Cape Codder (Vodka Cranberry)

The Cape Codder cocktail — AKA the Vodka Cranberry drink — is a crowd-pleasing cranberry drink. Learn how to make this classic and make it yours.

Gold rimmed glasses contain red liquid, ice cubes and whole cranberries with a squeezed lime wedge on a toothpick as garnish. Scattered in the foreground are whole cranberries on a white surface

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Cape Codder recipe

Everyone needs a go-to drink they can order.

Even if you love craft cocktails, it’s a good idea to have a simple two- or three-ingredient drink that you can order.

They’re great choices for bars with limited choices, like airplanes, restaurants and open bars, and they’re easy to make at home if you want to mix up a quick drink.

The Cape Codder is a classic cocktail that’s not too boozy, not too sweet and just a little tart.

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • The Vodka Cranberry an easy-as-pie cocktail with just 3 ingredients.
  • You can mix it right in the glass — no cocktail shaker is required.
  • It’s full of fruity flavor and isn’t too boozy. The perfect balance!

With fresh fruit flavors, the Cape Codder is a great drink for summertime and the holiday season alike.

In fact, it is a great festive drink for a holiday party because it is so easy to make and full of cranberry flavor.

An overhead view shows ice cubes in a red cocktail garnished with a gold skewer containing a lime wedge and cranberries. On the white surface rest other red berries.

Vodka Cranberry Cocktail Variations

The Vodka Cranberry comes in a few forms and names.

Also called the Cape Cod drink, the Cape Codder is the most common version. It gets its name from the coastal town of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, which is known for its cranberry bogs.

It usually has lime juice added, but it doesn’t have to. It can have no citrus or you can switch out the lime juice to make one of this cocktail’s variations:

  • Sea Breeze brings in a bit of grapefruit juice.
  • Bay Breeze adds a splash of pineapple juice.
  • The Madras uses orange juice.
  • The Woo Woo uses peach schnapps in lieu of lime juice.
  • And then there’s the Cosmopolitan, which is a relative of the vodka cranberry with orange liqueur added.

No matter how you make it, the vodka cranberry is a simple cocktail with lots to love.

A vodka cranberry cocktail garnished with lime and cranberries sits on a light wood cutting board surrounded by limes and cranberries

Ingredients

You only need three ingredients for a Cape Codder. It’s so easy to mix up and it makes the most perfect cocktail with just a hint of lime.

Vodka

Pick up a bottle of quality vodka. Anything cheap will have a stronger alcoholic taste. Others

As I always say, use the best you can afford — my go-to advice for anything with drink mixing. In my Vodka 101 crash course, I’ll tell you how to pick out a bottle of vodka. My go-to brands right now are Tito’s, Deep Eddy and Absolut.

Cranberry juice

Cranberry juice is easy to find in the grocery store. Look in the juice aisle or the refrigerated section. Ocean Spray is a very common brand.

Make sure you are buying real cranberry juice. Be careful of buying cranberry juice cocktail, which is loaded with extra sugar. But 100% cranberry juice is still very sweet on its own.

Sometimes you can find cranberry juice with other flavors mixed in, like cherry, blueberry or grape. But don’t worry — any of these would be delicious!

Lime juice

Fresh lime juice is tantamount for any margarita, ideally juiced from fresh limes.

While store-bought lime juice is great in a pinch, it’s not the wisest to use in drinks where lime is a star player. Bottled concentrate will still taste good, but if you have time to squeeze some limes, don’t skimp.

If you’re planning to make a lot, I totally see the need for a shortcut! See if your grocery store sells pre-squeezed, fresh lime juice.

I usually use a citrus squeezer to juice my limes. If I am making a lot of cocktails, I use my electric citrus juicer.

A gold spoon enters a glass of red liquid with ice cubes. Whole cranberries and a skewer with lime wedge and cranberries are scattered around with another cocktail in the background

How to make a Cape Codder

Making this vodka cranberry recipe is so easy! You don’t really even need any bar tools, just a glass and a spoon.

Fill a rocks glass (affiliate link) with ice. Add cranberry juice and a shot of vodka.

Squeeze in a lime wedge for a bit of citrus flavor. (Totally optional — it’s good without the lime or use lemon juice instead!)

Then gently stir them together. Garnish cranberry vodka cocktail with a lime wheel, fresh cranberries or maybe even sugared cranberries at the holidays.

Berry ice cubes with cranberries frozen inside would also be super pretty for a garnish.

If you want to use a highball glass (affiliate link), simply use a 2:3 ratio of vodka to cranberry juice.

A vodka cranberry cocktail sits in the center of the image with a lime and cranberry skewer garnish. Another cocktail is out of focus in the background with whole cranberries and a lime throughout the image.

Substitutions

  • Lemon Cape Cod: Substitute lemon juice for lime juice.
  • Bay Breeze Cocktail: Substitute pineapple juice for lime juice.
  • Sea Breeze Cocktail: Instead of lime juice, use grapefruit juice.
  • Madras Cocktail: Use orange juice instead of lime juice.
  • The Woo Woo Cocktail: Instead of lime juice, use peach schnapps.

If you find the cranberry juice makes your drink too tart, stir in ¼ to ½ ounce of simple syrup, to taste.

Sometimes people lighten the drink up with club soda or ginger ale, but that’s up to you!

A red cape cod cocktail with ice sits in a gold rimmed glass. Another glass with the same crimson cocktail sits behind on a cutting board. Whole cranberries and whole limes are scattered around both drinks.

More easy cocktails

More cranberry cocktails

Gold rimmed glasses contain red liquid, ice cubes and whole cranberries with a squeezed lime wedge on a toothpick as garnish. Scattered in the foreground are whole cranberries on a white surface

Cape Codder (Vodka Cranberry)

Yield: 1 cocktail, easily multiplied
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

Serve up a round of Cape Codders, the ultimate Vodka Cranberry drink with a splash of lime juice.

Ingredients

  • 3 ounces cranberry juice
  • 2 ounces vodka
  • ½ ounce lime juice
  • lime wedge, for garnish
  • cranberries, for garnish

Instructions

  1. To a rocks glass filled with ice, add cranberry juice, vodka and lime juice. Stir together.
  2. Garnish with a lime wheel and/or fresh cranberries.

Notes

Common Substitutions & Related Cocktails

  • Lemon Cape Cod: Substitute lemon juice for lime juice.
  • Bay Breeze Cocktail: Substitute pineapple juice for lime juice.
  • Sea Breeze Cocktail: Instead of lime juice, use grapefruit juice.
  • Madras Cocktail: Use orange juice instead of lime juice.
  • The Woo Woo Cocktail: Instead of lime juice, use peach schnapps.

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 1 Serving Size: 6 ounces
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 173Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 6mgCarbohydrates: 11gFiber: 0gSugar: 9gProtein: 0g

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