Cranberry Champagne Cocktail

My go-to festive holiday cocktail, a simple three-ingredient combination of cranberry juice, orange liqueur and champagne that works especially well for brunches when low-alcohol (or no alchohol) are extra appreciated.

Cranberry Champagne Cocktail ♥ Just three ingredients for low-alcohol, make-ahead festive holiday cocktails.

Just Three Ingredients. Homestyle Holiday Cocktails, Fresh & Festive, Mostly Make-Ahead. An Approachable Winter Classic & Easily Adaptable to Other Seasons and Occasions. Perfect When Cooking for One or Two. Scales from Small Carafes to Large Pitchers. Easy DIY. Naturally Gluten Free. So Good!!

A "Just" Recipe

What's that, you ask? Well, once upon a time, "just" recipes were a staple of Kitchen Parade columns.

You see, back in its print days, Kitchen Parade was specially designed/crafted for two equal-length side-by-side columns with a banner spanning the two. If you're on a computer or laptop, not a phone, you can see how this looked in digital form in my debut column in 2002, for Cheese Gnocchi Pie. My first website designer thought I was crazy for insisting that the digital form match the print form. (Since then, for lots of reasons, I've mostly fully switched to a single-column width online format.)

The recipe was on the right column. An introduction and ALANNA's TIPS were on the left. When the left column was shorter than the right, I added a short "just" recipe.

Each one started with "Just ...". It was a recipe so simple it could be conveyed in only a sentence or two.

For this holiday cocktail, first published alongside the wonderful Cranberry Pudding, the "just" recipe read:

For a festive starter for a holiday brunch or weeknight supper, just mix 1 cup low-calorie cranberry juice with 3 tablespoons Grand Marnier. To serve, place an ice cube in champagne glasses, fill halfway with the juice, then top with champagne. If there's time, add a cranberry and a twist of orange.

That's it. That's all you need, right?

Sorry. The business of food blogging requires more words, explanations and insider tips that have been part of Kitchen Parade way back to its first column in 2002. Luckily, there's a Skip Straight to the Recipe for readers who just want the recipe, no more, at least for a first look.

Cranberry Champagne Cocktail ♥ Just three ingredients for low-alcohol, make-ahead festive holiday cocktails.

About This Recipe: Cranberry Champagne Cocktail

  • This is a simple but festive low-alcohol cocktail, a mix of cranberry juice, orange liqueur and champagne. It's fresh and refreshing, a good choice for a late-morning brunch or the start to a holiday meal.
  • Distinctive Ingredients = Cranberry Juice + Orange Liqueur + Champagne
  • Short Ingredient List = all the above, that's it!
  • For Garnish = whole or sliced cranberries + sliced orange
  • These cocktails are so pretty! The festive appearance is all thanks to the colorful cranberry juice.
  • Who else feels overwhelmed by complicated cocktails? Me too. This is NOT that cocktail. No syrups to cook. No muddling. No twisting. If you have champagne glasses, sure, use them. If not, just use a wine glass or a drinking glass. This is a totally straight-forward cocktail.
  • This is a time-friendly recipe, it takes just minutes to mix and can be mostly done way ahead of time.
  • This is pantry-friendly recipe, it's easy to keep all the ingredients on hand for an impromptu celebration.
  • This can be a calorie-friendly recipe, that's why I use low-sugar cranberry juice.
  • As written, the recipe yields enough for about five cocktails. The number of servings will vary based on the size of your glasses. If you're prepping for a crowd, I do recommend measuring in your own glasses; just add an ice cube or two to the glass, then measure how much liquid is needed to fill the glasses halfway to see how much of the Cranberry-Orange mixture you'll need for however many glasses you think will be needed. In my experience, for brunch, most people drink one cocktail then switch to coffee; at a dinner meal, most people drink one or two cocktails, then switch to wine for dinner.
  • This recipe works especially well for those Cooking for One or Two served just a glass or two at a time.
  • So good! I hope you love these cocktails!

  • If you share my penchant for low-alcohol beverages, check out my Thirst-Quenching, Low-Cal, Low-Alcohol Drinks, two for summer, one for winter.
  • Still not quite what you're looking for? Check out my other recipes for beverages and drinks.
Cranberry Champagne Cocktail ♥ Just three ingredients for low-alcohol, make-ahead festive holiday cocktails.

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Cranberry Champagne Cocktail ♥ Just three ingredients for low-alcohol, make-ahead festive holiday cocktails.


Hands-on time: 5 minutes to pre-mix, 5-10 minutes to serve
Chill time for the pre-mix: An hour or two up to a day or so
Makes enough for about 5 glasses of champagne
  • 1 cup cranberry juice (see ALANNA's TIPS)
  • 3 tablespoons orange liqueur such as Gran Marnier or Cointreau (see TIPS)
  • 1 whole or sliced fresh cranberry (see TIPS)
  • 1 small, thin slice of fresh orange
  • 1 - 2 ice cubes (see TIPS)
  • Cranberry-Orange Pre-Mix
  • Chilled champagne or sparkling wine or club soda or ginger ale or something bubbly ...

CRANBERRY-ORANGE PRE-MIX Combine the cranberry juice and liqueur. If there's time, chill the mixture until ready to serve. This can easily be done the day before a holiday brunch, say, or in the morning before a holiday dinner or dessert party, say.

PER GLASS Such easy mixology! Drop a cranberry and a small slice of orange into each glass. Add one or two ice cubes. Fill the glass half-way with the Cranberry-Orange Pre-Mix. (For a group, I like to do this just a few minutes before people arrive.) Top off the glass with champagne.

FOR A NON-ALCOHOLIC (NA) COCKTAIL Have a chilled carafe of extra plain cranberry juice at the ready. Substitute club soda or ginger ale for champagne.

ALANNA's TIPS One year, I made the cocktails with unsweetened cherry juice, thinking that the color would be the same, the juice would be fine too. Cherry juice cocktails turned out just as pretty but no, dang it, the taste just wasn't there. The "sour" of cranberry juice is part of what makes this cocktail work. I think you could add a good splash of lemon juice to the cherry juice, say, to give it a similar sourness. For cranberry juice, I've long used the low-sugar or so-called "diet" bottles of cranberry juice but nowadays, there's also 100% unsweetened cranberry juice. Even a small bottle of orange liqueur can be pricey. So unless I can actually use the whole bottle, I look for tiny sample bottles that will do the trick for a couple of bucks. Mostly, I see these little bottles at actual wine and liquor stores versus grocery stores. I like to chill the cranberry juice and liqueur together in a pretty carafe but this is all show business, not required. If this mixture starts off cold, you may need just one ice cube. To avoid diluting the drink, freeze extra plain cranberry juice in an ice cube tray. Do make sure they'll fit your champagne glasses, though! Have you ever taken a close look at a cranberry sliced cross-ways? So pretty! These won't be eaten but they sure do look pretty in a glass.

FOR MORE INFO If you "skipped straight to the recipe," please scroll back to the top of this page for ingredient information, ingredient substitutions, tips and more. If you print this recipe, you'll want to check the recipe online for even more tips and extra information about ingredient substitutions, best results and more. See .
SEASONAL COCKTAILS Over the years, I've riffed on this basic concept for different seasons. For fall, I love apple cider, apple brandy and champagne with a bit of chopped apple. For summer, I love lemonade, limoncello and champagne with a slice of lemon. For the fourth of July, I like the idea of a white grape juice, that gorgeous blue liqueur called curaçao [pronounced KUR-uh-sow] and a raspberry! You get the idea!
Adapted from Gourmet (still so missed!) circa 2003

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Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail, you'll find my current address in the FAQs. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, for more scratch cooking recipes using whole, healthful ingredients, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

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