Cranberry Bourbon Cocktail (Cranberry Bourbon Smash)

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.

Bowl of cranberries next to container of maple syrup

Ingredients needed

Four ingredients are all you need to make this delicious cranberry smash cocktail:

  • Cranberries – Fresh or frozen (see below).
  • Pure Maple Syrup
  • Bourbon – Or whiskey. See suggestions below.
  • Unsweetened Cranberry Juice – Look for pure cranberry juice, not cranberry juice cocktail.

Note: 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.

Simply 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. 
  • Enjoy! 
Side view of prepared bourbon smash cocktails next to bottle of maple syrup.

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.

Side view of prepared bourbon smash cocktails next to bottle of maple syrup.

What glass to use?


  • 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.)

More Fall cocktail recipes

Side view of prepared bourbon smash cocktails next to bottle of maple syrup.

More classic cocktails

Did you try this cranberry bourbon smash?

If you loved this cranberry smash cocktail, I would appreciate it so much if you would give this recipe a ⭐️star review⭐️! Also, be sure to snap a picture of your finished dish and share it with me on Instagram using the hashtag #platingsandpairings and tagging me @platingsandpairings.

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Side view of prepared bourbon smash cocktails next to bottle of maple syrup.

Cranberry Bourbon Cocktail

This Cranberry Maple Bourbon Smash Cocktail is the perfect fall cocktail. 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!
5 from 21 votes
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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1 cocktail


Maple Cranberry Simple Syrup:


  • 1 ounce maple cranberry syrup
  • 1 ½ ounces bourbon
  • 1 ounce unsweetened cranberry juice
  • Ice
  • Rosemary sprigs (to garnish)


Maple Cranberry Simple Syrup:

  • In a small saucepan, bring maple syrup, water 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!
Did you make this recipe?Mention @platingsandpairings or tag #platingsandpairings!


Cocktail Shaker


Calories: 175kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Sodium: 3mg | Potassium: 64mg | Sugar: 17g | Calcium: 31mg

This post was originally published in 2020. It was updated in 2023 to add new information. The cranberry bourbon cocktail recipe remains the same. Enjoy!

13 thoughts on “Cranberry Bourbon Cocktail (Cranberry Bourbon Smash)”

  1. 5 stars
    Fantastic recipe! The only thing I changed is that after I cooked the cranberries in the syrup I emulsion blended the cranberries to give it more of a cranberry flavor. And then put it through a strainer to catch all of the inedible bits of the cranberry. That just elevated the flavor profile of the drink for me. I will definitely be doing this again!


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