The Cape Codder might sound misleading or not immediately obvious, but this vodka-cranberry long drink is actually straightforward and refers to the extensive cranberry farms in Cape Cod, Massachusets. Hence the name Cape Codder.
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What is Cape Codder ?
The Cape Codder is a vodka and cranberry juice highball, with no carbonation in it at all. It’s quite old, dating back to Ocean Spray’s campaign to push their cranberry products. They originally named it Red Devil but it quickly came to be named Cape Codder after the typical place to grow cranberries in America. The name stuck, and goes as far back as the ’60s, so it’s not likely to change anytime soon.
There are variations on this drink since it’s such a classic, but it’s still one of the most popular ways to drink vodka in a highball.
Cape Codder Cocktail Recipe
- 1.5 oz vodka
- 4.5 oz cranberry juice or to top
- lime to garnish
- Build in Collin's or highball glass, filled with ice.
- Pour vodka then top with cranberry juice.
- Stir lightly, add lime garnish.
- This is one of the simplest cocktails and it can easily be turned into a lowball - just add 3 oz cranberry to the 1.5 of vodka.
- You can scale the vodka to cranberry juice ratio up or down, depending on your preferences.
When is this drink best ?
I think the Cape Codder can work great in any setting, but perhaps best in the cold season, mostly due to the cranberries. It’s hard not to associate cranberries with crunchy leaves and pumpkin pies, but I don’t think anyone will shy away from it in, say, July. And, since this is a highball I think it’s going to go well with most people. You can easily tone it down or make it much stronger, depending on your preferences.
My thoughts on Cape Codder
I found the Cape Codder pleasant, and I have to disclose here I’m not a big fan of cranberry juice. I don’t dislike it, I just don’t find it as great as some would. Where I’m from (Romania), cranberries are very rare so not only am I not used to the flavor, I find it too sour sometimes. Our main vodka mixer go-to is actually green apple juice, since apples are plentiful here. The drink comes out tart and goes with vodka about as well as cranberry juice does, expect I’m more used to it.
Back to the classic Cape Codder, if you like cranberry juice this is a perfect way to get a bit of a buzz while sipping on your favorite drink. The vodka is difficult to detect in most drinks, and here it blends in with the cranberry. You do get a nice burn, but it’s quite easy to forget there’s alcohol in this going by flavor alone.
If you like Cape Codder, you might also like…
Sea Breeze – adds grapefruit juice to the mix
Bay Breeze – adds pineapple, may swap vodka for rum
Cosmopolitan – vodka sour with lime and cranberry
Madras – a Cape Codder with added orange juice
Notes, substitutes, and tips
Homemade cranberry juice can easily be adjusted for sweetness and flavor, and if you want that go ahead and make your own. I used a store-bought one and the classic Cape Codder recipe asks for Ocean Spray’s own cranberry juice.
This is a very basic drink, and you can tweak it however you like it. Something like a flavored vodka would work great here, especially a lemon vodka since lemon goes very well with cranberries.
Or, you could express some lemon peel into the drink before mixing to get a nice hint of lemon as well.