This Mistletoe Martini is a delicious and festive cocktail with the flavors of cranberry and gin. Dry vermouth adds sweetness and a touch of bitterness, and a spiced cranberry syrup gives an extra punch of flavor. It's easy to make, and also great for making a big batch to serve at a holiday party!
This martini is the perfect drink for Christmastime! Since fresh cranberries are seasonal, they make the perfect wintry garnish, along with the evergreen-like fresh rosemary.
This refreshing and strong drink would be the perfect counterpoint to creamy Eggnog on a holiday drink menu. If you're looking for a similar flavor, but in a less strong-tasting drink, try out a Poinsettia Cocktail or a Cranberry Margarita!
Here are the ingredients you'll need to make this festive drink:
- Gin - I used The Botanist gin, which is a great dry gin and perfect for this drink. Any dry gin will work great and should come through without being overpowered by the cranberry.
- Dry Vermouth - I used Noilly Prat vermouth for this drink. If you prefer a sweeter cocktail, try using sweet vermouth instead.
- Cranberry juice - use 100% cranberry juice, not "cranberry cocktail". If all you can find is the cocktail version, you can use it. Keep in mind that you might want cut back on the amount of syrup you use, since there is water and some sweetener added to it already.
- Spiced cranberry syrup - I made this syrup at home (instructions in the next section), but commercial spiced cranberry syrups are available too, like the spiced cranberry syrup by Portland Syrups.
How to make Spiced Cranberry Syrup
If you know how to make Simple Syrup, making spiced cranberry syrup is just as easy! There are a few different methods, but the easiest for me is to just use cranberry juice instead of water, and adding whole spices to the mix for flavor.
Be sure to use 100% cranberry juice rather than cranberry "cocktail", which has additional water and sweetener added to it.
To make the syrup, mix together one cup of cranberry juice and one cup of sugar in a small saucepan. Add 2 cinnamon sticks and ¼ cup of mulling spices, and place it over high heat, stirring occasionally.
When the mixture boils, turn the heat down to medium low and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Then remove it from the heat and let it cool down to room temperature.
When it's cool, strain the liquid into an airtight bottle or mason jar and keep it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
If you need to make substitutions, here are some suggestions:
- Gin - you can replace the gin with vodka or tequila blanco, although you will lose the herbal and evergreen-y flavor of the gin. As long as you use the fresh rosemary garnish, you will still get some of that aroma as you drink.
- Dry vermouth - you can omit the vermouth if you don't have it. If you do, I suggest adding a couple dashes of cardamom bitters or angostura bitters to round out the flavors.
- Spiced cranberry syrup - if you can't find or make this syrup, you can use an equal amount of plain simple syrup or maple syrup instead.
- Cranberry juice - try using pomegranate or cherry juice. You can omit the syrup if you do, as those juices are not as tart as cranberry.
Here are a few ideas to change up this cocktail into something a little different!
- Make it long - instead of serving it without ice, strain it into a tall glass filled with ice and top it off with seltzer or lemon lime soda.
- Keto-friendly - you can use a sugar free syrup, like Jordan's Skinny Syrups spiced cranberry, and omit the vermouth for a low-sugar option.
- Sugar the rim - add some sparkling sugar to the rim by coating the rim in the cranberry syrup and then dipping it into the sugar. This adds a little extra festive sparkle!
- Mistletoe Martini with Elderflower - instead of the dry vermouth, you can use an elderflower liqueur like St Germain. This will make it a lot sweeter, so just decrease the syrup to ¼ ounce and increase the cranberry juice to ¾ ounce.
Let me know in the comments if you tried any of these versions!
You'll need a few things to make this drink, including a jigger or small measuring cup, a mixing glass and a bar spoon. You'll also need a cocktail strainer and a martini style serving glass (you can also use a coupe glass, or anything with a stem really!)
If you're making the fresh cranberry garnish, you'll need some cocktail picks or toothpicks to hold them in place.
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Start out by adding the dry vermouth and the cranberry juice to your mixing glass.
Next, add in the spiced cranberry syrup and the gin.
Fill the mixing glass with ice, and use a long bar spoon to stir it for about 30 seconds.
Strain the drink into your serving glass. Then, add the cranberries onto a cocktail pick and rest it on top of the glass.
Lightly hit the fresh rosemary sprig against your palm a few times to release the aromas. Add it to the glass as a final garnish, and serve.
Hint: You don't have to use a cocktail pick for the cranberry garnish, since they will float on top of the drink. But, it's pretty useful to keep them and the rosemary in place on the side of the glass while you drink!
Frequently Asked Questions
Traditional holiday drink garnishes are fresh rosemary, cranberries or currants, cinnamon sticks and any type of mulling spice. Pomegranate arils also look great in holiday drinks.
It's easy to garnish with fresh rosemary, and it really makes a huge difference to the experience of the cocktail. Be sure to wash and dry the rosemary first. Then, lightly hit it against your palm a few times to release the aromas before adding it to the drink.
Top tip - Making a big batch
This is a perfect recipe to make in a pitcher for a holiday party! Unlike citrus, the cranberry juice won't oxidize as it sits in the fridge. You can even make it 5 to 7 days in advance and keep it in the fridge.
Just multiply the amounts by the number of servings you need. Add ½ ounce of water per cocktail when you batch (stirring with ice adds some water as it melts, so the water replaces the stirring), and keep the whole batch in the fridge. Each cocktail will be a total of 3½ ounces, so a 32 ounce pitcher will hold around 9 cocktails.
When you're ready to serve, give the pitcher a quick stir to make sure everything is fully combined. You can pre-make the garnishes, have them ready on the glasses, and just pour the drink into the glasses as you need. Cheers to the holidays!
- Cocktail strainer
- Cocktail pick (for garnish)
- ½ ounce dry vermouth
- ½ ounce cranberry juice
- ½ ounce spiced cranberry syrup (see Notes)
- 1½ ounces gin
- 3 fresh cranberries
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- Add the dry vermouth, cranberry juice, spiced cranberry syrup and gin to a cocktail mixing glass.
- Fill the mixing glass with ice and stir using a long bar spoon for 30 seconds.
- Strain the drink into a martini glass.
- Skewer the cranberries onto a cocktail pick and rest it on top of the glass as a garnish.
- Lightly tap the fresh rosemary against your palm a few times. Then add it to the serving glass, wedged between the cranberries and the glass rim, and serve.