This Cranberry Pomegranate Cocktail is the holiday cocktail of your dreams. Made with cranberry simple syrup and pomegranate juice, it's perfectly sweet and festive. It's also delicious as a virgin cocktail.
(This recipe for Cranberry Pomegranate Cocktails was originally published in October 2012, but has been updated with new photos and content in 2018).
I have such a love hate relationship with pomegranates. I so love the idea of them and I love buying them, but then I so often dread opening them.
Sometimes they sit so long in my fridge that they go bad. And then I feel super sad and guilty because they're expensive. And sometimes difficult to find (last year, I went all winter without seeing a pomegranate in my regular grocery store. Luckily, I've seen them all over this year).
And when I finally do clear out some time in my schedule to open a pomegranate, I actually love doing it. There's something so calming and rewarding about retrieving all the arils and then snacking on them and topping my breakfasts with them (yogurt, oatmeal, quinoa, and more!).
I generally open them in a big bowl of water so as not to make a mess, though it's pretty inevitable that I end up with at least a few red splatters on my shirt. The other day, Chris thought I was bleeding on my face, but nope; just pomegranate juice!
Back in 2012 when I first dreamt up this cocktail, I couldn't find pomegranates anywhere, so I decided to simply use store-bought pomegranate juice. I actually still love this cocktail so much that, even though pomegranates are readily available, I kept it the same, but garnished it with some pomegranate arils, along with the cranberries.
This cranberry pomegranate sparkler is one of my all-time favorite cocktails and one of the things I look forward to most when winter arrives. I like to make it for me and Chris on random Friday nights leading up to Christmas, but you could also double the cranberry simple syrup and make this pomegranate cocktail for a crowd.
How to Make Cranberry Simple Syrup
If you know me, you know cranberry drinks are my everything during the holidays. There's not much I love more than making homemade cranberry juice, but I also enjoy a good cranberry simple syrup for all kinds of holiday cocktails.
If you can make regular simple syrup, you can make cranberry simple syrup (and trust me, you can definitely make regular simple syrup).
All you need to do is put cranberries, sugar, and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.
Once boiling, lower heat to medium low and let cook for another 10 minutes, just until the berries are bursting.
Then strain the juice into a bowl (I like to press down on the cranberries with the back of a spoon to extract as much delicious juice as possible) and pop into the fridge for a bit.
Cranberry Pomegranate Cocktail Recipe
Once cool, you're ready to make the rest of the cranberry pomegranate cocktail, which is basically the easiest thing in the world.
In a glass filled with ice, pour vodka, pomegranate juice, and lemon juice. Pour about 1 ½ oz. of the cranberry simple syrup into the glass and top with soda water. Top with some fresh cranberries and pomegranate arils for garnish.
I have to admit that I tried the cranberry syrup on its own and it was one of the best things ever. But it's even better when incorporated into a cranberry pomegranate cocktail.
There are a few things about this drink you should know. First of all, it's absolutely refreshing and sweet without being sickly so.
But even though it's nice and refreshing, it's still entirely festive and wintry… perfect for the colder weather and holiday season. You've got to get all those cranberries in while you can and as hard as it is to believe, Christmas is rapidly approaching!
How to Make a Virgin Cranberry Pomegranate Cocktail
I loved this cranberry pomegranate cocktail so much, I ended up making a virgin one, too. I had a lot of work to get done and didn't want to get crazy tipsy, but I wanted to keep sipping on it.
It's super easy to make alcohol-free... Just leave out the vodka! If you're mixing these one at a time, you can add vodka in for people who want it and leave it out for those who don't (and even make virgin ones for the kids!).
The mocktail version of this cocktail actually reminded me a lot of a raspberry lime rickey, but cranberry pomegranate lemon instead. Which, in my ever so humble opinion, is even better.
I think the cranberry simple syrup is especially fabulous with the soda water since it adds a lightness and some bubbles. And the pomegranate juice and lemon added a little bit more tartness and some other flavor layers.
How to Make This Cocktail for a Crowd
While the recipe below shows you how to make these cranberry pomegranate cocktails two at a time, you can also make a big batch of it to serve for a crowd or simply so you don't have to mix every time you want a refill!
The cranberry simple syrup recipe makes enough for about 5 cocktails, so for making a big batch, I recommend doubling the simple syrup recipe and then 5x the other ingredients.
Add everything into an ice-filled pitcher except for the soda water. When serving, top off each glass with soda water.
This big batch recipe will provide 10 servings.
There's so much more you could do with the cranberry simple syrup, too (besides drink it straight with a straw, which is what I wanted to do).
I'm pretty sure I want to simmer chicken in it. Or glaze a ham with it. Or make duck a l'cranberry. Or make cookies with it. Or make fudge with it.
I also think a cranberry milkshake would be pretty excellent, too. OK, I think you get my point.
But really, I just want to drink a million of these cranberry pomegranate cocktails. And I probably will since I have plenty of the simple syrup left and will probably purchase a pomegranate every time I go to the grocery store from now until April.
Let's see how many I actually open.
Do you open your own pomegranates or just buy the arils at the store?
More Holiday Cocktails
While this cocktail can be enjoyed any time cranberries and pomegranates are available, it's especially perfect as a holiday cocktail. If you're looking for more cocktails that will make your holiday gatherings more festive, check out some of my favorites:
- Cranberry Mojito
- Hot Spiced Cranberry Cocktail
- Cinnamon Pear Sangria
- Pomegranate Rosemary Gin Cocktail
- Apple Cider Bourbon Slush
- Cranberry Jalapeño Margarita
- Tropical Cranberry Sangria
- Gingerbread White Hot Chocolate (from White Kitchen Wine Wine
- Pomegranate Paloma (from Spices in my DNA)
Cranberry Pomegranate Sparkler
- 1 cup fresh cranberries, plus more for garnish
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup water
- 3 oz. vodka
- 3 oz. pomegranate juice
- 1 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Soda water
- Pomegranate arils, for garnish (optional)
- Put cranberries, sugar, and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, lower heat to medium low and let cook for another 10 minutes, until berries start bursting.
- Strain the juice into a heat-proof bowl, leaving the solids behind, and place bowl in fridge to cool.
- In a glass filled with ice, pour half the vodka, half the pomegranate juice, and half the lemon juice. Repeat with second glass. Pour 1 ½ oz. cranberry simple syrup in each glass and top glasses off with soda water.
- Garnish with cranberries and pomegranate arils, if desired
- Note that simple syrup recipe will make about 5 cocktails.
- If making for a crowd, double the simple syrup recipe and use 5x the other ingredients. Add everything into an ice-filled pitcher except for the soda water. When serving, top off each glass with soda water.
- Leave out the vodka to make delicious virgin cocktails.