Cranberry Whiskey Sour

Brighten your next holiday season with the festive and tart Cranberry Whiskey Sour.

Cranberry whiskey sour

I was in New York City for the holidays some years back, and ’twas the night before Christmas. That particular December had been brutally cold, and the snow was beginning to swirl around with the biting wind. I had to miss spending this time of year with my family, since I was working and stuck in Manhattan. As I called it a night and started the frosty trek home, I cut through the iconic Grand Central Station to get to my subway train. Not being in any rush to get back to my empty apartment, I thought I’d swing through one of the bars that GCS had stashed away amongst its maze of corridors.

I head downstairs to the food court, thinking maybe I’d grab a bite to eat first. The world famous Oyster Bar was packed, as usual, so I’ll see if Mendy’s is still open. They have good soup. I just missed it, turns out. Everything had closed, and this part of the concourse was getting emptier every second. I thought about where to go as folks around me rushed home to be with their loved ones, and started to feel that familiar sadness that grips so many of us around this time of year.

I walked back up the stairs, past the Hudson News and let my mind wander as I moseyed around, searching for the perfect spot. Under an arched entryway, hidden from the rest of the bustling station, was a dark and cozy tavern. Poking around as I slide in, I soon discover this might just be the place I’m looking for. In fact, I’m the only one here. Except for the bartender, a jolly and round fellow with a snow white beard, rosy cheeks and a twinkle in his eye. I was startled at the sight of him, especially on Christmas Eve, but thought nothing of it. I sat down at the bar…. where a drink was already waiting for me.

The familiar looking barkeep winked and nodded toward the cocktail. “This should warm you up.”

I looked at the dark, brown and orange-hued tipple before me and took a long, savoring sip. It looked like a Whiskey Sour, but the tart and robust explosion of cranberry surprised me. In fact, it made me smile. The smoky mixture of the bourbon heated me inside and out, from my belly to my toes. The cranberry and orange flavors that swam around this Sour brought back memories of Christmases past… those early and brisk mornings where you ran out to find that Santa had left you presents under the tree, tables full of food and drinks to fill you up and the smiles and laughter of my loved ones. I was spending the holiday by myself this year, but suddenly I didn’t feel so lonely. I’d call my family tomorrow, and see them soon enough before the new year… that seasonal sadness had left, replaced with happy memories and the fuzzy feeling that this delicious Cranberry Whiskey Sour had gifted me. I went to thank my mysterious and friendly mixologist, but he was gone. And the bar I sat in began to grow darker every second.

I finished my cocktail and bundled up for the rest of my journey home, a little flushed now and filled with holiday cheer.

What is a “Sour”?

The first time a Sour cocktail was documented was back in 1862, when Jerry Thomas described the drink in his book “How to Mix Drinks”. Many historians believe the Sour had existed and been enjoyed for at least a century before, having evolved from a medicinal concoction that helped sailors combat scurvy and seasickness. While the base spirit can be swapped out and interchanged, the mix itself is made up of lemon and/or lime juice, simple syrup and sometimes egg whites for a frothy top.

What is the Best Bourbon to Use in a Cranberry Whiskey Sour?

A good top-shelf rye-whiskey or barrel-aged bourbon will always be comfortably at home in any Sour. Recently I discovered the strong and powerful joys of a nice cask-strength bourbon, which will definitely give your Cranberry Whiskey Sour a memorable kick. Cask-strength spirits aren’t diluted by the storage process and tend to be much stronger than your average alcohol. Some of these bourbons can be anywhere between 90-100 proof, with some even reaching strengths of 125. Using one of these spirits in your cocktail will definitely warm you up on a winter’s night.

Cranberry whiskey sour
Servings 1 serving
serving 20 minutes


  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • 1 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1 ounce 100% cranberry juice
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • Cinnamon sticks for garnish
  • Orange peel for garnish optional
  • Sugared cranberries for garnish optional


  • Fill a glass with crushed ice and add 1 or 2 cinnamon sticks.
    Cranberry whiskey sour
  • In a cocktail shaker, combine bourbon, lemon juice, cranberry juice, and simple syrup with ice. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds.
    Cranberry whiskey sour
  • Strain the mixture over the prepared glass with crushed ice and cinnamon sticks.
    Cranberry whiskey sour
  • Garnish with an orange peel or sugared cranberries if desired, and serve immediately.
    Cranberry whiskey sour


Calories: 188kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 0.2g | Fat: 0.1g | Saturated Fat: 0.01g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.03g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.01g | Sodium: 10mg | Potassium: 61mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 14IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 1mg
Cranberry whiskey sour

FAQs & Tips

Cranberry whiskey sour

Similar Cocktails to the Cranberry Whiskey Sour

With the Sour being a staple of cocktail culture since the 1860s, and possibly long before that, there are so many different versions and similar drinks to choose from. Where does one start once they discover some new flavor obsessions? Twist & Toast has a mighty collection of delicious recipes for you to make at home, so here’s just a few to start with:

  • Amaretto Sour – This smoky and nutty flavored cocktail is a smooth Sour to start with.
  • New York Sour – Add some red wine to the mix to make yourself a Big Apple inspired treat.
  • Midori Sour – Go green with this Japanese liqueur-flavored beverage.
  • Pisco Sour – The brandy-like spirit makes for a perfect Sour companion in this popular version of the cocktail.

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