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Homemade Cranberry Liqueur


Cranberry Liqueur

Cranberry Liqueur

Photo © Molly Watson

I make big batches of this every year. I give some as gifts, but most of it goes towards making cheap sparkling wine into delicious cranberry kir royales, with the cranberry liqueur taking the place of traditional crème de cassis, at whatever holiday festivities we manage to pull together at our house. This has led to this concoction being called crème de cranberry by some. Of course, the real French would be crème de canneberge, but that's less funny somehow.

Note that the wine in this recipe gets cooked. No need for anything fancy. You want something you could drink (i.e. no "cooking wine"), but nothing more. Also, I like to use brandy at the end for the added flavor notes, but plain vodka works just fine, especially if you're going to use the final liqueur to mix in cocktails.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Cooling and Sitting Time: 4 hours

Total Time: 4 hours, 20 minutes

Yield: 1 generous bottle


  • 16 oz. fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 bottle (750 ml) red wine
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup brandy or other distilled liquor


  1. Rinse and pick over the cranberries, discarding any shriveled or icky ones.
  2. Combine wine and sugar in a medium pot and bring just to a boil, stirring as necessary to dissolve the sugar. Add the cranberries, reduce heat to medium low, and cook just until a cranberry or two pops, about 2 minutes. Remove pot from heat, cover, and let sit until cool, which will take a few hours. You can let it sit overnight, if you like.
  3. Strain mixture through a fine sieve or layers of cheesecloth. Add brandy or vodka. Transfer to a clean, sealable bottle.

The liqueur will keep a good long time at room temperature – it's sugar and booze, which are both preservatives. Feel free to keep it in the fridge, though, if storing it at room temperature makes you nervous. I make big batches every early winter, and keep a few bottles in the back of the fridge and they last perfectly well for over a year.

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