe! Cranberries, vanilla and ginger in a drink. This is so perfect for the holidays and i love the sugared cranberries! Have a great weekend!


  2. #
    Michele @ Flavor Mosaic — November 15, 2013 @ 8:03 am

    Excellent photos! This looks perfect for the holidays.


  3. #
    Rochelle @ Oh So Sweet Baker — November 15, 2013 @ 8:06 am

    These look and sound soo delicious. So festive too


  4. #
    Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat — November 15, 2013 @ 8:21 am

    Ok, you and I definitely don’t have canned cranberry sauce in common, but I could definitely get on board with cranberry margaritas! And vanilla ginger syrup…. you’re speaking my language this morning. :) Happy Friday!


  5. #
    Belinda @themoonblushbaker — November 15, 2013 @ 8:25 am

    I think there is something special about canned cranberries. I think it goes for canned corn, while both delicious (I know you may not agree) they are different.

    Simply feastive and pretty take on a very Friday drink


  6. #
    Tieghan — November 15, 2013 @ 8:49 am

    These could not get any prettier! I love the sugared cranberries!


  7. #
    Aimee @ Simple Bites — November 15, 2013 @ 8:51 am

    I made a cranberry simple syrup yesterday and now i know the perfect use for it!


  8. #
    Brie @ Entrée the Giant — November 15, 2013 @ 8:57 am

    Those drinks embody winter – in a glass. Not the gross, tail end of winter where the snow banks are mostly mud, but the very first flakes of the season. You know, where everyone gets amnesia for a second of how awful the wrath of winter can be and realizes how beautiful it is sometimes : )


  9. #
    Brittany — November 15, 2013 @ 8:58 am

    Oh my gosh. Canned cranberries……….YES. Why are they so glorious?! I try to eat as ‘clean’ and natural as I can, but when it comes to cranberries CANNED are the ONLY way! :) Props to you for admitting publically. Respect.


  10. #
    Tracy | Peanut Butter And Onion — November 15, 2013 @ 9:09 am

    Sometimes I just come for the pictures, they are awesome


  11. #
    Melissa — November 15, 2013 @ 9:21 am

    Yum, this looks so good and I love the color it provides!


  12. #
    Taylor @ FoodFaithFitness — November 15, 2013 @ 9:26 am

    Oh my goodness, these are so pretty! And the PERFECT drink for holiday entertaining! Or in my case, sitting at home alone drinking by a Christmas tree as I just moved to a new state and don’t know anyone. But, these make me okay with that.


  13. #
    Jenelle N — November 15, 2013 @ 9:34 am

    You and Foodie with Family are on the same page when it comes to cranberry sauce! Did you see the recipe she posted for her homemade version? I think it’s right up your alley!


  14. #
    cindy — November 15, 2013 @ 9:38 am

    my BFF loves the canned stuff, she puts whipped cream on it. and, I have to admit, I never turn it away if it’s on the table.

    These margaritas are so damn festive, I LOVE it.


  15. #
    Laura — November 15, 2013 @ 9:46 am

    Wow, cannot WAIT to make these. Thanks for the daily inspiration! x


  16. #
    Caitlin — November 15, 2013 @ 9:54 am

    sugared cranberries!?!? how am I just now finding out about these little gems??? yum!


  17. #
    Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs — November 15, 2013 @ 10:01 am

    Hurry up 5:00 — I want to drink one of these! :)


  18. #
    Erin | The Law Student's Wife — November 15, 2013 @ 10:07 am

    Those little glittery cranberries are just so darn pretty! What is it about sparkly things I find so irresistible? Perhaps by the time I work my way to the bottom of this pitcher, I’ll have the answer…


  19. #
    Beth @ bethcakes — November 15, 2013 @ 11:01 am

    Freaking out about your gorgeous photos! And the margs, of course. I’ve always thought I didn’t really like cranberries, but I’m pretty sure one or two of these would change my mind!


  20. #
    TamTam — November 15, 2013 @ 11:17 am

    This sounds so yummy! I share your love for congealed cranberry sauce shaped like a can :)


  21. #
    Tess @ Tips on Healthy Living — November 15, 2013 @ 11:22 am

    I’m not a big fan of cranberries either, but this drink looks amazing. What else might you add besides the vanilla ginger syrup to balance the tartness, and make it sweeter?


  22. #
    Mallory @ Because I Like Chocolate — November 15, 2013 @ 11:27 am

    Pretty colours! This would be killer with pomegranates too! Or pomegranate and cranberries!


  23. #
    Laura (Blogging Over Thyme) — November 15, 2013 @ 11:28 am

    I don’t even like cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving, so canned/fresh–doesn’t matter to me!! But I DO like cranberries in baked goods and drinks, and would definitely love this.

    I’m still a little freaked out by sugared cranberries. The texture of raw ones is just weird.


  24. #
    Megan {Country Cleaver} — November 15, 2013 @ 11:46 am

    I’m trying to be mature and come around to the “real cranberries” NOT from a can, but my love of the canned version runs deep and I can never let go! But I’ll get over it with a couple of these, they look amazeballs.


  25. #
    Carly @ Carly in the Kitchen — November 15, 2013 @ 11:51 am

    Uh, YES. You are forgiven. I never liked the canned stuff growing up (more of a texture issue than anything else), but now that I’m older and more likely to like everything edible despite its faults, I can admit that it tastes pretty good.

    I’m not a big tequila drinker, but I am totally going to go buy some and make this cocktail. I need some of that flavor of merry in my life. Cheers!


  26. #
    Tara — November 15, 2013 @ 12:43 pm

    I also love canned cranberry sauce (but guilt myself into making real sauce every year). The canned stuff is super delicious mixed with mashed potatoes and gravy, but I also eat mac and cheese with ketchup, so there’s that….


  27. #
    Larry — November 15, 2013 @ 12:53 pm

    It’s simply just NOT Thanksgiving without a delicious can of cranberry sauce! I stand behind you in your canned-sauce fight to the end! GELEE LOVERS UNITE! ♥


  28. #
    Nicole ~ Cooking for Keeps — November 15, 2013 @ 1:35 pm

    I’m pretty sure this is the prettiest drink I’ve ever seen. Christmas here we come!!!!!!!!!!


  29. #
    Amanda — November 15, 2013 @ 2:42 pm

    amaaaazzzinggg….I think I must, must, must make these for this year’s holiday party.

    P.S. I like the canned cranberry sauce too…even over homemade. ;)


  30. #
    Averie @ Averie Cooks — November 15, 2013 @ 2:49 pm

    STELLAR!! I love making cranberry sauce with ginger, vanilla (mango, oranges, and anything else I can find). I would seriously guzzle these. I bet they go down dangerously easily. Even better :) Pinned


  31. #
    Yankee Kitchen Ninja — November 15, 2013 @ 3:58 pm

    I had a lovely dessert at a restaurant several weeks ago that included some candied cranberries, which got me wondering if I could make them myself. And then BAM! you show me how. You freakin’ rock!


  32. #
    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar — November 15, 2013 @ 4:02 pm

    I am so freaking into this. Total Christmas in a glass!


  33. #
    Alyssa — November 15, 2013 @ 4:09 pm

    I am with you on the Cranberry sauce! I make almost everything homemade and almost always prefer it over prepackaged products… however. I hate those cranberry sauces full of real berries and other flavors (like my mom makes it with orange) and will only eat the canned stuff. A big purple gelatinous tube in the exact shape of a can? Yes, please!! Everything else had better be from scratch. (Except my stuffing, that can totally be Stovetop.) Yummm.
    I definitely need a cocktail tonight.


  34. #
    JP — November 15, 2013 @ 4:54 pm

    I pinned a recipe for jellied cranberry sauce the other day if anyone wants to try it (I haven’t..yet)


  35. #
    Lisa @ Garnish with Lemon — November 15, 2013 @ 4:57 pm

    I LOVE cranberries and cannot wait to give these a try! The pictures are gorgeous!


  36. #
    Ida — November 16, 2013 @ 6:57 am

    Hi! Is this entire recipe just for ONE cocktail? It looks SO good! I have a bunch of frozen cranberries just dying to be used.


  37. #
    HeatherChristo — November 16, 2013 @ 10:22 am

    these are incredibly beautiful Jessica!!!


  38. #
    Amanda — November 16, 2013 @ 10:39 am

    Canned cranberry sauce means Thanksgiving to me. If we had the real stuff, the whole family would be like “what the heck is this??”


  39. #
    Barbara | Creative Culinary — November 16, 2013 @ 2:45 pm

    Beautiful cocktail and I actually love it all but then I LOVE cranberries. Sugared cranberries? I could eat them by the handful. I cook mine in the hot sugar water for a minute though…I love the crunch on the outside and the softer inside. I made them for a cake once and ate the entire bag that I didn’t use for decorations. Bad Barb.


  40. #
    DessertForTwo — November 16, 2013 @ 11:22 pm

    Cran margs! Again! Love ya :)


  41. #
    Tracy | Pale Yellow — November 17, 2013 @ 9:21 am

    This sounds like a lot of work, but totally worth it for a delicious cocktail!


  42. #
    Renee @ Awesome on $20 — November 19, 2013 @ 12:10 am

    i made your pom margarita last year for a Christmas party. It was amazing! I can’t wait to try this one, too.


  43. #
    43 — November 21, 2013 @ 8:37 am

    As I said in my recent post about these, I have just three words to say about these fabulous margaritas: Wow, wow…wow!!! Thanks for an absolutely fabulous margarita recipe. I am now spoiled for all the others!


  44. #
    Becca @ Crumbs — November 23, 2013 @ 8:26 am

    Wow these look so good! Margaritas are probably my favourite cocktail


  45. #
    jan — November 23, 2013 @ 11:11 pm

    If I make the cranberry juice is that enough for only one margarita? I’d like to make enough of these to share, but it seems like it will take a lot of cranberries.
    Please advise….


  46. #
    Deanna — January 21, 2014 @ 10:46 pm

    Shared your recipe here:

    I hope it brings you some traffic :-)


  47. #
    Meghan — February 3, 2014 @ 3:44 pm

    I had a cranberry ginger vanilla margarita over the holidays at a local bar and finally got around to scouring the web for a recipe I could use to recreate them at home.I was so excited to find this on your blog – and they taste great. I’m so excited – thanks!



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