15 Thanksgiving Cocktails

by: Esteban On  Wednesday, November 21, 2012

thanksgiving cocktails

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of year filled with great food, friends, football, and family. However, everyone knows that family, while totally wonderful and awesome and, like, the bestest thing ever, can also make you sorta want to pull your hair out. Parents nag, uncles tell the same old stories, aunts ask you why you’re not married, siblings bring home weird boyfriends and/or girlfriends, and grandparents complain about how you don’t come visit enough.

In other words, Thanksgiving can be pretty stressful. This is precisely why, in addition to turkey and candied yams and cranberry sauce, every Thanksgiving feast needs an excellent array of cocktails. And that’s what we have for you today: 15 great cocktails tailor-made for Thanksgiving. So grab a pen and paper, take a look, and plan on stopping by the liquor store on the way home from work tonight. You’ll thank me come Monday.


15. Hard Cider Sangria


We start off with a refreshing fall drink that will might actually quench your thirst. That being said, I wouldn’t recommend pounding too many of these. The ingredients listed here yield 4 servings.


1 cup quartered and thinly sliced, unpeeled green, yellow, and red apples

1 navel orange, quartered and thinly sliced

1 cup apple juice

2 tbsp (fresh) lemon juice

1/4 cup apple brandy

22 oz hard apple cider, chilled



Combine ingredients in a pitcher and serve over ice.


14. The Jack-O-Lantern

14 jack-o-lantern cocktail - thanksgiving cocktails

Technically you could use any kind of bourbon for this cocktail; however, it’s cuter when you actually use Jack Daniels. (Get it? Jack…O-Lantern?) In any case, it sounds like it might be fairly tasty.


1.5 oz Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey

1.5 oz spiced apple cider

2 tbsp pumpkin puree

1 tbsp maple syrup

1 dash cinnamon

nutmeg (for garnish)

cinnamon stick (for garnish)


Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously for 15 seconds. Then pour into a chilled cocktail glass (a.k.a. martini glass) and garnish with the cinnamon stick and a sprinkle of nutmeg.



13. Ginger Spice

13 ginger spice cocktail - thanksgiving cocktails

Sorry about the name. I really didn’t want to have a cocktail associated with the Spice Girls, but since I didn’t invent the drink I can’t very well change what it’s called.


1 oz spiced rum (such as Captain Morgan)

1/2 oz ginger liqueur

1 oz apple juice

cinnamon stick (for garnish)

nutmeg (for garnish)

whipped cream


Combine ingredients in a cocktail shakers and shake vigorously. Then strain into a chilled cocktail glass or rocks glass and garnish with whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg.



12. Cognac Sparklers

12 cognac sparklers - thanksgiving cocktails

Don’t cut corners here. Spend a few bucks on a nice basic bottle of bitters (such as Angostura), because that’s what transformed this from a mixer into a cocktail.


1 oz cognac

1 cup chilled sparkling apple cider (soft or hard)



Pour the cognac into a champagne flute, then top up with the cider and add a few dashes of bitters.


11. Apple-Brandy Hot Toddy

11 apple brandy hot toddy - thanksgiving cocktails

You’ve heard of “hot toddies,” right? Well basically, a hot toddy is just a couple ounces of a strong spirit added to hot water. This particular one is a slight twist on a classic toddies created by a bartender named Suzanne Bozarth in Portland, Oregon. The ingredients list yield 8 drinks, so make a batch for your family ths Thanksgiving.


1.5 cups water

1.5 oz honey

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

2 cups apple brandy (such as Calvados)

8 cinnamon sticks (for garnish)


Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan, then remove from heat and stir in honey until it’s dissolved. After that stir in the lemon juice, followed by the apple brandy. Then place a cinnamon stick in each mug, pour, and serve.


10. Apricot-Cayenne Fizz

10 apricot-cayenne fizz - thanksgiving cocktails

The name sounds silly, but in my opinion any cocktail that contains a pinch of cayenne pepper is suitable for grown men to consume. This one will definitely refresh and take the edge off.


3 oz apricot nectar (or juice)

1 oz brandy

1 oz apricot brandy

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 generous pinch cayenne pepper



Combine the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Then strain into a tall ice-filled glass (though obviously the one pictured here is in a cocktail glass), top with a splash of seltzer, and gently stir.


9. B-52

9 b-52 coridal shot - thanksgiving cocktails

If this one sounds familiar to regular readers, it’s probably because we features a combustible B-52 on our list of flaming cocktails a few weeks back. But since pyrotechnic mixology and family gatherings aren’t generally a good combination, we’ve decided to feature the non-flaming version of this tasty holiday treat on this list. Enjoy!


1/2 oz coffe liqueur (e.g. Kahlua)

1/2 oz Irish cream (e.g. Bailey’s)

1/2 ounce orange liqueur (Grand Marnier being ideal)


Pour the Kahlua into a shot glass, then very gently pour the Bailey’s over that, followed by the Grand Marnier. It’s essential to pour the liquids in this order because the lightest needs to be on top and the heaviest on bottom to create a the layers effect.


8. Pumpkin Pie Shot

8 pumpkin pie shot - thanksgiving cocktails

I’m not sure if this would really taste like pumpkin pie, but I am sure it would taste pretty fantastic. If you’re family has a Thanksgiving after party, bust this baby out.


1/2 oz Irish cream

1/2 oz amaretto

1/4 oz cinnamon schnapps


Pour the Irish cream (e.g. Bailey’s) into a shot glass, then very gently pour the amaretto over it, folllwed by the schnapps (e.g. Goldschlager). Then down it.


7. Caramel Apple Martini

7 caramel apple martini - thanksgiving cocktails

This one is definitely for people with a sweet tooth. You might want to save it for dessert—it would probably go great with a slice of whatever pie your aunt made.


1.5 oz sour apple schnapps

1/2 oz butterscotch schnapps

1/2 oz cinnamon schnapps

1.5 ounces half-n-half


Combine ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Then strain into a cocktail glass lined with cinnamon sugar.


6. Cranberry Old-Fashioned

6 cranberry old-fashioned - thanksgiving cocktails

This one basically just takes the standard old-fashioned and adds Thanksgiving’s signature better. Sounds like the perfect pre-dinner adult beverage to me.


8 fresh or frozen cranberries

2 tsp sugar (or simple syrup)

2 dashes of bitters (e.g. Angostura)

1 strip orange zest

2 oz bourbon


Muddle (i.e., squash with a spoon and swirl around) the cranberries, sugar, bitters, and orange zest with water in a glass until the sugar has dissolved. Then add the bourbon and ice.


5. Caramel Candy

5 caramel candy cocktail - thanksgiving cocktails

This one calls for caramel vodka and vanilla liqueur. However, you could also swap them—caramel liqueur and vanilla vodka—is those are easier to come by in your neck of the woods. Either way this one will be a tasty treat.


1/2 oz cognac

3/4 oz vanilla liqueur

3/4 oz caramel vodka

1/2 oz half-n-half


Combine the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Then pour into a chilled cocktail glass rimmed with sugar.


4. English Harvest

4 english harvet cocktail - thanksgiving cocktails

This one makes my mouth water. It was created by a guy named Ryan Fitzgerald, who was trying to create something fruity, spicy, and nutty for fall. I can’t wait to try it out. FYI, if you have trouble finding the almond syrup, you could experiment with a cheap sweet amaretto like Lazzaroni.


1 oz dry gin

3/4 oz apple brandy

3/4 oz dry vermouth

3/4 oz cider or unfiltered apple juice

1/4 oz almond flavored syrup (available at most coffee shops)

1 orange twist (for garnish)


Combine ingredients in cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a brandy snifter and garnish with the orange twist


3. Apple-Pie Spiced Cider

3 apple pie spiced cider - thanksgiving cocktails

You could make a non-alcoholic version of this. But don’t. Just give the kids apple juice and make this for the grownups. It’ll help you make conversation with your awkward cousin. (The ingredients listed hear yield 6 servings.)


1.25 quarts apple cider

3 tbsp brown sugar

1 cinnamon stick

1 tsp ground allspice

1/2 tsp ground ginger

ground gloves (a few sprinkles)

nutmeg (a few sprinkles)


1/2 cup apple brandy (e.g. Calvados)


In a saucepan, whisk together the cider, sugar, spices, and salt. Bring so a simmer over medium-low heat. Then removed it from the heat and add brandy. Strain into a pitcher, discard the solids left over, and serve in mugs.


2. Black Bart

2 black bart cocktail - thanksgiving cocktails

“Root” is a new attempt at an old American liqueur made from birch root and sugar cane and spiced with smoked black tea, citrus peels, cloves, and other spices. Initially it was marketed as a kind of root beer liqueur, but it’s actually much most potent that such a description would suggest. In any case, this cocktail, invented by Francis Schott, is based on Root, and more or less attempts to replace the coffee liqueur in the classic white Russian.

Intrigued? Yeah, me too.


2 oz Root liqueur

3/4 oz white rum

1 oz heavy cream

1/2 oz cinnamon syrup

1 cinnamon stick (for garnish)

pinch of ground cinnamon (for garnish)


Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a rocks glass or a cocktail glass and garnish with a stick of cinnamon.


1. Pumpkin Pie Martini

1 pumpkin pie martini - thanksgiving cocktails

This one is dessert in a glass. If you forget to make the pumpkin pie, just make yourself one of these after dinner and you won’t even miss it. The calorie count on this one must be astronomical. So, too, the alcohol content.


1 oz vanilla vodka

1 oz white creme de cacao (i.e., chocolate schnapps)

1 oz heavy cream

1.5 tbsp pumkin puree (i.e., canned pumpkin pie mix)

1 dash nutmeg (for garnish)

ground graham cracker (for the rim)


Combine vodka, creme de cacao, cream, and pumpikin in cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Then strain into a chilled martini glass rimmed with the ground graham cracker and sprinkle with nutmeg.