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Rosemary Infused Cranberry Bourbon Martini Recipe

A Rosemary Infused Cranberry Bourbon Martini is a signature cocktail that’s festive, fragrant and fruity. It’s sure to be a hit at any holiday celebration.

Rosemary Infused Cranberry Bourbon Martini

Thinking About a Signature Cocktail

Each year as the Fall/Winter holiday season gets underway, I look forward to making a signature cocktail or two to serve at any holiday celebration I host or attend. I typically look towards a classic cocktail as inspiration and then see if I can come up with a great idea for the perfect holiday cocktail.

I particulary love creating holiday cocktails with cranberry juice because of its vibrant red color and fresh, fruity flavor. And, because fresh cranberries are in season from October through the end of the year, I try to incorporate them both into my food as well as drink recipes. This Cranberry Vodka Spritzer uses a puree from fresh cranberries that is absolutely delicious!

So, in my search for a new festive drink for the holidays, I looked for inspiration from that classic cocktail – the martini.

The Origins of the Martini

The martini has been around since the mid-1800’s. The origins are a bit murky, with some saying the name was derived from one of the ingredients (Martini vermouth) and others saying it was invented in or around the town of Martinez, California.

Regardless of the actual origins, there is agreement that this delicious cocktail had gin and vermouth and was often garnished with a lemon slice/twist. One of people’s favorite variations of this original old-fashioned cocktail is the vodka martini. And, these days you can find all sorts of other variations (e.g., Cosmopolitan, Lemon Drop, Saketini, Espresso Martini).

And let’s be honest, you look pretty cool drinking a martini (see Bond, James). A martini is a great drink to have at a party or at a bar/restaurant and the glassware is so unique. You know immediately what’s in the glass.

A martini is also an easy sipper. We’re not downing a shot or chugging a beer at a dinner party. We’re just enjoying a classic cocktail at whatever holiday celebration we happen to be attending.

Ok, so definitely martini-inspired and my friends and family will look good drinking this rosemary infused cranberry bourbon cocktail (definitely a crowd pleaser!). Where to go from there?

First – Bourbon

I thought bourbon would be a great base for a delicious drink. Why? Because I’m a bourbon lover!

Actually, in addition to bourbon being so popular and having so many options to choose from, the color is fantastic. I thought it would bring a depth of color to this classic cocktail that you just wouldn’t get with a gin or vodka.

So, I now have the base for the perfect cocktail for the holiday season. However, I have been asked – “what’s the best bourbon to use in this recipe?”. Frankly, if you have a favorite bourbon, you will probably be just fine.

As a fan of bourbon, I do tend to like higher quality (think non-rail) bourbon. I think it is smoother and I like to drink it on the rocks (lots of small ice cubes for me, a large ice cube or ice sphere for my husband!). So, naturally I like a higher-quality bourbon as I typically drink it without any mixers. 

This is a mixed cocktail. As with many simple bourbon cocktails, you can get away with a lower-quality bourbon because you are mixing in other ingredients. But I do believe, the better the ingredients, the better the recipe!

Rosemary Infused Cranberry Bourbon Martini

Next Up – Cranberries

I definitely wanted to do something with cranberries. I like creating recipes inspired by seasonal flavors. When you think about a delicious recipe you made and everyone enjoyed, it very well may have been the time of year married with the seasonal flavors that made the difference between liking something and loving it!

As I mentioned, I have a vodka cranberry cocktail recipe I really like and I love the color and flavor of cranberries. However, that uses fresh cranberries made into a puree instead of cranberry juice cocktail or unsweetened cranberry juice.

So, why not use the cranberry puree in this recipe? I simply wanted this to be an easy recipe. Using cranberry juice is going to be easier than using fresh cranberries and making those into a puree.

And, unsweetened cranberry juice is the way to go. I like to control how sweet my drinks are which is why this delicious cocktail includes agave nectar. I am able to achieve that perfect balance of sweet and tart using the combination of unsweetened cranberry juice and agave nectar.

Cranberry juice cocktail is already sweet and tough to back down unless you dilute with water. If you haven’t used unsweetened cranberry juice before, this is a great time to try it out!

So, I had the beginnings of a bourbon cranberry cocktail, but I thought it needed more. That more was rosemary!

The Finisher – Fresh Rosemary Sprigs

As I mentioned with cranberries, I like creating recipes using seasonal flavors. A great way to do that is to use spices and herbs to bring those seasonal flavors to life.

Fresh rosemary sprigs have such a distinctive fresh smell that definitely reminds me of the holidays. It’s actually part of a group of herbs known as the Christmas Herbs (along with others such as thyme and sage). And, in addition to fresh rosemary sprigs smelling great, they look great, too. 

In fact, fresh rosemary sprigs do triple duty. It’s an excellent ingredient in the martini. And, having a rosemary garnish makes the drink look fantastic as well as smell absolutely wonderful. Dried rosemary just won’t have the same affect on your drink as will fresh rosemary sprigs.

Ok, I now had my big three for the base of my holiday signature drink.

It’s Fun to Make a Rosemary Infused Cranberry Bourbon Martini 

If you haven’t made a lot of drinks before, this one is fun. You get to muddle and shake!

What is muddling? It’s just a semi-fancy word for smashing! 

In this case, you take the fresh rosemary sprigs, orange slices, cranberry juice and agave, put in the bottom of the cocktail shaker and smash with a muddler. This helps release juices and flavors so they better incorporate into the drink. If you don’t have a muddler, a wooden spoon will do.

Then we get to shake. Pour the bourbon, bitters and ice into the cocktail shaker containing your muddled ingredients, place the lid on top and shake away. I usually shake for about six seconds, but adjust as necessary. You’re really just trying to get it mixed well and cold from the ice.

And there you go! A festive cocktail that’s perfect for occasions from Thanksgiving to Valentine’s Day (or really any special day!).


Tips and Tricks for Making this Martini

  • Unsweetened cranberry juice is highly recommended, rather than cranberry juice cocktail. Unsweetened cranberry juice has a much more vibrant flavor than the cranberry juice cocktail and keeps the drink from becoming too sweet.  
  • You can use more or less agave to sweeten the martini to your taste.
  • I also recommend using a quality bourbon. My favorite bourbon is Woodford Reserve, but your favorite bourbon will likely be just fine.
  • Several batches can be made ahead of time and kept chilled in the refrigerator. Just make sure you give the drink a stir before serving.
  • I don’t recommend omitting the rosemary garnish. This is what gives this signature cocktail its wonderful holiday aroma and really adds to the overall flavor of the cocktail.
  • If you have guests at your party that would prefer a non-alcoholic drink, just omit the bourbon and bitters and top off the drink with a touch of sparkling water or club soda. It will be every bit as festive as the alcoholic version.
  • This cocktail can easily be doubled. If you want to make more than six cocktails, I would recommend making them one double batch at a time, so that you don’t overfill the cocktail shaker.
  • If you don’t have a cocktail shaker, a great option is using either a mason jar or protein shake “shaker”.

Ingredients Needed to Make this Rosemary Infused Cranberry Bourbon Martini

Full instructions can be found in the Recipe Card below

  • Oranges – You’ll need one orange to make orange curls (see notes in recipe card) and one orange to make orange slices to muddle in the cocktail shaker. I suggest using a navel orange so that you don’t have to worry about seeds.
  • Fresh rosemary sprigs – Rosemary both adds great flavor as an ingredient in the cocktail as well as a lovely aroma as a garnish.
  • Unsweetened cranberry juice – I prefer to use 100% unsweetened cranberry juice. This keeps the cocktail from becoming too sweet and gives it a bold cranberry flavor.
  • Agave nectar – You can adjust the amount of agave nectar to the achieve the level of sweetness you want.
  • Bourbon – Since this is bourbon-forward cocktail, I suggest using a quality bourbon. My favorite bourbon is Woodford Reserve, but your favorite bourbon will likely be just fine.
  • Angostura bitters – The flavor of this bitters is somewhat bitter and spicy, with hints of clove and cinnamon. A little goes a long way, but adds to the depth of the martini.
  • Peychaud’s bitters – This bitters has a primary flavor of anise and cherry, with hints of clove, orange and mint and also add to the overall flavor of the cocktail. I wouldn’t recommend omitting either one for this drink.
  • Ice – A good amount of ice should be used to insure an icy cold cocktail.

How to Craft this Rosemary Infused Cranberry Bourbon Martini

  • Muddle together orange slice, sprig of rosemary, unsweetened cranberry juice and agave nectar in a cocktail shaker.
  • Add bourbon, bitters and ice to cocktail shaker.
  • Cover and shake vigorously.
  • Strain into 3 martini glasses.
  • Garnish each drink with an orange peel curl and a sprig of rosemary.

Rosemary Infused Cranberry Bourbon Martini

More Festive Cocktails to Enjoy this Holiday Season:

Yield: 3 cocktails

Rosemary Infused Cranberry Bourbon Martini Recipe

Rosemary Infused Cranberry Bourbon Martini Recipe

This fragrant bourbon cocktail is the perfect festive cocktail for your holiday celebration.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes


  • 1 orange slice
  • 1 large sprig of rosemary
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cranberry juice
  • 2 tsp agave nectar
  • 1/2 cup bourbon
  • 2 dashes angostura bitters
  • 2 dashes peychaud's bitters
  • ice
  • orange peel curls for garnish (see notes)
  • rosemary sprigs for garnish


  1. Muddle together orange slice, sprig of rosemary, unsweetened cranberry juice and agave nectar in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Add bourbon, bitters and ice to cocktail shaker.
  3. Cover and shake vigorously.
  4. Strain into 3 martini glasses.
  5. Garnish each drink with an orange peel curl and a sprig of rosemary.


To make orange peel curls, take a paring knife or vegetable peeler and cut a thin slice of peel off the orange, about 3/4 inch wide. Trim all edges so that they're straight. Gently twist from both ends to form a curl.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 37Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 2mgCarbohydrates: 9gFiber: 1gSugar: 7gProtein: 0g




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