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Easy Cranberry Bourbon Smash Cocktail Recipe

I think there is a real beauty in mixing fresh fruit with whiskey that is underappreciated in our cocktail culture. While we may be fine with a peel of orange or lemon in our whiskey, it isn’t too common to see a quarter of a peach or fresh strawberries in the drink. I’m trying my own take on the bourbon smash and creating a delicious Easy Cranberry Margarita Recipe.

What is a Bourbon Smash?

A bourbon smash is a whiskey smash made specifically with bourbon, lemon, mint, sugar, and ice. A cranberry bourbon smash just adds cranberry as the additional fruit component.  

A cranberry bourbon smash cocktail

What are the Origins of the Smash?

Smashes are wonderfully underappreciated cocktails, especially on the west coast (if you are from the south you are likely much more familiar with these). Juleps fall loosely into the family of drinks called smashes, as do drinks like mojitos

The smash family is pretty wide because at its core, the only characteristic of a smash is that you actually smash something. This means both mojitos and juleps are smashes, even though they have wildly different flavorings. 

What Pairs with a Cranberry Bourbon Smash?

When it comes with what to pair a cranberry bourbon smash with, I recommend pork. The spices and complexity of the bourbon are not lost on a heartier meat. Additionally, the citrus and cranberry acidity is welcome through some of the fattier pieces of meat. 

What You Need To Make This Drink

Necessary Ingredients

Ingredients needed for a cranberry bourbon smash cocktail

When it comes to whiskey, there are several options you can select from. We are going to use Maker’s Mark 46 for the pronounced vanilla and caramel flavors. This will also tie in nicely with the cranberry sauce which adds complexity, depth, and sweetness to our cocktail. 

Overall, cranberry sauce is a really good middle ground between lemon juice and bourbon, as it shares and compliments both of those flavors. The lemon wedges we’re adding in help bring a bright acidity to the drink. 

Finally, I added mint leaves to the cocktail. I was originally planning to use 5 mint leaves since I try to only bruise the leaves while muddling rather than macerating them. At the last minute, I decided to increase the ratio to 10 mint leaves. This drink is quite concentrated in flavor, and I think the extra mint is needed to maintain the profile.

A shaker and a muddler for a cranberry bourbon smash cocktail

Tools Required

To make this Easy Cranberry Margarita Recipe you will need the following tools:

  • Cutting board
  • Chef’s knife
  • Muddler
  • Shaker
  • Strainer 
A cranberry bourbon smash cocktail

Cranberry Bourbon Smash Cocktail

Yield: 1 Serving
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 oz. Bourbon Whiskey
  • 3 lemon wedges
  • 1 tablespoon cranberry sauce
  • 10 Mint Leaves

Instructions

  1. Add cranberry sauce, lemon, and mint to the shaker and muddle
  2. Add bourbon and ice, and shake vigorously for 10 seconds 
  3. Fill a rocks glass with ice about half way 
  4. Strain drink into glass
  5. Garnish with mint and strawberry
  6. Enjoy and drink responsibly

Nathaniel Lee is an avid cook, drawing on his decades of home cooking and fine dining experience. With inspirations like Alton Brown and Gordon Ramsey, Nathaniel focuses on simple processes to make amazing food.