As someone who has been developing cocktails for over a decade, I’ve often had the task of creating zero-proof drinks that look like their boozy counterparts. While there is no shame in not imbibing, sometimes you just don’t want to explain to nosey people why you’re not drinking (no, Aunt Nancy, we still aren’t having kids 😮💨). This cranberry mule mocktail recipe is perfect for when you want a fun beverage, but you’re taking a break from booze. It's perfect as is for people who don't drink at all. It’s also easy to adapt for younger party guests at a holiday party.
It’s a riff on a virgin Moscow mule, which is another favorite mocktail of mine! This recipe was inspired by my Yule Mule recipe, which is a cranberry Moscow mule created as a festive Christmas cocktail. Unlike the Yule Mule which uses rosemary simple syrup, this version uses this cranberry simple syrup recipe to give cheery flavor to a classic cocktail. But it’s not just for the holiday season, this cranberry mule mocktail is sure to lift your spirits during any time of year!Jump to Recipe
💕 why you'll love this cranberry mule mocktail recipe
💥 tart & zingy. Cranberry simple syrup gives this beverage a burst of tangy flavor that complements the lime juice and ginger beer in the recipe! The final result is sweet, tart, and tangy!
⏱️ quick & easy. This cranberry ginger beer mocktail comes together in a matter of minutes. It’s also a great recipe to make with kids in the kitchen!
🙌 perfect for anyone. This is the perfect drink for everyone, whether they're looking for an alcohol-free option or want a tasty and vibrant drink. It’s the perfect holiday movie night mocktail, because everyone loves holding the classic copper mule mugs!
For the Drink
- alcohol alternative - there are an increasing number of distilled zero-proof spirits on the market today that add that little something extra to mocktails. Brands such as Seedlip, Ritual, and Lyre’s offer non-alcoholic stand-ins for any mocktail you can imagine! I used Seedlip Spice 94 in this mocktail.
- cranberry simple syrup - This cranberry simple syrup is a fun and clever way to add sweetness and flavor into your mocktail. It adds a double layer of cranberry flavor to the cranberry juice in this mocktail, meaning even more berry flavor for you! The bonus? When you whip up a batch, you can enjoy cranberry flavor in so many more beverages throughout the week!
- cranberry juice - choose a good quality 100% unsweetened cranberry juice, not a cranberry juice cocktail beverage. Many cranberry juices on the shelves of the grocery store are blends using other fruit juices like apple juice or grape juice. Choose one that contains only cranberries, if you can, for the best flavor!
- limes - the base flavor of a traditional Moscow mule is lime and spicy ginger beer. You’ll need fresh lime juice for the best flavor in this mocktail. I know you’re probably tired of hearing “fresh is best,” but in recipes like this where there are only a handful of ingredients, it really is the best option to choose the freshest ingredients you can find.
- ginger beer - ginger beer is not equal to ginger ale. Most ginger ales have ginger flavoring added, not real ginger. Ginger beer is usually the real deal, but you’ve still got to check the label. Avoid cans and bottles that boast “ginger flavor” and instead opt for ones that include real ginger as an ingredient. I believe Betty Buzz is the best ginger beer, if only for the fact that I have loved Blake Lively since her Serena Vanderwoodsen days. XOXO. 💋
For the glass & garnish:
- dehydrated lime wheels - these dehydrated lime wheels are an optional garnish, but they make the presentation of this mocktail extra special! If you don’t have the time to make your own, you can buy a bag here. Otherwise, you can garnish using lime wedges cut from fresh limes!
- cranberries - using fresh cranberries as a garnish is an excellent flavor cue for this festive mocktail!
- ice - a good mule mocktail requires a lot of ice to keep the copper glass nice and frosty! Opt to use crushed ice for the best flavor. Want an even more chilled glass? Stick your mugs in the freezer to get them EXTRA frosty.
Step 1: Fill your mule mugs with ice to chill the glasses.
Step 2: Juice one lime to get ½ ounce of lime juice and add it to the mule mug.
Step 3: Add the cranberry juice to the mule mug and the cranberry simple syrup.
Step 4: Pour 1 ounce of alcohol alternative into your chilled cocktail glass.
Step 5: Carefully add in 5-7 drops of bitters.
Step 6: Give your cocktail a stir.
Step 7: Top with ginger beer to fill the glass.
Step 8: Garnish with a few cranberries and a dehydrated lime wheel. Serve immediately.
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💡tips & tricks for getting it right
🍽️ serving tips
Choose your glass
- mule mugs - Mules are traditionally served in copper mugs. While you don’t have to use a copper mule mug, it is statistically proven to be more fun. 😛
- highball or collins glass - Choose a glass that has at least a 16 ounce capacity to hold the 10-12 ounces of liquid + the ice volume.
How and when to serve it
- holiday gatherings - Serve your virgin cranberry mules at a holiday party as a booze-free option to your guests. This way, no one will know who’s drinking and who’s not. 😜
- movie marathons - Host a holiday movie marathon with your zero-proof cranberry mules!
- flavor clue - A garnish is a great way to give flavor clues to your guests. I prefer to include ingredients that are actually used in making the drink.
- cranberries and lime - Skewer a few cranberries onto a cocktail pick and stick a dehydrated lime wheel in the crushed ice.
- special sparkle - For an even fancier twist, you can roll your cranberries in sugar to make them sparkle!
ℹ️ troubleshooting tips
Even though making a mocktail is a pretty straightforward process, things can go wrong. Try these troubleshooting tips if you find yourself with a not-so-sippable drink.
- too sweet - if your drink is too sweet, you can add a dash or two of bitters to mellow things out. If you are serving this to children or folks who are recovering alcoholics, opt to use a bitters brand that has zero alcohol. Most brands of bitters are made with alcohol, so they do contain trace amounts of alcohol in every serving. This brand is one that is 100% alcohol free.
- not cranberry enough - if you are craving even MORE of a cranberry flavor, you can add in more cranberry juice and less ginger beer.
- too tart - cranberries are tart fruits, and lime can be very acidic as well. If your drink is too tart, add in more cranberry simple syrup or gingerbeer to balance things out.
⚖️ scaling tips
This recipe is super easy to scale up for a party! If you want to make a large batch of these mocktails, you can mix the base of juices and simple syrup together in a pitcher first, then add ginger beer just before serving. Then, you can pour each mocktail into a mug straight from the pitcher!
You can also mix the ingredients in a punch bowl for a big batch if you’re hosting a party! Mix the juices and simple syrup together first, then add the ginger beer just before your guests arrive. You can also freeze water inside a large bowl to make a mega ice cube to float in the center of your punch bowl!
🔆 top tip
You can also make your own cranberry juice if you have a juicer or high-speed blender. Just be sure to strain your homemade juice well to keep it from being grainy.
♻️ substitutions & variations
Missing an ingredient? No problem. Check out these tried-and-true substitutions, or comment below with your question. I’m here to help you troubleshoot!
- lemon - If you can’t find fresh limes (it happens!) you can substitute in lemon in a pinch.
- ginger ale - you can substitute ginger ale for ginger beer if you can’t find it. Fever tree makes a nice quality ginger beer that doesn’t have bits of real ginger in it, but is still nicely flavored.
Feeling like a rebel?! 😈 Feel free to stray from the recipe card using these variations, or leave me a comment with your own!
- herby - use a sprig of rosemary or fresh mint to garnish this drink, and substitute the cranberry simple syrup for rosemary simple syrup or mint simple syrup for a burst of herbaceous flavor closer to this spiked Yule Mule recipe!
- orange - cranberry and orange are a classic holiday flavor combination! Add a splash of orange juice and garnish the drink with an orange slice instead of lime for this citrusy holiday twist!
- sparkling water or club soda - if you don’t have ginger beer, can’t find it, or aren't a fan of the flavor, you can substitute club soda or sparkling water. It won’t have the same gingery bite, but it’ll still be delicious!
🧰 equipment needed & storage tips
🧰 tools needed to make your mocktail
- cocktail shaker - while you can mix the mule mocktail right in the mug, a cocktail shaker helps to blend the flavors together. I love using my Elevated Craft cocktail shaker because it’s insulated which means you don’t have to worry about your hands getting cold!
- mule mug - copper Moscow mule mugs are the traditional choice for mules, so if you want to keep things looking classic choose to use some 100% copper mule mugs like these! For a more budget friendly option, choose copper plated mugs.
- cocktail picks - using a cocktail pick to skewer the cranberries for the garnish keeps the berries nicely positioned in place!
The ginger beer is bubbly and effervescent, so it is best to serve this mocktail immediately after you make it.
If you do need to store it, make sure to use a bottle with a stopper, like these from Bormioli Rocco, and use caution when opening the bottle again. Pressure can build up from the bubbles! Do not store for more than 48 hours to maintain maximum bubbliness.
Moscow mules were not invented in Russia, contrary to popular belief. It’s said the original mule was invented in LA in the 1940’s. The cocktail was named because American’s associated vodka with Russia, and the ginger beer had a “kick like a mule.” The Smirnoff company marketed the beverage and the rest is history.
Moscow mules are served in a copper cup that is called a mule mug. They are usually 16-20 ounces in capacity and made of either copper or copper plated metal. When filled with ice, the metal conducts the temperature well making it extra frosty!
Ginger beer used to contain alcohol when it was first made, because it was made by fermenting ginger root. Nowadays, it’s all nonalcoholic. But authentic ginger beer has real ginger added to it and is bolder and spicier as a result. Ginger ale is usually ginger flavored
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Cranberry Mule Mocktail
- 1 cocktail glass of choice mule mug or highball glass
For the Drink
- 1 ounce alcohol alternative such as Seedlip Spice 94
- 1 ounce cranberry simple syrup
- 7 dashes non-alcoholic citrus bitters about ½ teaspoon of a brand such as All The Bitters or Dram
- .5 ounce lime juice
- 2 ounces cranberry juice unsweetened
- 4 ounces ginger beer Betty Buzz brand, recommended
For the Garnish
- fresh whole cranberries for garnish
- dehydrated lime wheels for garnish
- Fill your mule mugs with ice to chill the glasses.
- Add in 1 ounce of alcohol alternative to your cocktail glass.
- Juice one lime to get ½ ounce of lime juice and add it to the mule mug.
- Add the cranberry juice to the mule mug.
- Add in the cranberry simple syrup.
- Carefully add in ½ teaspoon of bitters (7 dashes or 20 drops)
- Give your cocktail a stir with a cocktail spoon.
- Top with ginger beer to fill the glass.
- Garnish with a few cranberries skewered on a cocktail pick and a dehydrated lime wheel. Serve immediately.
🧯food safety & other information
Food safety is an important ingredient in any recipe for success! Here are some tips to keep you safe in the kitchen!
- If you are serving this mocktail to anyone who is strictly alcohol-free, avoid using any ingredients that contain alcohol. Many brands of bitters contain alcohol, even at trace amounts.