When you’ve been crafting homemade cocktails for over a decade, people tend to ask you for advice on holiday entertaining. Entertaining during the holiday months is always a bit of a different feat than other year-round entertaining. Stakes can be high— maybe it’s the fact that you’re surrounded by people you only see at this time of year (who keep asking you the same three questions about your job/relationship/life 🙄). Whatever it is, you need recipes that you know will work, and this Yule Mule, or Cranberry Moscow Mule, recipe is one you'll want to keep around! This classic cocktail gets an update with a blast of rosemary flavor to complement the cranberry and ginger.
This rosemary simple syrup inspired this recipe, because most Christmas cocktails are garnished with rosemary but don’t actually contain any rosemary which is…weird! A garnish should serve as a hint or a “flavor clue” for what the drinker can expect to taste. By adding in rosemary simple syrup, we can play up the herbaceous and wintery vibes! Try also making some cranberry ice cubes to amp up the festive factor in this drink and give your aunt Linda something else to ask you about at the dinner table. 😅Jump to Recipe
💕 why you'll love this yule mule recipe
🎁 fun & festive. This is the perfect cocktail for getting into the holiday spirit! The festive flavors of cranberry and rosemary mix together with ginger beer and vodka to make the perfect Christmas mule!
🎛️ customizable. While traditional Moscow mules are made using vodka, you can use whatever liquor you like! This is a great cocktail for parties because each guest can choose their favorite liquor!
🥳 party perfect. When you’re entertaining during the holiday season, its always convenient to have a big batch cocktail at the ready. This Christmas mule is perfect for scaling up to serve a crowd using either a pitcher or a punch bowl!
for the drink
- rosemary simple syrup - Rosemary simple syrup helps to give an herbaceous flavor to this holiday mule that is sure to surprise your guests! It adds a layer of warmth that is hard to replicate, so it’s definitely worthwhile to take the extra time to whip up a batch!
- cranberry juice - Choose a nice quality unsweetened cranberry juice if you are able to, not a cranberry juice cocktail blend. Check the label on your juice, sometimes brands will use a blend of apple or grape juice instead of just cranberries.
- ginger beer - Even though the name suggests it, ginger beer doesn’t actually contain alcohol. It used to, in the days it was made from fermenting ginger with sugar and yeast. But nowadays, it’s a carbonated soda containing real ginger. The spice of the ginger beer gives this drink a bit of bite and an extra kick compared to ginger ale. Make sure to choose a brand that does contain real ginger, not ginger extract or ginger flavor. I love using Betty Buzz ginger beer. Fever Tree also makes a nice ginger beer, but make sure ginger root is on the ingredient label for the best flavor!
- vodka - Vodka has a clean flavor profile that really lets the cranberry flavor sing loud and proud. While you don’t need to go to the tippy top of the shelf for this cocktail, it’s wise to choose a good quality vodka like Absolut or Tito’s. If you want to splurge, Grey Goose and Ketel One are great top-shelf brands of vodka.
- lime - You’ll need fresh lime juice for this cocktail. Fresh juice really makes a difference, but if you can’t find good limes near you (it happens!) you can use bottled lime juice in a pinch.
for the garnish
- cranberries - you will need 3 fresh cranberries per cocktail as a garnish. You can also make some cranberry ice cubes if you have extra berries after making these drinks, or you can make a batch of cranberry simple syrup for other festive drinks!
- rosemary - make sure to have one sprig of rosemary for each cocktail. If you are able to grow rosemary near you, it’s a worthwhile herb to grow! It is hearty and is a wonderful herb to have as part of a culinary or cocktail herb garden! If you can’t grow rosemary, you can usually find it for sale in a clamshell at your local grocery store. You may need to buy a couple packages to get enough rosemary sprigs if you’re making multiples.
See the recipe card for quantities.
Step 1: Prepare the garnish by spearing three cranberries onto a sprig of rosemary. You may need to strip the rosemary of the leaves on the bottom to make room for the cranberries.
Step 2: Fill a your preferred glass with ice to chill the glass.
Step 3: Pour in .5 ounce of lime juice to the cocktail glass.
Step 4: Next, add in .5 ounce of rosemary simple syrup into the glass.
Step 5: Add 1 ounce of cranberry juice to the glass, and stir it with a cocktail spoon.
Step 6: Pour in 2 ounces of vodka.
Step 7: Top with 4 ounces of ginger beer, or enough to fill the glass.
Step 8: Garnish with your rosemary and cranberries, and serve immediately.
Hint: Rosemary is a strong flavor, but it is balanced in this cocktail by the tart flavors of cranberry and lime juice! If you need your drink to be sweeter, you can always add in more ginger beer in place of more simple syrup.
💡tips & tricks for getting it right
🍽️ serving tips
How and Where to Serve Your Yule Mules
- Holiday Parties - this is the perfect drink for the Christmas season! Serve it at your next holiday party or any of your happy hours throughout November and December!
- Christmas Movie Night - not up to hosting? No worries! Cozy up with a pitcher of mules for your next holiday movie marathon. After all, Hallmark movie tears are salty, so you’ll need something to sweeten things up.
Choose your glass
- mule mug, highball glass, or collins glass - you’ll need a cup that can hold at least 12 - 16 ounces of liquid for this Yule Mule. The custom glass of choice is a copper Moscow mule mug. Want to really make an impression? Try serving this in glass mugs with cranberry ice cubes!
- chill out - chill your glass if you have an extra 15 minutes by popping it in the freezer or filling it with ice while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
- A sprig of rosemary spears three cranberries, making the perfect garnish for your Yule Mules!
- The rosemary gives a clever flavor clue to your guests, while also hinting at the whole “Christmas tree” thing!
- No rosemary? No problem! Use a lime wedge to garnish this drink if you can’t find fresh rosemary and cranberries near you!
ℹ️ troubleshooting tips
While mixing up cocktails can generally be straightforward, things can go awry! Thankfully, things are a bit easier to fix compared to cooking mishaps. Try these troubleshooting tips if your cranberry mules didn’t come out quite right.
- too tart - if your cocktail is too tart, it’s possible that your limes were very acidic. Citrus varies widely in flavor, depending on when and where your limes were harvested. Use more simple syrup or ginger beer to balance things out.
- too sweet - If your drink is too sweet, add in more lime juice, cranberry juice, or vodka to balance the sweetness out.
- too weak - not boozy enough for you? Add in more vodka, .5 ounces at a time, until you get the desired balance of booze you’re after!
⚖️ Scaling Tips
Making this cocktail for a party? Follow these instructions (and the ones in the recipe card below) to make a pitcher of Yule Mules!
- Combine the base of the cocktail by mixing together the lime juice, vodka, rosemary simple syrup, and cranberry juice.
- Refrigerate the base mixture for up to 24 hours.
- Just before serving, pour 4 ounces of the cocktail base into each glass, filled with ice.
- Top each glass with ginger beer and garnish with a rosemary sprig that has 3 cranberries on it.
🔆 top tip
If you are making these for a crowd, make one drink first as a tester!
Taste your cocktail just before serving to determine if you need any more ginger beer or simple syrup.
Lime juice can be very acidic, so if your limes are extra tart or tangy, you may want to use extra simple syrup or ginger beer to balance things out.
♻️ 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!
- simple syrup - description of how to substitute
- ginger ale - Ginger ale is acceptable to swap for ginger beer if you can’t find it near you or if you prefer a more subtle ginger flavor.
- lemon or orange - If you can’t find fresh limes near you, or none of them look quite…right at the local grocery store, you can substitute using lemon or orange juice! In fact, orange juice goes perfectly with cranberry! Want a little extra something in your cocktail? Try adding a few dashes of orange bitters!
Feeling like a rebel?! 😈 Feel free to stray from the recipe card using these variations, or leave me a comment with your own!
- extra gingery - add in .5 - 1 ounce of ginger liqueur for an extra burst of ginger flavor!
- add cranberry liqueur - cranberry liquor is a fantastic way to play up the flavor of cranberry in this cocktail! One of my favorite brands is Tattersall Cranberry Liqueur! Add .5 - 1 ounce of cranberry liqueur for an additional blast of berry!
- use another liquor - you can use rum, whiskey, or even tequila for this mule! Stick to a clear liquor for a more pure taste. An aged liquor like rum or whiskey will add more depth of flavor, which can be a nice addition! Spiced rum would also be wonderful in this cocktail.
🧰 equipment needed & storage tips
🧰 tools needed to make Yule Mules
- Moscow mule mug - the traditional glass for a Moscow mule is a copper mule mug. Legend has it that the girlfriend of the guy who invented the Moscow Mule had a factory warehouse full of copper mugs she needed to use up. Ever since Moscow mules have been served in copper mugs! You can use any glass on hand that can hold up to 16 ounces of liquid, like a highball glass or Collins glass. I also love using double-walled glasses or insulated tumblers since this drink is extra frosty.
- cocktail spoon - this cocktail is super easy to make because you can mix it right in the mug! All you need is a cocktail mixing spoon to stir things up! Of course, you can use a regular spoon if you don’t have a cocktail mixing spoon. But, if you’re trying to look super professional and wow your friends and family, a cocktail mixing spoon is an easy way to look like a pro for less than 10 bucks! 😉
- cocktail shaker - this is an optional extra if you want to prepare a batch of mules at the same time. You can mix the base ingredients for 2-3 mules in a shaker then pour 4 ounces of liquid into each cup and top with ginger beer!
It’s best to enjoy this cocktail shortly after it’s made.
However, if you make a large batch and have leftovers, you can store them in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Be make sure to stir well before serving again.
Cranberry juice cocktial is cranberry juice mixed with water and sugar. Cranberry juice is usually 100% pure unsweetened cranberry juice, so it’s tart just like a cranberry is!
I won’t force you to, I promise! It is worthwhile to take the extra 15 minutes to mix it up, but I understand not wanting to dirty any additional pots and pans. If you want to skip making the syrup, but you still want the rosemary flavor, you can muddle a sprig of fresh rosemary with the vodka and lime juice to get a bit of that wonderful herbaceous flavor in your cup!
Rosemary has a very “green” and herby flavor with hints of warmth and citrus. Too much of it can taste soapy, like lavender, so be sure to follow the instructions for making your rosemary simple syrup!
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Yule Mule (Cranberry Holiday Mule with Rosemary Syrup)
- 1 cocktail glass of choice Moscow mule mug or highball glass
- 2 ounces vodka
- .5 ounce lime juice freshly squeezed
- .5 ounce rosemary simple syrup
- 1 ounce cranberry juice unsweetened, not cranberry juice cocktail
- 4 ounces ginger beer can sub ginger ale
- Prepare the garnish by spearing three cranberries onto a sprig of rosemary. You may need to strip the rosemary of the leaves on the bottom to make room for the cranberries.
- Fill a your preferred glass with ice to chill the glass.
- Pour in .5 ounce of lime juice to the cocktail glass.
- Next, add in .5 ounce of rosemary simple syrup into the glass.
- Add 1 ounce of cranberry juice to the glass, and stir it with a cocktail spoon.
- Pour in 2 ounces of vodka.
- Top with 4 ounces of ginger beer, or enough to fill the glass.
- Garnish with your rosemary and cranberries, and 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!
- Always enjoy alcohol responsibly, and never give alcohol to anyone under 21 years of age. For more information about responsible alcohol consumption, click here.