Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Gin Cocktails

Under the Mistletoe

Under the Mistletoe cocktail in a collins glass, garnished with cranberries and thyme sprigs / Tim Nusog

The winter holidays are a festive time of year, known for good food, festooned trees, family gatherings and, provided you didn’t make anyone’s naughty list, even presents. Some celebrations may also include mistletoe. Today, this green herb is mostly used as a kiss-inducing seasonal decoration, but it dates back centuries and was once used as a cure-all for health ailments and a symbol of fertility. You don’t need to know any of that to drink the Under the Mistletoe cocktail, but your house guests may appreciate the anecdotes while you make them this tart refreshment.

The drink, which was created at Big Bar in Chicago, starts off Christmas-y with muddled cranberries and oranges in simple syrup. It then adds gin, cranberry juice and club soda, before a final garnish of a thyme sprig and fresh cranberries. Muddling the fruit with the simple syrup releases the cranberries’ tart juices and the oranges’ sweet, citrusy juices, providing a fresh base for the cocktail.

The recipe specifically calls for London dry gin, which prominently features juniper and tends to have a dry, bracing flavor. London dry gins are workhorses in cocktails, used in classics like the Martini and Tom Collins. You can experiment with a more modern, western-style gin that focuses on citrus and florals, just know that the resulting character will vary from a cocktail made with a drier gin.

When selecting your cranberry juice, aim for real juice, not cranberry juice cocktail. The former features 100-percent juice, while the latter adds sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Since the recipe already calls for simple syrup, you don’t need that extra sweetness.

The dry gin and tart cranberry juice are tempered by the simple syrup and club soda, yielding a crisp cocktail that tastes great and goes down easy. The one-two punch of muddled cranberries and cranberry juice ensures the drink looks the part, too, with a red color indicative of the season. Make a few Under the Mistletoes the next time Christmas (or cranberry season) rolls around, and you’ll ensure that at least one facet of your holiday gathering goes off without a hitch.


  • 4 cranberries

  • 2 orange half-wheels

  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup

  • 2 ounces London dry gin

  • Cranberry juice, to top

  • Club soda, chilled, to top

  • Garnish: thyme sprig

  • Garnish: 3 cranberries


  1. In a Collins glass, muddle the cranberries and orange half-wheels with the simple syrup.

  2. Fill the glass with ice and add the gin.

  3. Top with a mixture of two parts cranberry juice to one part club soda.

  4. Stir with a thyme sprig, leaving it in the glass, and garnish with three additional cranberries.