Cape Cod Drink Recipe

The classic  Cape Cod drink recipe, also called the Cape Codder, is as simple as it gets. If you’re looking for a refreshing cocktail to enjoy during hot summer days or nights of dancing, this one is a great choice.

Cape Cod drink in tall glass with lime slice

The Origins of the Cape Cod Drink Recipe

The Cape Cod or Cape Codder cocktail, is an iconic cocktail that originated in the United States in the mid-20th century.

The Ocean Spray cranberry cooperative launched it as a way to sell more cranberry juice, and it presumably worked. It quickly became a classic cocktail and has remained one ever since.

The Classic Cape Cod

The beauty of the Cape Cod drink lies in its simplicity. To make this cocktail at home, you’ll only need a few basic ingredients:

  • Vodka
  • Cranberry juice
  • A squeeze of fresh lime juice
  • Ice cubes
  • Lime wedge or cranberries, for garnish (optional)

Technically, you don’t even need the squeeze of lime. Without it, it will taste like cranberry juice alone, which is delicious. The lime adds a nice contrasting tangy flavor.

How is Cape Cod different from Vodka Cranberry?

Many sources say it’s the same cocktail. But according to bartenders I’ve talked to, the Vodka Cranberry is a sort of West Coast version of the Cape Cod.

Vodka cranberry is a more popular bar order on the west coast, and it usually contains a couple of extra ingredients (orange juice and Rose’s lime). The recipes are very similar, but not quite the same.

Feel free to check out both recipes and come up with your own version.

How to Make Your Cape Cod Cocktail

Now, let’s break down the steps to make the Cape Cod drink:

Step 1: Prepare your glass

Tall glass filled with ice cubes

Start by choosing a highball or Collins glass and fill it with ice cubes. This will keep your drink cool and refreshing throughout.

Step 2: Add the vodka and Cranberry Juice

Cranberry juice being poured into glass

Measure your vodka ad cranberry juice and pour them over the ice in the glass. 

Optional Step 3: Squeeze in some lime juice

To add a tangy twist to your Cape Cod drink, squeeze a fresh lime wedge into the glass. This will enhance the overall taste and bring out the flavors of the cranberry and vodka.

Step 4: Give it a gentle stir

Using a long spoon or cocktail stirrer, gently stir the ingredients in the glass for a few seconds. This makes sure all the flavors are well combined and evenly distributed.

Step 5: Garnish and serve

For an extra touch of elegance, garnish your Cape Cod drink with a lime wedge or a few cranberries. Not only does it add visual appeal, but it also complements the flavors perfectly. 

Should I use Fresh-Squeezed Cranberry Juice?

Nope! Cranberry is one of the rare fruit juices where bottled is better. This is because the berries themselves are so tangy that they must be blended with other fruit juices to make a good-tasting drink.

And that’s what bottled cranberry juice is all about. Ocean Spray is absolutely fine – it’s their drink recipe, after all.

Related Cranberry Juice Cocktail Recipes

There are so many variations and similar drinks to the Cape Cod recipe, and you should try them all.

  • The Sea Breeze is an old classic drink with cranberry, vodka and refreshing delicious grapefruit juice.
  • The Cosmopolitan cocktail recipe starts out much like this one, but adds grapefruit juice, Cointreau and lime.
  • The Desert Shield features vodka and cranberry with cranberry liqueur.
  • The Felicia cocktail blends apple flavored vodka with cranberry juice for a terrific twist on this recipe.

Pairing Suggestions

The Cape Cod drink pairs exceptionally well with a variety of food options. Here are some delicious pairing suggestions to enhance your overall experience:

  • Grilled seafood: The light and refreshing nature of the Cape Cod drink complements grilled seafood dishes. Try shrimp skewers, grilled salmon, or fish tacos.
  • Fresh salads: Enjoy a salad alongside your Cape Cod drink for a satisfying and well-balanced meal. The tangy flavors in the cocktail will beautifully complement the freshness of the greens.
  • Cheese platter: Create a cheese platter with an assortment of mild and creamy cheeses like brie, camembert, or goat cheese. The Cape Cod drink’s acidity cuts through the richness of the cheese, creating a harmonious pairing.

Big Batch Measurements

Vodka (in ounces)
Cranberry Juice (in ounces)
Fresh Lime Juice (optional) (in ounces)
8 drinks
16 oz
32 oz
2 tablespoons
32 oz
64 oz
4 tablespoons
64 oz
128 oz
8 tablespoons

Tips for the Perfect Cape Cod Drink

To make your Cape Cod just so, try the following tips.

  • Chill your glassware: Before pouring your ingredients, chill your glassware in the refrigerator or freezer for a few minutes. This will keep your drink colder for longer and enhance the overall experience.
  • Chill your ingredients: Store the cranberry juice in the fridge and the vodka in the freezer for 20 minutes.
  • Upscale your cranberry juice: Instead of the regular bottle, you can opt for a 100% juice without added sugar variety. That will give you an even better cranberry flavor.
  • Use a good vodka: While the vodka will be mostly overwhelmed by the cranberry juice, you do want to use a vodka that tastes good.
  • Adjust the ratios: If you want it stronger, use more vodka and less cranberry. If you want it weaker, more cranberry and less vodka.
  • Use a Highball Glass: Actually, any tall glass will do. But a tall glass does enhance this drink with its beautiful color and flavors.
Cape Cod drink in tall glass with lime slice
Yield: 1 drink

The Classic Cape Cod Drink Recipe

Prep Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 3 minutes

The classic Cape Cod drink recipe is as simple as it gets. It's the perfect refreshing cocktail to enjoy on hot summer days or nights of dancing.


  • 2 ounces of vodka
  • 4 ounces of cranberry juice
  • A squeeze of fresh lime juice (optional)
  • Lime wedge or cranberries, for garnish (optional)


  1. Fill a highball glass with ice cubes.
  2. Add the vodka, cranberry juice and squeeze of fresh lime juice.
  3. Stir the ingredients thoroughly.
  4. Garnish with a lime wedge or cranberries, and serve.

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