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Serious Eats

DIY Cranberry Liqueur

November 16, 2012

[Photograph: Marcia Simmons]

When life gives you cranberries—which it always does this time of year—make cranberry liqueur. This bright red, tart liqueur can keep you in festive cocktails from Thanksgiving to Christmas and beyond.

Notes: Lemon zest can be substituted for the orange zest. An immersion blender is the quickest way to break up the cranberries, but if you don't have one you can use a regular blender, food processor, or even mash by hand with a fork.

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Special equipment: immersion blender, fine-mesh sieve, cheesecloth


serves Makes about 2 cups, active time 10 minutes, total time 2 to 4 days

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • Zest of half an orange (without pith)
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1 1/2 cups vodka


  1. Bring the sugar, water, orange zest, and cranberries to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until cranberries start to burst, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

  2. Use the immersion blender to roughly break up the cranberries just enough so that the juice is release yet the mixture remains chunky. Pour into a sealable glass jar along with the vodka and shake. Let steep at room temperature for 2 days, then sample and continue to steep until you're happy with the flavor.

  3. Strain through a sieve lined with cheesecloth, pressing down to extract as much liquid as possible. Store at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

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