Cosmopolitan Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Sauce

Like so many, my childhood memory of cranberries is centered on the canned, jellied version of cranberry sauce. I can’t say I hated it, but I just don’t care for anything ‘jelloish’; preferring jam in a heartbeat to jelly. Still I was unprepared for how much I would LOVE cranberry sauce made from scratch. Talk about’s a mystery why anyone would have ever thought to can berries as a gelatinized sauce in the first place. Cranberry sauce is easy, having the mouth feel of whole berries is a huge plus and not to be discounted? The resulting dish is beyond compare to anything you can purchase at the market and the opportunity to put your own spin on it is limitless.

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Ever since that fateful year that I decided to experiment with fresh cranberries, I’ve come to really enjoy the holidays and the availability of this beautiful fruit. As a faithful Costco member, the abundance of berries in my home after shopping there gives me ample opportunity to try several dishes. I absolutely must try a new version of cranberry sauce each year with some hits and some misses. Everyone who has had my Merlot Cranberry Sauce with Toasted Walnuts loves it as much as I do. However, no one got to even try the Asian version I made one year with jalapeno and Chinese Five Spice; it just did not cut it for me and I sure wasn’t going to serve it to anyone else. Sob.

This year I decided to incorporate the ingredients from a favorite cocktail, the Cosmopolitan, substituting the water typically used in cooking the cranberries with vodka. During the process of preparing this dish, I had a moment of thinking I had done this before…one of those deja vu moments when something seemed so familiar. And then I remembered that indeed I had; however that attempt had the vodka added after the cranberries were cooked down and it was just a bit too harsh for my tastes. So I continued with my attempt this year which required cooking the vodka and cranberries together. What a difference. It’s hard to explain but the taste of vodka is not so evident as just a cooler, crisper result to the overall product. Love at first bite.

So, this is not ‘really’ a cocktail and because I hate to disappoint…take a bit of these berries and some of the juices, add a splash of Grand Marnier and some chilled vodka or Spanish cava and voila; a new and unique holiday cocktail is quickly in hand!

Cranberry Sauce

Cosmopolitan Cranberry Sauce – Is it a Cocktail or a Sidedish?

Creative Culinary
A unique twist on an old favorite.
5 from 50 or more votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 2


  • 12 oz cranberries fresh, washed and picked over to remove bad berries
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 TBS orange zest
  • cup vodka
  • 3 TBS Grand Marnier or Triple Sec
  • Lemon twists for garnish


  • In a small saucepan, add everything but lemon garnish and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the sauce thickens.
  • Remove from heat and let sauce cool for 5 minutes.
  • Transfer to bowl and chill in refrigerator until set, about 2 hours.
  • Serve chilled in martini glasses with a twist of lemon
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


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    1. I’m hoping that others who cook turkey for Christmas too will appreciate this and some upcoming posts. I don’t cook a month in advance so I can post here; I post what I cook for meals. Huge difference right? I’ve got a turkey coming soon too. Now me? I am a cranberryaholic. I use them til I can’t buy them anymore.

  1. Everything is better fresh! When growing up, sometimes my mother would get the cranberry sauce with whole cranberries in it, and it still wasn’t all that great. I suppose because it was still canned.

    1. I didn’t even know that made it like that for years…that would have been preferable but you’re right…just better fresh no matter what.

    1. Aw thanks Lora…I’m thinking I’ll make the cocktail and add it to this one…next week? Hmm, who knew?

    1. And clever suggestions from comments that it would also be good on ice cream…and they are right on! Will have to try that; I think I made a vat of this.

    1. Thanks Yuri…the photos are definitely a work in progress but I am starting to enjoy the process more every day. I think I must include ice cream in the title then, right?

    1. SO good…and I think Nancy hit the nail on the head…the vodka just seems to heighten the other flavors without adding a jolt of it’s own. Last year it was a bit too overpowering; cooking it was the key.

  2. Brilliant Barb.. just brilliant! I am not surprised at how the vodka worked out – I’ve always thought that alcohol, while imparting some of it’s own flavor actually works as an amplifier of whatever flavors it’s combined with!!

    I may just have to roast another turkey breast so I can have this sauce with it!!

    1. You hit the nail on the head Nancy…it’s not strong with the flavor of vodka but the other components are enhanced. The simmering takes the edge off the vodka, much like aging. It was perfect.

  3. This cranberry sauce sounds so delicious and I love the addition of vodka! I also like your cocktail idea… Yum! I love Grand Marnier. And your pictures are just gorgeous as usual. I seriously need some pointers. I want to be able to create picture like yours. Beautiful Barb!

    1. Kate, always glad to help though I feel like such a newbie still; I started taking the most horrid photos but a couple of years and a decent camera later and I’m starting to get the hang of it.

  4. That is my kind of cranberry sauce! The cosmo twist is a great idea. 🙂 I also have those memories of canned jelly like cranberry sauce and never understood why it was so popular. We were all so deprived of the good stuff for so many years! Happy weekend!

    1. Sort of amazing we loved Thanksgiving dinners back when we were kids. Canned everything and an overdone turkey. Yum.

    1. Thanks Wendy…and I think you’ve hit on the key. Using just enough to add something subtle and not taste like a jar of booze; I know your stuff is fabulous.

  5. Mmmmm, love this idea. I also love putting jalapenos in mine. Maybe I could combine the two or try it with tequila and jalapeno. See, you have inspired me to think out of the cranberry box!

  6. Another great presentation and there’s no hard and fast rule that says you can’t enjoy your cocktail with a spoon! I’m wondering what this would taste like spread over a baked brie?

    1. I’m sure it would be great on brie cause I’ve done that. I put the sauce on a bit before the brie is done so everything is warm and melty. 🙂

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