Cranberry Orange Sage Martini

Nov 8th
Cranberry Martini

This Thanksgiving I was not hosting dinner and was instead invited to a friend’s home for dinner, which made my holiday much less hectic (phew!).  I was charged with bringing a couple side dishes and of course a cocktail!  So, since I wasn’t cooking a whole dinner, I had plenty of time to perfect my cocktail.

First, I decided I was going to make some sort of Vodka martini since most of the dinner guests were partial to Vodka.  I wanted to use Thanksgiving flavors and settled on sage, but then discovered with some experimentation that sage was too potent on its own.  Back to the drawing board I went, and for the second attempt I decided to go the sweet rather than savory route with cranberry, and tried to incorporate the sage since that was my original intent.

With some prototypes, this cocktail was born. The sage might sound weird to add to the cranberry and orange, but it strangely works and is very subtle, giving the cocktail that hmm, what is that factor that keeps its imbiber guessing.  And while I served this on Thanksgiving, it actually seems appropriate for Christmas as well because of the red and green colors – in fact it might be even better suited for Christmas than Thanksgiving!


  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1 ounce cranberry simple syrup (recipe follows)
  • 4 dashes Fee Brothers orange bitters
  • dry vermouth
  • 2 sage leaves
  • 3 cranberries
  • martini glass
  • muddler
  • cocktail pick


Chill the martini glass while mixing your cocktail by adding a few ice cubes and cold water to it.  Place one sage leaf into the bottom of the martini shaker and add the vodka, simple syrup, and bitters and lightly muddle the sage leaf.  Add ice to the martini shaker and give the cocktail a vigorous shake.  Dump the ice and water from the glass, add about a teaspoon of vermouth to the glass and swirl it around, coating the inside of the glass.  Dump the vermouth and strain your cocktail into the glass.  Take the remaining sage leaf, place it in the palm of your hand and clap once or twice, releasing the sage essence.  Garnish the cocktail with the sage leaf by floating it on top and add a cocktail pick with three cranberries on it.  Now, embrace the holiday season with a sip!

Cranberry Simple Syrup, Courtesy of LearnToPreserve


  • 3 cups fresh cranberries
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vodka


Rinse the cranberries and pick through them, discarding any that look old.  Place all the ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer until cranberries have all burst, about 15 to 20 minutes.  Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a medium bowl and let the strainer sit over the bowl until the syrup has cooled to room temperature, about 1 hour.  Add one tablespoon of vodka to the mixture (to preserve it), stir it, and then place the syrup in a bottle or jar with a tight fitting lid.  The mixture can then be refrigerated for a month or more.

And don’t forget about the leftover cranberries!  You can simply eat the cranberry remains, since they will be almost like a cranberry sauce consistency or can use them in another recipe.  I placed about two tablespoons of the cranberries at the bottom of a drinking glass and topped it with sparkling water.  It makes a pretty and refreshing non-alcoholic spritzer.