Cranberry Moscow Mules are refreshing winter cocktails. Fizzy, gingery with the light taste of lime and cranberry. This festive cocktail is a spin on a traditional Moscow mule perfect for the holiday season.
Eggnog and Mulled Wine are favorite cocktails for holiday parties but this thirst quenching Moscow Mule recipe is perfect for holiday gatherings too. Our cranberry version is a fun twist for a holiday Moscow Mule served in a cold copper mug.
Flavored with homemade cranberry simple syrup (easy recipe), it harnesses the tart cranberries turning them into a delicious sweetening syrup.
It’s great on the Thanksgiving menu, for sipping under the Christmas tree and a holiday party too. No cocktail shaker required for this delicious holiday cocktail!
Why is it called a Moscow Mule?
The naming was apparently random. ‘Moscow’ due to most Americans associating vodka at the time with Russia and ‘mule’ because of the kick of ginger flavor. No one knows for sure!
Moscow Mule cocktail origin
It’s the only cocktail I know of that is served in a copper vessel (usually in copper mugs) . Ironically it seems to have nothing to do with Moscow, or mules, but rather a deal struck in the 1940’s between a struggling vodka maker (John Martin who purportedly newly acquired Smirnoff) and an equally challenged ginger beer maker who by chance met at a bar and struck a partnership to improve their company standings together.
The story forks here with one version claiming the two men asked the bartender’s help to create a cocktail featuring both their products. The bartender is said to have come back with the now well-known cocktail in a copper mug.
A second version says a third party, a woman whose company made copper mugs, was part of the threesome, hence the copper mugs being woven into the creation.
No matter how the delicious Moscow Mule cocktail came about it now ranks as one of the most popular cocktails in the world. It’s refreshing and easy to drink with a strong component of ginger beer (a non-alcoholic carbonated ginger drink).
Ginger also eases stomach distress which with the rich foods and often overeating at this time of year is a perk too.
Cranberry Moscow Mules
We modified the original Moscow mule cocktail with the addition of Homemade Cranberry Simple Syrup. It adds a light cranberry flavor to the cocktail for a seasonal twist and can be used in other cocktails as well.
The cranberry flavors are a key ingredient for the festive Cranberry Moscow Mule along with ginger flavors in a frosty copper mug.
This guide on How to Make Simple Syrup gives lots of great information and easy recipes! The simple syrup for these Cranberry Moscow Mules is also included in the recipe below.
Recipe Ingredients Notes
Vodka. Use unflavored vodka for this cranberry Moscow mule recipe.
Lime Juice. Fresh lime juice tastes the best. Squeeze by hand or use a hand held squeezer which easily extracts the maximum juice and strains the seeds too.
Ginger Beer. This non-alcoholic beer is like ginger ale but has a stronger ginger flavor. Spicy ginger beer is a classic ingredient in Moscow mule cocktails It’s fresh flavored and perks up the taste buds!
Fresh cranberries. These are used to make the Cranberry Simple Syrup. Fresh cranberries or frozen and thawed can be used. Some extras can be floated on the cocktails as garnish too.
Lime wedges. For garnish. Lime slices can also be used.
How to make Cranberry Moscow Mules – Step-by-Step
STEP 1. Make the cranberry simple syrup
Combine the granulated sugar, water and cranberries in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and stir to dissolve the sugar.
Simmer until the berries have popped (2-3 minutes). Remove from heat and allow to fully cool.
Strain through a fine mesh sieve and store in the refrigerator.
STEP 2. Make the Moscow mule
Using a copper mug or cup combine the vodka and lime juice. Add 3-4 ice cubes, pour in the cranberry simple syrup and pour ginger beer in to fill. Garnish with a lime wedge.
Frequently Asked Questions
The history about this is not totally clear. It seems it was either what the bartender who developed the cocktail used and it stuck, or a copper mug maker was part of the original cocktail development. But gorgeous copper mugs are a signature of this delicious cocktail.
Yes you can!
Substitute ginger ale. It has a slightly milder ginger flavor and will still be delicious.
More recipes you’ll love!
Cranberry Moscow Mule with Homemade Cranberry Simple Syrup
Ingredients for Cranberry Simple Syrup:
- 1 cup Granulated Sugar
- 1 cup Water
- 1 ½ cups fresh Cranberries
Ingredients for a Cranberry Moscow Mule (per cocktail):
- 1 ½ ounces unflavored Vodka
- ½ ounce Lime Juice
- 1 ounce Cranberry Simple Syrup
- 4 ounces chilled Ginger Beer
- Garnish: lime wedges
Instructions for Cranberry Simple Syrup:
- Combine the sugar, water and cranberries in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
- Allow to simmer until the berries have popped (2-3 minutes) and remove from heat. Allow the mixture to full cool.
- Strain through a fine sieve and store the simple syrup sealed in the refrigerator.
Instructions for Cranberry Moscow Mule:
- Combine the vodka and lime in a copper cup. Add 3-4 ice cubes, pour in the cranberry simple syrup and fill with ginger beer. Garnish with a lime wedge.
Originally published: December 27, 2015
Roger Edward Faultersack says
OK Toni, Which kind of ginger beer? the soft drink or the alcohol ginger beer?
Going to mix up the cranberry simple syrup today
Toni Dash says
Ginger Beer is actually non-alcoholic Roger.
Heather Perine says
What a tasty cocktail! I love a moscow mule..and this cranberry version was delicious!
Emily Flint says
We loved this easy and festive cocktail at my party! Love the ginger and cranberry combo!
I love the festive addition of cranberry simple syrup to one of my favorite drinks! I will be making these for the holidays!
I’m a sucker for a good seasonal drink and you just can’t go wrong with a mule!
Tracey Giordano says
So happy I found this recipe!! So delicious and festive!
This is an extra delicious mule! I love the extra kick cranberry. I had no idea that they didn’t have a connection to Moscow, what a fun bit if knowledge!
These are so fun! We made them for a holiday party and everyone loved them. Not only are they delicious, but they are so pretty too!
This is my favorite iteration of Moscow Mule, and my favorite recipe. I made this for the first time during Christmas 2019, and it has been my favorite cocktail ever since. It’s always a hit whenever I serve it, and it’s so perfect for the holidays. I am making this again for a work virtual holiday party, and I;m thrilled to share the recipe with my coworkers.
Toni Dash says
How fun Andrea! I’m so glad you love the recipe. I too love the flavors and how refreshing they are. Enjoy your party and happy holidays! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave your comment.
Drinkware Essentials says
Looks great…interested to see how the cranberries and ginger pair up. A high quality ginger beer like Fever Tree or Q is required for any Mule. Nice recipe Toni!