So I’m weird about cranberry stuff. Except cranberry margaritas.

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.

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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

5 from 3 votes
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  • 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


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.

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

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