Spicy Cranberry Mule Mocktail Recipe

There's nothing better than enjoying time with family on the holidays, especially with a good, festive drink in hand. Often, the non-alcoholic options tend to be few and far between, at best being a cup of sparkling juice and at worst a glass of water. A good, spirit-free cocktail, though, doesn't need to be spiked with anything and can be just as good as any cocktail simply by adding a few bold ingredients. Moscow mules are typically made with vodka, lime, and ginger beer and are notoriously easy to make and even easier to drink. They're bubbly and refreshing but also spicy on the tongue, truly balanced drinks that leave an impression. For the 0% ABV version, recipe developer Michelle McGlinn amps up the spice using jalapeño peppers and balances the heat with a hit of sweet cranberry. With just a touch of cinnamon, this layered, complex mocktail will have you feeling festive and fun — and trust us, it won't feel like you're drinking juice, at all (that is, unless you drink really good juice).

The ingredients needed for a spicy cranberry mule mocktail

For the mocktail, you'll need a jalapeño, some honey, cranberry juice, and ginger beer. Ginger beer is typically non-alcoholic (it has less than .5% ABV), but double check the cans just in case. If using ginger beer feels uncomfortable, just swap for ginger ale, which is a little less dense and a lot less spicy but still plenty gingery. For garnishing the mocktail, you'll need cranberries, rosemary, simple syrup, sugar, and a cinnamon stick.

Step 1: Toss the berries in syrup

Toss the cranberries with the simple syrup in a small bowl.

Step 2: Spread sticky berries on a tray

Spread on a sheet tray, shaking any excess syrup off so that the cranberries are tacky but not wet.

Step 3: Toss with sugar

Gently toss with the sugar and let dry.

Step 4: Add pepper and honey to a glass

In a cocktail glass, add the jalapeño and honey.

Step 5: Muddle

Muddle until jalapeño is broken down.

Step 6: Add the cranberry juice

Add the cranberry juice and stir.

Step 7: Fill a mule mug with ice

Add ice to a copper cup.

Step 8: Strain

Strain the jalapeño mixture into the cup.

Step 9: Top with ginger beer

Top with ginger beer.

Step 10: Garnish and serve

Garnish with sugared cranberries, cinnamon stick, jalapeño slices, and rosemary to serve.

How can I adjust the spice level in my cranberry mule mocktail?

A regular Moscow mule can be considered spicy simply because of the ginger beer. Ginger, like wasabi or horseradish, has a sinus-clearing, sharp spice that tickles your nose more than burns your tongue. The jalapeño, on the other hand, can heat things up quickly in a much more confrontational way. If you love spice and want an especially spicy drink, drop in a few extra jalapeño slices and be sure to leave the seeds in during muddling. You can also swap the regular honey for hot honey, which is infused with chile peppers and will quickly make the drink hotter. For a last punch, garnish with extra jalapeño. You might not think this adds much to the drink, but you'll quickly learn how important garnishes are — leave your drink sitting too long, and those jalapeños on top will be burning your tongue. If this happens, just pour in a little more cranberry juice and honey to soothe the spice. To make this less hot, remove the seeds and use just 1 or 2 slices of jalapeño. 

How can I serve spicy cranberry mule mocktails?

Spicy cranberry mule mocktails are perfect for the holidays because they have the sweet taste of cranberry and the cozy taste of cinnamon paired with gingery bubbles. This drink pairs best with appetizers before dinner, especially sweet, rich, and cheesy snacks. Our favorite pairing is baked brie, which is a warm and gooey contrast to the spicy, effervescent drink. We also love crostinis, stuffed puff pastries, and ever-so-slightly spicy devilled eggs, which also balance out the drink.

If you're the host of your holiday gathering and are hoping to prep the drinks in advance, we recommend making a batch of spicy cranberry juice that can simply be poured into copper mugs and topped with ginger beer (so easy that guests can do it themselves). To do this, add 5–6 jalapeño slices to a jar with 1 ½ cups cranberry juice and 2 ounces honey. Let it infuse for up to 2 days, then strain the juice into a serving container. This method is better for prepping (instead of muddling) because it allows for the rest time, which will inevitably steep the spice further into the juice. As for the sugared cranberries — which guests will love — prep these up to 5 days in advance and store in airtight containers in the refrigerator.

Spicy Cranberry Mule Mocktail Recipe
5 from 21 ratings
This spicy cranberry mule mocktail ups the zing of the drink's characteristic ginger beer with hot honey and jalapeño for a flavor-packed, 0% ABV drink.
Prep Time
10
minutes
Cook Time
0
minutes
Servings
1
cocktail
mocktail on a table
Total time: 10 minutes
Ingredients
  • 6 cranberries
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 slices jalapeño, plus more for garnish
  • ½ ounce honey
  • 3 ounces cranberry juice
  • 8 ounces ginger beer, or as needed
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 sprig rosemary
Directions
  1. Toss the cranberries with the simple syrup in a small bowl.
  2. Spread on a sheet tray, shaking any excess syrup off so that the cranberries are tacky but not wet.
  3. Gently toss with the sugar and let dry.
  4. In a cocktail glass, add the jalapeño and honey.
  5. Muddle until jalapeño is broken down.
  6. Add the cranberry juice and stir.
  7. Add ice to a copper cup.
  8. Strain the jalapeño mixture into the cup.
  9. Top with ginger beer.
  10. Garnish with sugared cranberries, cinnamon stick, jalapeño slices, and rosemary to serve.
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