This Cranberry Margarita is the perfect easy cocktail for the holidays! The tart flavors of cranberry and lime pair perfectly with tequila. Adding some fresh cranberries and a lime garnish gives it a festive feel, and the white salted rim with the red color of the drink is giving Santa hat vibes!
Since fresh cranberries are only available in late fall and early winter here in the U.S., this makes for a great seasonal cocktail. It's a refreshing counterpoint to other holiday drinks, which tend to be richer and more decadent during the chilly months.
Speaking of rich holiday drinks, try out this Aged Eggnog for a more traditional holiday cocktail, or this Sugar Plum Cocktail for something on the more strong and sweet side. These would be great on a holiday cocktail party menu!
If you want something a little more refreshing, go for a Cranberry Whiskey Sour, or a Christmas Mule with ginger beer. Or, try out a different type of Christmas margarita with a tasty White Christmas Margarita.
Here are the ingredients you'll need to make this delicious holiday drink.
- Tequila - silver or blanco tequila works best here to go with the tart cranberry flavor.
- Triple Sec - this orange liqueur is a traditional part of a margarita. I used Cointreau, which is a particular style of triple sec liqueur.
- Cranberry Juice - try to use 100% juice, not "Cranberry Juice Cocktail". If all you can find is the cranberry juice cocktail, you can use it, but it won't have as much flavor.
- Simple Syrup - store bought or homemade both work fine.
- Fine grain salt - using fine grain salt is better than coarse salt here, because more of it will stick to the glass rim, giving it more of a Santa hat look.
- Fresh Cranberries - for garnish.
- Fresh Lime - for juice and also garnish.
Here are some substitutions if you can't get some of the ingredients for this drink.
- Tequila - you can use reposado tequila if you don't have blanco or silver. Gin or vodka would also be fine (although less like a margarita!)
- Triple Sec - orange Curaçao liqueur works well here in place of the triple sec, or you could use limoncello or another citrus-based liqueur.
- Cranberry Juice - this is a pretty key ingredient for the recipe, but if you're in an area where you don't have access to cranberry juice, you can try pomegranate juice or tart cherry juice.
- Simple syrup - you can use maple syrup or agave nectar in place of the simple syrup.
- Fresh cranberries - if you don't have these, you can use pomegranate arils for a pop of color.
Here are a few ways you can change up this recipe!
- Spiced Cranberry Margarita - in place of the simple syrup, use a flavored syrup (like cinnamon syrup or a mulling spice-flavored syrup) for an extra kick of seasonal flavor.
- White Cranberry Margarita - use white cranberry juice for a different twist on this drink. White cranberry juice has a milder flavor. You can still use red cranberries for a nice pop of color. Vanilla flavored syrup in place of the simple syrup would be great in this drink too.
- Keto friendly - use a syrup that is keto friendly in place of the simple syrup. Just note that there will still be some sugar from the cranberry juice. If you really don't want the sugar, you can try using a couple drops of cranberry extract and a drop of red food coloring instead.
- Non-alcoholic - try using a tequila substitute, like Lyre's tequila style non-alcoholic spirit. You can add a splash of orange juice instead of the triple sec, or just omit it. Or, just use sparkling apple cider in place of the tequila for a refreshing fizzy drink.
You'll need a serving glass, a jigger or small measuring cup, and a cocktail shaker and strainer to make this drink. You'll also need a knife and cutting board and a citrus juicer for the lime, as well as a small dish for adding the salt rim to the serving glass.
I used these stemless gold-bottomed wine glasses. The look of these with the red drink and white salt rim was so festive!
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Start out by cutting your lime in half widthwise, and then cut an extra slice from the middle for a garnish. Set the slice aside and add your salt to a small plate. Then, rub one half of the cut lime all around the rim of the glass to wet it.
Hold the glass upside down at an angle and dip the wet rim of the glass into the plate of salt, turning a little bit after each dip. Set the glass aside once the rim is coated in salt.
Get your cocktail shaker ready and juice your lime. Measure the lime juice (I just juice it directly into the jigger) and add it to the shaker.
Add the simple syrup and triple sec liqueur to the shaker.
Next, add the cranberry juice and the tequila to the cocktail shaker.
Fill the cocktail shaker with ice, seal it up and shake everything about 15-20 times, until it is well chilled.
Add fresh ice to your salt-rimmed serving glass, and then strain the drink into the glass. Add in your fresh cranberries as a garnish.
Finish it off by cutting a slit in one side of the lime wheel and attaching it to the rim of the glass. Then, serve and enjoy!
Hint: to make this drink even more festive for a Christmas celebration, add a sprig of fresh rosemary as a bonus garnish. It adds a delicious aroma and goes perfectly with the drink!
Frequently Asked Questions
Cranberry juice cocktail is a drink that has sweeteners and water added to it. For this recipe, look for regular 100% cranberry juice, which does not have anything else added to it.
Tequila goes really well with cranberry juice. The tartness of the cranberries and the grassy agave flavor of tequila are a delicious pairing!
This is a great drink to serve at parties, and you can easily make a big pitcher. Instead of using ounces for all of your measurements, just use cups instead, and it will make 42 ounces. You will also want to add ice to the pitcher, so use at least a 48 ounce pitcher. You can add the salt rim, lime and cranberries to each glass beforehand and have them ready to go!
- 2 tablespoon fine-grained salt
- 1 fresh lime slice
- 5 to 10 fresh cranberries (optional, washed and dried)
- ¾ ounce lime juice (preferably fresh squeezed)
- 1 ounce simple syrup
- ½ ounce triple sec (I used Cointreau)
- 1½ ounce cranberry juice
- 1½ ounce tequila (blanco or silver)
- Put the salt in a small dish.
- Use half of a lime to wet the rim of your cocktail glass. If you don't have a fresh lime, you can use water.
- Dip the wet rim of the glass into the salt, then lift and turn the glass. Dip again until the full rim is coated in salt.
- Cut a slit in the lime slice so you can attach it to the rim of the glass later. Set it aside along with the fresh cranberries.
- Add the lime juice, simple syrup, triple sec, cranberry juice and tequila to a cocktail shaker.
- Fill the shaker with ice, seal it and shake about 15 to 20 times.
- Add fresh ice to your cocktail glass and strain the drink into the glass.
- Add the fresh cranberries to the glass and attach the lime slice to the rim before serving.