The Yuletide Mule - Cranberry Moscow Mule

Written by: Yana and Joe

The winter season brings us the gift of excuses to use cranberries! Rarely seen in cocktails the rest of the year, this merry berry brings a bright cheery color to darker days.

The Yuletide Mule Cocktail is a cranberry Moscow mule variation that features the classic vodka, lime, and ginger beer, enhanced with aromatic Exorcism Bitters, and a homemade cranberry syrup infused with orange and rosemary to surprise the senses.

Moscow mules are perfect for holiday festivities as they conjure snowy memories. This cranberry variation is complex in flavor yet easy to drink and certain to impress your most distinguished guests.

How do I make a cranberry Moscow mule?

Moscow mules are a simple classic cocktail made with three ingredients: vodka, lime, and ginger beer.  

Getting the cranberry flavor into a Moscow mule can be done in a few different ways. In my research into cranberry Moscow mule recipes I found various methods, but they all have drawbacks.

  1. Mashing cranberries in the bottom of a mug or glass: Makes for inconsistent cocktails that are overly sour, while creating chunks of cranberry that clog up your straw or get in your mouth.
  2. Juicing cranberries or 100% cranberry juice from a bottle: While juicing you own cranberries or using 100% cranberry juice is considered more "pure" than cranberry juice cocktail, this method results in a very sour drink, lacking balance.
  3. Cranberry juice cocktail: The closest option for getting a pleasant balance of sweet and sour, however these cranberry juice cocktails vary greatly between brands resulting in inconsistencies in your cocktails.

So how do you create a perfectly balanced cranberry Moscow mule?  Make your own cranberry simple syrup to ensure every cocktail is consistent and exact.  

The secret to the cranberry syrup is a very slow and low cook on the stove top that yields a runny, easy to pour syrup.  Don't worry, just keep the flame low, stir frequently, and you won't accidentally make cranberry sauce.  

Ingredients for Cranberry Moscow Mule syrup in a sauce pan.  Cranberries, orange peel, and rosemary.

How do you serve a Cranberry Moscow Mule?Do I need a copper mug?

When the Moscow mule was created in the 1940s, it was originally served in a copper mug, supposedly to keep the cocktail cold longer. There are rumors that it also makes it taste better.

Rumors aside, you can make a mule in any glass you want, and furthermore you could make it with any spirit of your liking. We found it disappointing to hide this cranberry Moscow mule's bright and festive color inside a cup we couldn't see through, so we serve it in a highball/collins glass.  

Garnishing this cocktail is a delight with numerous eye catching options to try:

  • Cranberries
  • Rosemary Sprig
  • Lime Wheel
  • Orange Peel
  • Lime Twist

Is Ginger Beer Alcoholic?

Despite having the word “beer” in it's name, ginger beer is actually non-alcoholic. It carries the word beer in it's name from times when fermentation was the primary source of carbonation in beverages. 

Back in the day, if you wanted to drink something fizzy, you had to ferment it (making beer), or get naturally carbonated water from a mineral spring. Modern forced carbonation allows us to make bubbly beverages without fermentation and the alcohol it produces.  

Some ginger beers are still made with real ginger and fermentation, but the process is halted by heating, which kills the yeast. The result is a spicy, carbonated drink with an abv below 0.5%.  

A closeup of rosemary and cranberry garnish in The Nightmare Before Christmas Cranberry Moscow Mule cocktail served in a clear collins (highball) glass, next to a bowl of cranberries and a wintergreen plant.

Cranberry Moscow Mule Ingredients

We suggest you use organic ingredients whenever possible. Here's what you'll need to make this cranberry Moscow mule recipe:

  • Cranberry Syrup -

    Enhanced with rosemary, bay leaf, and orange peel, this cranberry syrup strikes the perfect balance between sour and sweet. The added herbs and citrus peel add depth and complexity that blends seamlessly with the spice of the ginger beer.

    You won't make cranberry sauce if you use our proportions, which create a thin liquid, easy to add to drinks.

    Cook 1 part cranberries, 1 part water, and 1 part sugar LOW AND SLOW to ensure that your berries don't burst. You want to cook them about 45 minutes, as they give up their juice but hold onto their shape.

    Strain while the syrup is still warm and keep refrigerated.

  • Fresh Lime Juice

    There are two schools of thought here. In one you pre-squeeze all your lime juice in advanced. In the other, you squeeze your limes a la minute - or to order, pressing fresh juice for every cocktail.  

    Whichever way you prefer to make your cranberry Moscow mules, we recommend using a hand press like this citrus press from Cocktail Kingdom to ensure you get the flavor of the oil from the peel into your cranberry Moscow mule.

The ingredients and equipment to make cranberry Moscow mule syrup laid out. A sauce pan, water, sugar, cranberries, orange peel, rosemary, and bay leaf in a white marble scene with a wintergreen plant.
  • Vodka

    There is a lot of controversy over this simple spirit. Many vodka lovers have strong allegiances to their favorite vodka brands while many bartenders believe that there is no discernible difference between different vodkas. 

    The truth is that vodkas do taste different depending on the grain and distilling method that they're made from. While you can use any high quality vodka to make an excellent cranberry Moscow mule, these are a few of our favorites:

    Grey Goose - If you're looking to make an especially smooth cranberry Moscow mule, this vodka, produced to create a soft mouthfeel and gentle flavor profile will be your best option. Made with soft winter wheat typically used in bread baking and limestone filtered water from the spring that runs under their production facility in France. Grey Goose is distilled only once through a five column still for a  mellow character beloved for its very drinkable and mixable flavor.

    Belvedere - Made with rye, Belvedere has one of the most discernible flavor profiles for a vodka. If you're looking for something with a beefier flavor profile and a peppery finish this is an excellent Polish vodka to try.

    Tito's - The best selling vodka in America, Tito's is made in Texas, with the most American grain: corn. Distilled six times in pot stills, it has a unique sweet character and creamy texture. The sweetness from the corn makes it an excellent vodka to mix with or drink neat.

The Nightmare Before Christmas Cranberry Moscow Mule cocktail served in a clear collins (highball) glass, next to a bowl of cranberries, a jar of rosemary, and a wintergreen plant.
  • Ginger Beer

    Ginger ale is typically made by combining ginger flavored syrup with seltzer, so to make a real cranberry Moscow mule you will need to choose a real ginger beer. Ginger beer is made by fermenting fresh ginger and sugar with Lactobacillus, giving ginger beer a cloudy appearance as well as a much spicier, complex, and refreshing flavor than ginger ale.

    There are a lot of ginger beer options out there; these are some of our favorites:

    Goslings - Probably the most well known ginger beer brand due to fact that they also make an extremely popular dark rum. Not too spicy or too sweet, Goslings is remarkably well balanced making it an excellent choice for cocktails like a cranberry Moscow mule.

    Bundaburg - This Australian ginger beer is one of the easiest sipping options. It is sweeter than it is spicy, making it perfect for anyone adverse to spicy flavor. It works well in a cranberry Moscow mule but you may want to add a little extra lime or bitters to offset the sweetness depending on your flavor preference.

    Cock n' Bull - A bit harder to find but well worth the search if you are a spice lover. This ginger beer is one of the spiciest and full flavored options on the market. First bottled in 1946, some claim that this was the ginger beer used for Moscow mules at the original Cock n' Bull where the Moscow mule was allegedly conceived. While hard to definitively prove the origin story, it does make for a bold and full flavored cranberry Moscow mule.

The Nightmare Before Christmas Cranberry Moscow Mule cocktail served in a clear collins (highball) glass, next to a can of Goslings ginger beer, a lime, and a wintergreen plant.
  • Exorcism Bitters

    Bitters are the best way to tie flavors together and make a cocktail both more complex and harmonious. Cranberry pairs exceptionally well with both savory and sweet so it's no wonder that Exorcism Bitters (which contains both flavors) combine so seamlessly with a cranberry Moscow mule. 

    Exorcism Bitters add warm pepper notes via cubeb to help tie the spicy ginger and the tart cranberry together. These aromatic bitters impart baking spice flavors that mellow out the ginger, making room for rosemary and lime to bring a refreshing burst of citrus and evergreen herb flavor to this cranberry Moscow mule.

Don't know how to measure bitters? Check out our blog on all things bitters here: What Are Bitters?

The Nightmare Before Christmas Cranberry Moscow Mule cocktail served in a clear collins (highball) glass, next to a bottle of Exorcism Bitters, a jar of cranberry syrup, a jar of rosemary, a lime, and a wintergreen plant.
Cranberry Moscow mule in collins glass surrounded by Bennett Exorcism Bitters, lime, and cranberry syrup with rosemary and a wintergreen plant in the background.

The Yuletide Mule - Cranberry Moscow Mule

Prep time

3 hrs

Mix time

5 min


1 person




  • 1.5 oz Vodka
  • .75 oz Lime Juice
  • .75 oz Cranberry Syrup
  • 2-3 droppers of Bennett Exorcism Bitters
  • Top with Ginger Beer


Rosemary Sprig




Collins Glass

Cranberry Syrup


  • 1 cup Cranberries
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • Leaves from 1 Sprig of Rosemary
  • Zest from 1 Orange


Step 1

Make Cranberry Syrup


Step 1

Combine all ingredients into a sauce pan and bring to a simmer.

Step 2

Cook on low heat (barely bubbling) for 45 minutes. Keep an eye on the pot to make sure that the heat stays low and that the cranberries give up their juice but hold onto their shape.

Step 3

Strain while still warm.

Step 4

Cool in the refrigerator for at least two hours.

Step 2

Make Cranberry Moscow Mule


Step 1

Combine all ingredients except for ginger beer into a collins glass. 

Step 2

Add ice and top with ginger beer. 

Step 3

Stir, garnish with rosemary and cranberries, and enjoy. 

Additional Info

ABV: 7.4%

Standard Drinks: 1

Calories: 194

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