12 Best Thanksgiving Cocktails
These fall-friendly cocktails are perfect for pre- and post-meal Thanksgiving entertaining. Most recipes go low-ABV, starring Campari, Aperol, sparkling wines, and other low- or no-alcohol ingredients. But we've also dropped in a couple higher-octane, seasonally appropriate, spirit-based recipes, showcasing pear brandy, bourbon, and vodka. If you want more Thanksgiving drink ideas, check out our collection of Thanksgiving cocktail recipes.
Kir Royale Cocktail
Here's a two-ingredient (creme de cassis and sparkling wine), low-alcohol cocktail that will keep you steady on your feet before the big meal. As Linda explains, "Crème de cassis is a sweet, dark red syrupy liqueur made from blackcurrants. It' a delicious and wonderful way to fancy up an ordinary glass of champagne. Champagne can vary in sweetness depending on the type, and the nice thing about adding crème de cassis is you can do so to taste. Start with a little and adjust accordingly."
Champagne Punch III
Looking for Thanksgiving cocktails for a crowd? Here's a terrific low-alcohol punch that's perfect for Thanksgiving gatherings. Mix up a big batch of cranberry juice, pink lemonade, and limeade concentrates, add some white wine, club soda, and champagne, and garnish festively with lemon slices, fresh mint leaves, and for some serious Thanksgiving flair, whole cranberries. "It's fruity, but not too sweet," says DPRYOR. "I've added more club soda to make it a little lighter. All ingredients can be adjusted to your own personal taste. Keep the punch cool with ice cubes or an ice ring."
Perfect Pear Brandy Sidecar
It tastes "like biting into the ripest, most redolent pear you've ever eaten," says c-biskit. But careful, this pear brandy-based cocktail is so delicious and easy to drink, it can sneak up on you. Shake up pear brandy, lemon juice, simple syrup, and pear nectar and pour into a martini glass.
Autumn Sunshine Cocktail
This bourbon-based cocktail is the color of autumn. Doc Simonson explains the name: "I named this cocktail Autumn Sunshine because its flavor is bright, like the sun, but the maple syrup, for some reason, reminds me of burning leaves in the autumn. For a clearer, more pungent cocktail, stir instead of shaking."
This low-alcohol brunch classic is also great for Thanksgiving day-drinking. Pomegranate juice mixes it up with sparkling wine. For an extra seasonal touch, garnish with pomegranate seeds. "Beautiful color & tastes delish," says SweetBasil.
This is a full-strength vodka martini, so careful with the carving knife. Shake up vodka and cranberry juice with orange liqueur and a little vermouth and garnish with cranberries. It's a hit all throughout the holidays. "The cranberry juice mixes nicely with the liquor. It's a perfect smooth drink," Ed Grivner says.
Similar to Campari but even lower in alcohol, Aperol is an Italian aperitif that's also a smidge less bitter, making it a terrific drink for turkey day. "This is such a refreshing drink," says sonjagroset. "Aperol isn't available everywhere, but is worth seeking out. It's a little bitter, but combined with the sweetness of the Prosecco, it makes the perfect, thirst-quenching cocktail."
Tart Apple-Ginger Shrub
This old-timey, apple-ginger-infused drinking vinegar makes a great flavor base for cocktails (add a little bourbon and a splash of soda). You'll need about 4 or 5 days to marinate shredded tart apples and grated fresh ginger with apple-cider vinegar and sugar. Stick it in the fridge, and when it's ready, strain and enjoy it mixed with sodas, in cocktails -- or as a salad dressing or a glaze for roasted meats. With or without booze, shrubs and switchels are a great way to wake up the palate before a big meal. See how it's done:
Autumn Apple Pie Cocktail
"All the flavors of fall in a glass!" says voraciousgirl. "Fireball whiskey, vanilla vodka, and sparkling apple cider make this a very refreshing drink. You can add sliced apples as a garnish or pomegranate seeds for a festive look! Perfect for Thanksgiving."
Bourbon-Pumpkin Milk Punch
This creamy cocktail features half-and-half, bourbon, pumpkin pie-flavored syrup (such as Torani®), vanilla extract, and a dash of ground nutmeg. "This pumpkin twist on a New Orleans classic cocktail is perfect for Thanksgiving," says Drast.
Red Wine Hot Chocolate
"Chocolate and red wine are one of those things that go so well together," says Kim's Cooking Now. "Topping it off with a creamy froth and a sprinkle of grated chocolate will make you feel all warm and cozy inside."