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Cranberry Margarita

Happy Hour With Lentine Alexis

By Lentine Alexis


This year, I’m remixing my holiday traditions and filling my table with foods for loved ones this season. I’m focused on their origin, honest history and Native wisdom that brought them to my kitchen. 

Most ingredients we elevate this time of year are Indigenous foods. Cranberries are one of few fruits native to North America, used by Native peoples for centuries. The berries are called sassamenesh (by the Algonquin) and ibimi (by the Wampanoag and Lenni-Lenape), literally translated as “bitter” or “sour berries.” The bitter berries were one of the original “superfoods,” mashed up with deer meat to make “pimîhkân” or pemmican—a survival food that was an essential as a source of calories on winter trading routes. 

Remix this holiday by expressing a new deeper gratitude; forge a deeper connection to our food, to nature, and to the true Native-American history and heritage that has created bounty on these lands for generations.  

This cranberry margarita is a proper remix. All of the standbys that make the best marg are in the house, with the special addition of a fresh cranberry jam that comes together in a few moments. Extra jam can be stirred into cocktails, spread on toast, or anywhere else you’d love a little something sweet and tart. 

Cranberry Margaritas

makes four cocktails


for the cranberry jam

  • ¾ cup fresh cranberries
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

to assemble

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 lime wedge, plus 2 oz. fresh juice
  • 4 oz. fresh orange juice
  • 6 oz. tequila


1. Make the cranberry jam

Bring cranberries, sugar, orange juice, and ¼ cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan; reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick and jammy, 30–40 minutes. Mix in orange zest; let cool.

DO AHEAD: Jam can be made 5 days ahead. Cover and chill.

2. Mix the cranberry margaritas

Mix salt, sugar, and five-spice powder on a small plate. Rub rims of Old Fashioned glasses with lime wedge; dip in salt mixture and fill glasses with ice.

For each cocktail, combine ½ oz. lime juice, 1 oz. orange juice, 1½ oz. tequila, and 2 Tbsp. cranberry jam in a cocktail shaker; fill with ice. Cover and shake until the outside is frosty, about 30 seconds. Strain into prepared glasses and serve!

Learn more about Native food systems and food sovereignty efforts here

Lentine Alexis is a former professional endurance athlete & classically trained chef. The former Culinary Director at Skratch Labs, she uses a real-food philosophy to create recipes for athletes and everyone looking to eat well and adventure better. Find more recipes and info on her upcoming cookbook for athletes at lentinealexis.com, or follow her @lentinealexis.