This Cranberry Calvados Cocktail is the best big-batch cocktail to make during the holidays. If you’re looking for something to serve to the grown-ups, this warm apple brandy, and cranberry cocktail is just what you’re looking for.
It’s no secret. I love warm and cozy cocktails. It started with apple cider cocktails and mulled wine (I sampled plenty between Halloween and Thanksgiving) and from there – I wanted to broaden my warm and cozy (and boozy) drink horizons.
I envisioned a warm and festive Christmas-y cranberry drink, so I called my sister for her input on getting this drink just right, and let me tell you, she knocked it out of the park. Within minutes, this warm cranberry calvados cocktail (aka the Cranberry Cuddle) was born.
This drink is dangerously delicious. It doesn’t taste boozy at all thanks to a tip from my sister (more on that later). This tasty brandy and cranberry cocktail will surely impress your guests this holiday season. Keep it warm in an Airpot or slow cooker and let your friends and family help themselves!
- Sugar – further sweetens the cranberry juice, cutting out any strong brandy flavor.
- Lemon Peel – The oils from the lemon peel infuse bright, citrus flavor into the drink.
- Ginger (peeled and sliced), Cinnamon Sticks (broken), and Whole Cloves – infuse the perfect blend of warming spiced flavor.
- Cranberry Juice Cocktail – has quite a bit of added sugar and is indeed super sweet but once it’s combined with the apple brandy, it’s perfect.
- Calvados (apple brandy) – is a type of brandy made from apples specifically distilled in Normandy (see below).
To garnish: whole cranberries, lemon slices, apple slices, and cinnamon sticks.
How to Make // The Steps
Step 1: Add sugar, lemon peel, ginger, cinnamon sticks, and cloves to a large Dutch oven or pot.
Step 2: Pour in cranberry juice.
Step 3: Stir to combine.
Step 4: Simmer for 30 minutes.
Step 5: Cool to room temperature. Pour into a large pitcher, straining out lemon peel and spices.
Step 6: Add Calvados to a pitcher and let mixture chill for 24 hours. This part is key. Everything marinates and it mellows the alcohol so when you drink it, it isn’t overpowering at all. Hence, why I described it as dangerous, because it goes down reallllly easy.
Step 7: To serve, add to a slow cooker and warm on a LOW setting. Or gently warm on the stove over low heat. Add to a preheated airpot. (I had no idea that you are supposed to add boiling water to the airpot before you fill it. It keeps it hot longer.)
Step 8: I can’t say enough good things about having an airpot. (I actually have two, I use them all the time.) I use it for hot chocolate and coffee to bring to games, hot apple cider for parties, the gingerbread house party. I love them. And obviously for my Cranberry Cuddle. I wrapped it in a scarf to make it look a little cuter, purely aesthetic reasons.
Step 9: Ladle into mugs and serve with a few cranberries, a squeeze of lemon juice, apple slices, and a cinnamon stick
My warm cranberry calvados cocktail is the perfect winter drink. This almost makes me crave a snow day.
What is Calvados?
If calvados is new to you, here is everything I know about it. Calvados is an apple brandy distilled in Normandy in northern France. The liqueur goes from an apple cider and further ferments into a brandy. As is, the flavor of Calvados is apple and floral forward but there’s no mistaken this stuff is a smooth brandy. Enjoy whatever is left in the bottle dry or over ice!
Tips & Tricks
- Just an important reminder! This recipe needs to be made in advance. The drink needs to sit in the fridge for a day to achieve the best flavor.
- You can also serve this drink cold. To serve cranberry calvados cocktail cold, simply skip warming it up and pour it straight from the pitcher into a tall glass with ice and garnishes.
- For a less sweet drink with more apple brandy forward flavor, use 100% cranberry juice instead of a cranberry juice cocktail. 100% juice doesn’t have any added sugar so it’s great for cutting back the sweetness in cranberry drinks.
- For a more festive flavor, simmer fresh herbs like rosemary and thyme with cranberry juice. Use more for garnish.
In a pinch, the calvados apple brandy can be replaced with one of the listed spirits. Adjust amounts to your tastes.
- Apple Jack Liquor
- Apple Cider
- Cheap Fruit Brandy – like pear, apricot, or peach flavored brandy.
- E & J Apple Brandy
Why are Cranberry Calvados Cocktail So Good?
- This calvados cocktail is a crowd-pleaser. It’s warm, cozy, and goes down easy.
- It’s super easy. No special mixologist skills are required. This drink comes together in a cinch.
- Great big-batch holiday cocktail to serve warm from a slow cooker and have your guests help themselves.
- Basic, no-fuss ingredients. You’ll be in and out of the store.
Yes. Calvados is a specific variety of apple brandy that is distilled in the Normandy region of France.
Calvados is a mild-flavored apple brandy that mixes well with sweet fruit flavors like apple, peaches, grapes, pears and apricots.
A non-alcoholic version will not taste the same without the brandy but that doesn’t mean it will not taste great! To make a non-alcoholic version, you can use apple juice or apple cider in place of the apple brandy and then follow the rest of the recipe as written.
How to Store //
Storing: This drink can be stored refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days. After 3 days, the flavors will begin to deteriorate and become bitter.instructions
Make-Ahead and Freezer Options //
Freezing: is not recommended.
More Holiday Cocktail Recipes
Cranberry Calvados Cocktail
- 1/2 cup sugar
- peel from one lemon
- 2- inch piece of ginger peeled and sliced
- 3 cinnamon sticks broken
- 10 whole cloves
- 1 64-oz. bottle cranberry juice cocktail
- 2 1/2 cups Calvados apple brandy, more to taste
- whole cranberries
- lemon slices
- apple slices
- cinnamon sticks
- Add sugar, lemon peel, ginger, cinnamon sticks, and cloves to a large Dutch oven or pot.
- Pour in cranberry juice. Stir to combine.
- Simmer for 30 minutes.
- Cool to room temperature.
- Pour into a large pitcher, straining out lemon peel and spices.
- Add Calvados to pitcher and let mixture chill for 24 hours.
- To serve, add to a slow cooker and warm on a LOW setting. Or gently warm on the stove over low heat. Add to a preheated airpot.
- Ladle into mugs and serve with a few cranberries, a squeeze of lemon juice, apple slices, and a cinnamon stick.