My Go-To Holiday Cocktail – Quick, easy, festive, and low in sugar!

65 comments

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I’ve never been a big fan of cocktails due to how sweet most of them are made. The only thing worse than a hangover is an alcohol and sugar hangover, don’t you think? I’ve had a few bad experiences in my younger years drinking those cheap, 2-litre bottles of sickly sweet coolers. The thought of drinking something so sugary now makes me a bit queasy. Since I’ve become more sensible in my years (or at least my mom says so), I now enjoy coming up with cocktail recipes that aren’t loaded with sugar and other junk. My go-to drink is usually a vodka soda with lime and sometimes a splash of cranberry juice. Simple, yet flavourful. It just lights up a room!

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All without a lick of food dye. Best of all, it takes seconds to throw together. Thankfully, you don’t have to make a simple syrup for this cocktail, so you can get back to the party and out of the kitchen. If you’re like me and you usually leave the drinks to the last minute, you’ll appreciate how easy this comes together without anyone being the wiser.

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Sparkling Cranberry Lime Cocktail

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Festive, low in sugar, and super quick to throw together, this is a great last-minute holiday drink option for a party! Often referred to as a "Cape Codder", this mix of cranberry + lime + vodka is sure to please the folks who aren't crazy about sweet drinks. I love adding club soda instead of using all cranberry juice to give it a bit more bite and a pretty sparkle. The recipe below makes one large (16-ounce) glass, so feel free to increase the servings as you see fit. This cocktail comes in at under 100 calories and just 6 grams of sugar (or, if you omit the agave, only 3.5 grams of sugar).

Yield
1 (16-ounce) glass
Prep Time
Cook time
0 Minutes
Total Time

Ingredients:

  • 1 ounce vodka (about 2 tablespoons)
  • handful fresh cranberries (or thaw frozen)
  • 2-3 lime slices
  • ice
  • 1/4 cup 100% pure unsweetened cranberry juice
  • 1 cup club soda
  • Agave nectar or other liquid sweetener, to taste (I use 1/2 teaspoon agave)

Directions:

  1. Add the vodka into a 16-ounce tall glass. Now add a handful of cranberries and a couple lime slices. Add the ice on top.
  2. Pour in the cranberry juice followed by the club soda.
  3. Add a squeeze of lime juice (if desired) and agave to taste. Stir to combine.
  4. Enjoy immediately!

Tips:

Note: 1) For a mocktail, simply omit the vodka and add a couple extra tbsp of cranberry juice. 2) For a fun variation, try pomegranate juice + arils instead of cranberry juice and cranberries.

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Our first snowfall of the season arrived just in time for my photo shoot earlier this week. What luck. Mind you, I almost bailed on the wet snow while desperately clutching my camera for dear life, but that serves me right for going on the deck in my slippers. I’ll never learn.

Have a great weekend!

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{ 65 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jesse @OutToLunchC November 29, 2013

This is such a fun recipe! I usually end up making a juice for my holiday cocktails. My favorite is really similar, I juice cranberries,apples and a little but of lemon and mix it with a splash of club soda. I also like to make a green juice with spinach, pears, lemon and ginger and mix it club soda. That way I can serve a festive red and green drink!

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2 Emily - It Comes Naturally Blog November 29, 2013

I tend to stick to soda water with ice and a slice so it looks like an alcoholic drink (I’m not a big drinker). I’d try this, but I can’t find 100% unsweetened cranberry juice for love nor money, it’s all got sugar and or water added :-(

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3 Maura November 29, 2013

I find it in the natural food section of Superstore and Sobeys. I live in New Brunswick, which is the land of lack of choices and natural foods! It is expensive, mind you! I now make my own in my juicer…so much easier and cheaper! :-)

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4 Angela (Oh She Glows) November 29, 2013

Yes I find it in the natural section too or other natural food grocers. It’s expensive, but a little bit goes a LONG way! Feel free to make it in a juicer like Maura does and I imagine you could make it in a Vitamix too and then strain it through a sieve. :)

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5 Anna November 29, 2013

Emily – you can buy Biona pure organic cranberry juice in the UK. You can get it in some health food shops or online from sites like Vit Shop or Goodness Direct

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6 Erica { EricaDHouse.com } November 29, 2013

Looks delicious! I rarely drink but hate standing around empty handed at Holiday parties. This is perfect!

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7 Maura November 29, 2013

Angela – Your slipper ventures were worth it! I love how the cranberries are reflected in the glass in the last pic!
And…YUMMMM!

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8 Angela (Oh She Glows) November 29, 2013

hah thanks!! Eric and my mom both commented on that to me too. :)

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9 sara November 29, 2013

perfect pictures! makes me want one now (and it’s 9:30 am!)

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10 Shundara@SavyNaturalista November 29, 2013

I love cranberry juice, especially in a cocktail! I agree a sugar and alcohol hangover is the worst especially from those oh to sweet coolers.. Remember your boots for the next shoot in the snow :)

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11 Kate November 29, 2013

I switched to gin and tonic for exactly the reasons you’ve named here — everything else just had too much sugar. Awful, awful hangovers. I’ll have to try this cocktail as well this season!

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12 Kelli December 1, 2013

Hi Kate,

Sorry, not meaning to burst your bubble, but tonic water actually has quite a bit of sugar in it…. one can has 33 grams of sugar, compared to 42 in a can of Coke. I LOVE gin & tonic as well, and I remember being blown away when I found out just how sugary a seemingly water-like drink actually is…. it just doesn’t seem fair!

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13 Kate December 1, 2013

WOW. Well, thanks! Now I’ll know better…that will teach me to do my research before spouting off, I guess :) Probably my hangovers ended due to a combination of the clear liquor and the fact that I don’t like gin and tonics as much as what I was drinking before, so I drank fewer of them.

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14 Alex @ Kenzie Life November 29, 2013

I love the cranberry/lime combination and the fact that you don’t need a simple sugar for this, because I’m too lazy to make one and I’d rather be enjoying time with my friends :) I also like that it can easily be made non-alcoholic for those who can’t/don’t drink! Everybody wins!

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15 Mallory @ Because I Like Chocolate November 29, 2013

Love it! Holiday cocktails are the best! Great pictures too :)

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16 Jennie November 29, 2013

This is so pretty and perfectly festive. I know what you mean about sugary cocktails – I used to love them in my university days, but I just can’t stand them now.

I had the PERFECT Cosmo on a cruise last year – it was so bright and fresh – the bartender actually juiced the lime fresh, as well as the cranberry juice (I watched, it was amazing) and then shook the juices with the liquors. It was brilliantly pink and tart. Siiiigh.

Oh, I pre-ordered your book :) So excited to receive it in the mail next year.

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17 Angela (Oh She Glows) November 29, 2013

that sounds lovely! Making fresh cranberry juice is an option here too – just adds a couple more steps and more clean up, I suppose.
Thanks for your pre-order Jennie!

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18 Lou November 29, 2013

Ooooo! That makes my lips pucker just thinking about it! Sounds really tart and delicious! I like cocktails that make me feel like I’m being *almost* healthy. ;-)

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19 Nikki @ The Road to Less Cake November 29, 2013

Yum! I love vodka and cranberry together.

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20 Nicole November 29, 2013

This looks sooo delicious! I have printed the recipe and totally bringing it to Christmas dinners!

Thanks for always having such awesome recipes :)

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21 Tracy November 29, 2013

I make a similar cocktail but use ginger ale in place of soda!

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22 Ting November 29, 2013

I think unsweetened pomegranate juice would make for a promising substitute if you can’t find cranberry!

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23 Shel@PeachyPalate November 29, 2013

I haven’t drank in over a year and half now…but this looks gorgeous!!! I think it might be time!

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24 Monica November 29, 2013

I have been an admirer of your blog for over 2 years now. Your pictures are beautiful, and todays picture is just so perfect and clean looking that I felt I had to leave a comment just to let you know. Btw I have made alot of your recipes and my husvand loves them, especially your protein bars, he is obsessed with them. Thank you for your beautiful blog and great recipes. :)

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25 Angela (Oh She Glows) November 30, 2013

Hi Monica, Aw, thank you! That means a lot to me :) Thanks so much for reading and trying out the recipes :) Sounds like your husband and mine would get along real well (he also loves the bars I make).

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26 Kathy @ Olives and Garlic November 29, 2013

What a great twist on an old classic. Would love one right now.

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27 Averie @ Averie Cooks November 29, 2013

Stunning photography and you’re making me very thirsty! And you’re so right…hangovers with a sugary detour are even worse than just your standard hangover! lol

Love that you made this without even a drop of food coloring. Nature’s got the best colors, doesn’t she! pinned

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28 Christine (The Raw Project) November 29, 2013

This looks wonderful, I want one now too! Thanks!

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29 Emma November 30, 2013

oooh I love me a cocktail and ones with cranberry and vodka are my favourite. Such lovely photography and colours and yes, tart is always better than super sweet.

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30 Danielle November 30, 2013

This is my go to cocktail too! I usually use rum or rye, the later of which is a bit odd but I like it! I love this drink because I can water it down a lot with sparkling water which makes me drink more water. As you’ve shown it is also pretty!

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31 Ceara @ Ceara's Kitchen November 30, 2013

This looks amazing and the perfect holiday cocktail! I love that it does not contain a ton of sugar! I miss the Canadian snow – send some to Belgium! :D

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32 Chelsea @ Chelsea's Healthy Kitchen November 30, 2013

I used to love sweet drinks too, but now they just make me pucker. I tend to go for red wine these days, but this is a cocktail I could definitely see myself drinking!

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33 Charlie November 30, 2013

Cocktails in restaurants and bars are always too sweet! But I do like to make cocktails on my own, it is always so much better. This one must be delicious, I love tart cranberry juice!

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34 Alyssa December 1, 2013

Beautiful! I’m not a cranberry drink fan but this one you make look so pretty that I want to make it anyways!

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35 Anna {Herbivore Triathlete} December 1, 2013

This is a beautiful holiday cocktail Angela! I too love the last photo, gorgeous!

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36 Marcel Perez December 1, 2013

We tried this recipe and it tastes great! But of course without the alcohol since we don’t drink. Check out therawfoodcouple.com or facebook.com/therawfoodcouple for more recipes.

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37 mary December 1, 2013

What a beautiful set up! Super festive :-)

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38 Christine @ Gotta Eat Green December 1, 2013

This is my go-to cocktail too! Vodka, soda, and a splash of lime juice. I like to add cranberry when it’s around or even orange juice. Beautiful photos!

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39 Wendy December 2, 2013

Yummy! Easy and fun!

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40 Lori Andersen December 2, 2013

This cocktail looks absolutely yum! Can’t wait to try it! Love Poms and may try that variation first!!! B-)

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41 Jessica December 2, 2013

unreal, made them for my xmas party ant it was a huge hit!

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42 Linda Wagner @ Linda Wagner Nutrition December 2, 2013

So pretty, I love adding fresh cranberry, it’s the perfect finishing touch!

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43 suzanne December 2, 2013

What a fun drink! I am looking forward to trying it —and searching for some unsweetened cranberry juice! Gorgeous photos too Angela!
BTW – I made your kale salad for thanksgiving – it was delicious! I have some of the lentil/mushroom balls in the freezer from last time I made them (the day you posted I think!) and cannot wait to eat them again on Wednesday for dinner :-)

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44 Tania December 2, 2013

This looks amazing…and I have everything needed to make this at home. Boo…come on 5pm!!! :P

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45 Tess @ Tips on Healthy Living December 2, 2013

This would have been perfect for Thanksgiving! I will definitely have to make these for Christmas. Would you substitute to make it sweeter?

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46 Joshua Hampton December 2, 2013

I love how festive this cocktail looks. It’s perfect for the holidays.

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47 Megan Forde December 2, 2013

I absolutely love your website! I just started to eat on the vegetarian and vegan side and you inspire me to change my life every time I come on your website! I am looking forward to all the apple cider and Christmas cookies that are served, however I would love some cute Christmas cookie options that are vegan.

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48 Jade Bowie December 3, 2013

Hi Angela – I tried this cocktail when family came over on the weekend. We used gin instead of vodka, and it made it even more of a holiday drink. It was delicious and as you said, not too sweet. It will definitely be a hit over the holidays :)

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49 Kate December 3, 2013

Hooray for not-too-sweet over the holidays! Sometimes I feel like I can feel my teeth rotting away over the month of December…

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50 Jenna December 3, 2013

This looks so refreshing!! Loved these photos

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51 Ruth Bush December 3, 2013

This website has taught me so much. I recently made hte cranberry pear sauce and choc peanut butter pillow cookies for thanksgiving and my fam loved it all! I am looking forward to making MORE recipes for Christmas and for having fun with my family and our pets. LOVE YOU!!!!

Sincerely,

Ruth B

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52 Emily December 3, 2013

wow these pictures are amazing..and that is my favorite cocktail as well!

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53 Erica December 3, 2013

This is absolutely amazing!! I can’t get enough of this drink!

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54 Gisele Dunn December 3, 2013

A very pretty shade of red!

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55 Jenni December 3, 2013

This cocktail recipe looks amazing! I’m def. going to make this one this season! Thanks for sharing :)

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56 Shannon December 3, 2013

Cannot wait to try this, looks absolutely delicious
xo

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57 Kara December 4, 2013

You could even keep the cranberries frozen, and have pretty little ice cubes that won’t dilute your drink when they melt!
Or you could freeze the cranberries in water and make pretty ice cubes that way as well!

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58 Katie @ Produce on Parade December 5, 2013

I’ve never been big on spirits but this looks great! Thanks for sharing!

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59 Jen December 7, 2013

I am enjoying this drink right now! It is great! I forgot the cranberry juice but made my own. Since you add the whole cranberries anyway, I just boiled the bag of cranberries with 1 quart of water, had instant juice and cranberries…. Haha, my improvising skills are getting a lot better these days!

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60 Angela (Oh She Glows) December 8, 2013

great idea!!

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61 Elyse @myveganp December 9, 2013

Agreed – the world needs far less sugary sweet cocktails! This is beautiful! Thanks for sharing.

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62 Kristina December 9, 2013

This looks yummy even without the vodka which is good for an expecting Mama :)

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63 Alexis December 10, 2013

I can’t wait to try this!

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64 gayle van pelt December 5, 2014

When I want a wholesome fruit juice, I make my own juice. I get a gallon jug, mine has a spout I take a bag of whole fresh(it can be frozen as I buy many bags of fresh cranberries because they are in season)
I take my bag of cranberries and wash and rewash them. I make sure I take out any that are white, bruised etc out. I pour them into my Vita mix or any strong blender and fill it up with water and frozen apple juice for sweetness and pulverize away. I either add very very little sugar, honey or agave. Pour all this into my gallon jug. I especially
love this because I am using whole cranberries and fresh frozen apple juice and yes float a few in your glass for presentation. I myslef do not drink alcohol.

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65 trina September 15, 2015

so refreshing! this has always been my favorite drink- light and festive. also, if you are staying away from alcohol, you can omit the vodka and still feel festive!

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