The Perfect Thanksgiving Cocktail Menu
Between navigating relatives and election fallout, we could all probably use a stiff drink this year. These are some that are truly worth giving thanks for.
What drinks are you going to make for Thanksgiving?
It’s a question that I dread every year. To be honest, I’ve never known what to serve with turkey and the traditional fixings. While wine is certainly a safe bet (and bubbly works surprisingly well with the meal and gives the holiday a festive air), it can be hard to come up with other beverage options that satisfy my friends and family. And, between navigating relatives and election fallout, we could all probably use a stiff drink this year.
No need to despair. I’ve asked our Daily Beast contributors—truly some of the brightest cocktail and spirits minds around today—for their T-Day drinks suggestions. Here are their recipes. Cheers!
“Concerned that families reuniting for the holiday this week will have nothing to talk about, I recommend the American President cocktail. This recipe, which I’ve tweaked, dates to 1932, when it appeared in the bar guide for Sloppy Joe’s, the legendary prohibition-era Havana bar. It’s essentially a classic El Presidente, with the addition of lime juice. It takes a solid cocktail and renders it a little sour and somewhat controversial.”
Ingredients:1 oz Light rum1 oz Dry vermouth.5 oz Lime juice.5 oz Curaçao1 teaspoon Grenadine
Garnish: Orange peel
Directions: Add all the ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange peel.
“I always get a kick out of this seasonal recipe facetiously offered by F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1936:
‘Turkey Cocktail: To one large turkey add one gallon of vermouth and a demijohn of Angostura bitters. Shake.’ Drawing inspiration from this gem, I recommend my Thanksgiving Sangria (ThanksGria? Thangria?)”
Ingredients: 2 oz Beaujolais Nouveau (I always associate it with Thanksgiving)1 oz Sweet vermouth1 oz Peychaud’s Aperitivo (If you can’t find it, use Aperol)1 Orange slice2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Glass: Large wine goblet
Directions: Add all the ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake and pour unstrained into a large wine goblet. This recipe can also work nicely if you make a big batch in a pitcher.
“It’s a long day. You’ve got to crack the ice without sending people face first into the pumpkin pie. I’m going to cheer people up with the Vermouth Cocktail made with Cocchi Vermouth di Torino. It’s complicated enough to be interesting and very autumnal. While it’s strong enough to get people talking, it won’t put anyone under the table before the turkey is on it.”
Ingredients:2 oz Cocchi Vermouth di Torino (Other sweet vermouths are great for this, too, but I’d steer clear of that 2-year-old bottle of Stock in the back of your great-aunt’s liquor cabinet)2 dashes Maraschino liqueur2 dashes Angostura Bitters (Some folks like a dash or two of simple syrup, but I don’t think it needs it)
Garnish: Orange or lemon twist
Directions: Add all the ingredients to a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange or a lemon twist.
“As far back as the 1890s, Americans were drinking Champagne Cocktails with their Thanksgiving feasts. Champagne drinks are a fine Thanksgiving pre-prandial, as the magnitude of the meal makes getting started with anything too boozy a bad idea. Also, it’s best to avoid drinks that require a lot of individual preparation given all the kitchen chores already on tap—in other words, no Old Fashioneds, please. And so, may I recommend to you a tasty, vintage Champagne Cup that one prepares by the bottle rather than by the glass.”
Ingredients:1.5 oz Cognac1 oz Grand Marnier.5 oz Maraschino liqueur (Not, it should be noted, the syrup from a cherry jar)1 oz Simple syrup, or a bit less, to tasteChampagne, well chilled
Garnish: Pineapple or orange slices or cherries
Glass: Champagne flute or coupe
Directions: Add all the ingredients, except the Champagne, to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake and strain into a clear glass pitcher. Add the Champagne and give a minimal, gentle stir to combine without dissipating the fizz. Decorate, if you like, with fruit (e.g., slices of pineapple and orange, cherries). Serve in Champagne glasses (coupe or flute).
“I like the Royal Hibernian Punch because it’s smooth and pleasant and rich—but not too rich—and just a little bit surprising. This should be enough for about 30 3-ounce servings, or just enough to get you through the politics part of the evening.”
Royal Hibernian Punch
Ingredients:Peel of 4 lemons, in long spirals.75 cup Sugar.75 cup Strained lemon juice1 750-ml bottle John Power’s Irish Whiskey1.5 cups Rainwater Madeira2 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Orange Curaçao3 cups Cold water
Garnish: 1 nutmeg
Directions: Put the lemon peels and sugar in a quart Mason jar. Seal, shake, and let sit overnight. This will extract the lemon oil from the peels. The next day, add the lemon juice to the jar. Seal, shake well to dissolve and refrigerate. This is your shrub. To serve, pour the shrub into a gallon punch bowl half filled with ice. Add the whiskey, Madeira, curaçao, and water. Stir. Grate about a third of the nutmeg over the top. Ladle forth in 3-oz portions.