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50 Drinks in 50 States: The Massachusetts Cape Codder

Welcome back to our booze-filled weekly lesson on America’s cocktail history. We know you loved last week’s Blue Hawaii (who wouldn’t!), but this classic and super-simple cocktail is bound to please.

The Cape Codder is a classy and delicious cocktail … and one you may even know by a different name: vodka cranberry. Yup, this bev only requires three ingredients and you probably already have them in your fridge. Let’s find out how one of our quintessential late-night bar orders came to be, and why we’ve named it the cocktail of Massachusetts.

Did you know that as early as 1816, the first commercial cranberry crop was grown in Cape Cod, Massachusetts? Cranberries were in existence, of course, but it wasn’t until the early 1800s that they began to transform into the versatile, sweet yet tart treat that we know and love today — all thanks to Mass! By the 1930s, the world began to catch on to the cranberry’s success, creating faves such as the canned and juiced version. (Side note: Is cranberry sauce anyone else’s favorite Thanksgiving side dish?)

It was only a matter of time before someone thought to mix a little (or a lotta) liquor to the sweet and smooth juice. Promoted far and wide by Ocean Spray — another New England claim to fame — the Cape Codder quickly became a mainstay on our (and everyone else’s) cocktail menu.

Here’s how to make it:

2 oz vodka
4 oz cranberry juice
1 lime

Fill glass with ice. Pour the vodka and cranberry juice over the ice. Squeeze the juice from the lime half into the drink. Stir. Garnish the edge of the glass with a lime wheel. Enjoy!