This Cranberry Bourbon Cocktail is perfect for Fall. Whip up a batch of maple-cranberry simple syrup in just 5-minutes. Then combine it with bourbon and cranberry juice, top it with a rosemary sprig and enjoy!
While I’m typically more of a vodka girl, cocktails like the Mint Julep and this New York Sour Slush are quickly turning me into a bourbon lover.
And now that Fall is on its way, it’s time to retire the Aperol Spritzes on the back patio. Let’s replace those with a cozy blanket, lots of burning candles and this delicious Cranberry Maple Bourbon Smash. So sippable. So yummy. And so what I’ll be sipping on on rainy, Pacific NW evenings.
First thing’s first.
🌟 What is a Bourbon Smash?
- You can learn the full history here. But in general, a smash is a cocktail served on ice that highlights seasonal fruit and/or herbs. It can be made with any spirit, but in this case, I’m using bourbon. And the seasonal fruit-herb combination that I’m using for the Fall are cranberries and rosemary.
And let’s not forget about that beautiful, amber hued maple syrup. It lends just the perfect hint of sweetness and is the perfect complement to those tart cranberries.
Of course, the maple syrup you’re using matters in this cocktail recipe. If you’ve got some in your cupboard, look at the label. If you see more than one ingredient, it’s not pure maple syrup. I’m using 100% pure maple syrup from Canada. This natural sweetener has an unmatched flavor. And when used in place of sugar when making a simple syrup, it adds a beautiful depth and complexity.
Since fresh cranberries weren’t yet available in the grocery store, I had to use frozen cranberries in this recipe. They worked perfectly and there’s no need to thaw them. In fact, when you drop a few into your glass as a garnish, they even help to keep your cocktail cold.
However, if you do have your hands on fresh cranberries, they also work in this recipe. No need to adjust the cook time or anything.
📋 How to Make It
This cocktail starts off by making a maple-cranberry simple syrup. But please don’t let this step intimidate you. The process could not be simpler, and it takes just 5 minutes.
aSimply heat the maple syrup, water and cranberries in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until the cranberries begin to burst. Then strain the syrup and let it cool a bit.
Tip: Hosting a party? This is the perfect cocktail since you can make the simple syrup up to 5-days ahead of time. Make a double (or triple) batch by simply adjusting the serving size in the recipe card below. As written, the simple syrup will make 6 cocktails.
Once the maple simple syrup is made, these simple bourbon cocktails can be assembled in a flash.
Just Follow These Simple Steps
- Shake simple syrup, bourbon and cranberry juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
- Strain into an ice filled glass.
- Garnish with a rosemary sprig.
ℹ️ What is the Best Bourbon to Use?
Since the flavor will be diluted with fruits, simple syrup, herbs, etc., you don’t want to reach for your best bottle of bourbon. Instead, choose a great tasting bourbon, that won’t break the bank.
Here are some of the best bourbons for a Bourbon Smash, that come in at under $40 a bottle:
- Woodford Reserve: vanilla, butterscotch, smoke, oak (the official bourbon used at the Kentucky Derby) ($33)
- Four Roses Single Barrel: pear, cherry, toffee (my personal favorite) ($40)
- Old Grand-Dad Bonded Bourbon: vanilla, orange, pepper ($20)
- Wild Turkey Rare Breed: oak, fruit, butterscotch ($40)
- Pure Kentucky XO: vanilla, cedar, cherry, oak ($40)
- Old Bardstown: caramel, orange, pine ($35)
- Maker’s Mark: vanilla, caramel, brown sugar (a lighter option a 90-proof) ($25)
You can also use whiskey. Read more about Bourbon vs. Whiskey here.
🥃 What Glass to Use?
- I’ve owned these glasses for ages and I’m a huge fan of them for whiskey cocktails. They also work great for margaritas, gin & tonics, and mojitos.
- Batch Bourbon Smash: To make a large batch of these cocktails, simply adjust the serving size in the recipe card. Perfect for parties.
- Ginger Bourbon Smash: Add a splash of ginger beer to your cocktail to give it a ginger fizz. (Soda water also helps to add a nice fizz.)
Did you make this Cranberry Bourbon Cocktail?
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More Fall Cocktail Recipes:
- Fall Cider Cocktail
- Easy Espresso Martini
- Sparkling Ginger Pear Cocktails
- Bees Knees Martini
- Apple Cider Mule
More Classic Cocktail Recipes:
- Mint Julep
- Gin and Tonic Recipe (with 3 Ways to customize it!)
- French 75 Cocktail Recipe
- Aviation Martini
- Aperol Spritz
Cranberry Bourbon Cocktail Recipe
Maple Cranberry Simple Syrup:
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup from Canada
- ¼ c water
- 1 cup frozen cranberries
- 1 ounce maple cranberry syrup
- 1 ½ ounces bourbon
- 1 ounce unsweetened cranberry juice
- Rosemary sprigs (to garnish)
Maple Cranberry Simple Syrup:
- In a small saucepan, bring maple syrup and cranberries to a simmer over medium-high heat until berries begin to burst, about 5 minutes. Strain and let cool. (Makes enough simple syrup for 6 cocktails.)
- In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add maple-cranberry simple syrup, bourbon and cranberry juice. Shake well and strain into a glass filled with ice. Garnish with rosemary sprigs. Enjoy!
10 thoughts on “Cranberry Bourbon Cocktail (Cranberry Bourbon Smash)”
So delicious and easy! My guests loved it!
I’m so happy to hear that Ashlyn!
Can I use Evan Wiiliams Kentucky bourbon?
Delicious! Now I need some ideas for what I can make with the strained cranberries!
Roll them in sugar, lay on paper towel over night. In the morning, they’ll be hard, sweet and sour, crunchy candies.
This was fantastic! So festive too. Thank you for the recipe.
Thank you! Cheers!
Delicious recipe! The syrup was easy to make too. Thank you!