Based on spicy Rye and sweetened with seasonal homemade cranberry syrup, this Christmas Old Fashioned is a perfect drink to kick off the festive season on a cold winter evening.
Cranberries and Christmas go together hand in hand. Therefore, bringing the full taste of cranberry into an Old Fashioned feels like the natural choice for creating a festive twist.
Ingredients to make our Christmas Old Fashioned
The traditional Old Fashioned recipe consists of base spirit, sugar cube, a few drops of bitters, and a splash of soda.
Our Christmas take on this recipe adds a little more flavor without changing the overall template. After all, you still want to drink an Old Fashioned.
What you'll need to make this holiday cocktail:
- Rye Whiskey
- Homemade cranberry syrup
- Fresh cranberries
- Angostura bitters
- Sugared cranberries
- Cocktail picks
- optionally: sugar for a sugar rim
As you can see, apart from the base recipe is only tweaked slightly. You replace the sugar with beautiful homemade cranberry syrup and add sweetness and some fruity flavors with a few fresh, sugared cranberries.
Mostly, Old Fashioned cocktails are made with Bourbon but Rye comes a close seconds. Due to the fruity sweetness from the cranberries, this Christmas Old Fashioned can easily handle the spicy notes from the Rye Whiskey. It also makes the drink better balanced.
The festive details
To make this cocktail look the part, the list of ingredients for this Rye-based Christmas Old Fashioned contains a few decorative items.
However, these additions are not crucial for the taste of the drink. So if you plan to indulge in this festive Old Fashioned without any extras, there is no need to add the garnish.
When, on the other hand, you plan to serve them to friends and family, these small touches are great to bring your guests into a winter vacation mood.
The first piece of garnish is sugared cranberries skewered on a cocktail pick. These sweet treats are a common way to garnish food and drinks on Christmas.
If you have never made them, check out our quick and easy guide to making sugar-coated cranberries below.
A second, quick and simple option is to add a frosted look to the rims of your glasses.
Just moisten the rim of your glass and dip it in some sugar. Although, I suggest only partly rim the glasses as not everybody likes this extra bit of sweetness in their drink.
Making the Sugared Cranberry Garnish
- Fresh or dried cranberries (1 cup)
- Water (1/2 cup)
- Granulated sugar (1 cup, plus extra for coating)
- A fine sieve or colander
- A shallow bowl
- Wax paper or a baking sheet
- Prepare the Syrup: In a small saucepan, mix 1/2 cup of water with 1/2 cup of sugar. Heat over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves completely to form a simple syrup. Remove from heat and let it cool slightly.
- Coat the Cranberries: If using fresh cranberries, ensure they are washed and dried. For dried cranberries, briefly soak them in warm water to plump them up, then drain. Add the cranberries to the syrup and stir gently, ensuring they are well coated.
- Drain the Cranberries: Using a fine sieve or colander, drain the cranberries from the syrup. Let them sit for a few minutes to become slightly tacky, but not dry.
- Sugar Coating: Spread the remaining granulated sugar in a shallow bowl. Add the tacky cranberries to the sugar and gently roll them around until they are evenly coated with sugar.
- Dry the Cranberries: Place the sugar-coated cranberries on a sheet of wax paper or a baking sheet in a single layer. Let them dry at room temperature for at least an hour until the sugar coating is hard and crystallized.
- Storage: Store the sugared cranberries in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. They can be used as a festive garnish for desserts, cocktails, or enjoyed as a sweet snack.
You Want More Christmas cocktails?
Here are some of our easy-to-make favorite winter cocktails for this year's festive season:
And if you need even more inspiration, why don't you check out our list of the best cocktails for Christmas eve? It contains amazing ideas from our fellow mixologists and some turly creative cocktail recipes to try out.
- 1 Jigger
- 1 Mixing glass
- 2 oz Rye Whiskey
- 1 oz Homemade cranberry syrup
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- 3-5 Fresh cranberries
- Sugared cranberries - (for garnish)
- Sugar - (for rim)
- Partly rim your glass with sugar and set it aside.
- Add fresh cranberries into a mixing glass and slightly crush them.
- Add Rye Whiskey, homemade cranberry simple syrup, Angostura bitters, and ice. Stir until the drink is well-chilled.
- Strain into the prepared glass.
- Decorate with sugared cranberries on a cocktail pick.