Cranberry juice is juice pressed from the fruit of the cranberry, an evergreen mat-like shrub native to Eastern North America. There are a number of uses for this juice, ranging from a daily glass to support a healthy body and heart to a mixer in cocktails and juice beverages. Straight juice is available from many supermarkets, although it may be difficult to find it without high fructose corn syrup, and mixed juice beverages that include it are also readily available. As is the case with other fruit juices, the health benefits of cranberries are best found in juice without artificial sweeteners.
As a health food, cranberries have several benefits. Drinking cranberry juice makes urine more acidic, which can be highly beneficial for urinary tract infections. While drinking water and juice will also help to flush the kidneys and urinary tract if they are infected, the juice will actually help the body actively fight bacteria. Cranberries also appear to lower bad cholesterol in the body, making them a heart healthy food, and they are loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants. A glass now and then can, as a result, be highly beneficial.
Many fruit juices use cranberry juice as a mixer, since it has a unique tart flavor that can make other juices taste more flavorful and complex. A blend may have a high percentage of cranberry, using another fruit such as raspberries as a sweetener, or it may have a splash of cranberry that is intended to enhance the flavor of the juice, or to temper the sweetness of naturally sweet fruits. White cranberry juice, by the way, is made from cranberries that are picked before they reach full ripeness, and it tends to be a bit sweeter. Look for juices with natural fruit sweetening, honey, or cane sugar if possible.
Many alcoholic beverages also call for cranberry juice, as is the case with cosmopolitans, crantinis, or the simple vodka and cranberry. The tart flavor complements a wide range of alcohols, and can help to cut their bitterness and intensity. Since the juice also has a distinctive rich ruby red color, it is also used to add a splash of color to otherwise dull drinks. In some cases, a drink may be garnished with candied or fresh cranberries. Virgin drinks can also be made with cranberry juice, for those who prefer to abstain.