Thanksgiving: 15 Thanksgiving Cocktails to Serve Your Family & Friends

This holiday needs very little introduction! Thanksgiving is a time-honored tradition in America, a day of giving thanks and gathering with loved ones. It’s a celebration filled with history, delicious food, and delightful cocktails. Today, in honor of Thanksgiving, we’re going to chat about the history of Thanksgiving and some ways you can make your gathering special with 15 Thanksgiving cocktails. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get started!

When Is Thanksgiving?

Let’s start out by listing when Thanksgiving is for the next few years. Many of you coming to this post will be wondering just that! Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November each year, which makes it pretty easy to peek at the calendar and figure out. Here are the dates for Thanksgiving 2023 to Thanksgiving 2027:

Thanksgiving 2023: Thursday, November 23

Thanksgiving 2024: Thursday, November 28

Thanksgiving 2025: Thursday, November 27

Thanksgiving 2026: Thursday, November 26

Thanksgiving 2027: Thursday, November 25

The History of Thanksgiving

The roots of Thanksgiving are deeply embedded in early American history, tracing back to the early 17th century. The holiday’s origins are commonly linked to the harvest celebration held by the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony in 1621. These English settlers, seeking religious freedom, had endured a harsh first winter in the New World, with only half of their group surviving until spring. 

Native Influence

With the help of Native Americans, who taught them vital survival skills like growing corn, hunting, and fishing, the Pilgrims managed to harvest enough food to sustain themselves. To celebrate this success, they organized a three-day feast, which was attended by both the Pilgrims and members of the local Wampanoag tribe, including their chief, Massasoit. This gathering is traditionally considered the first Thanksgiving, a time of shared gratitude and fellowship.

Becoming a National Holiday

The evolution of Thanksgiving into a national holiday, however, was a gradual process. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated sporadically and in various forms, reflecting local customs and traditions. 

It wasn’t until the midst of the Civil War that President Abraham Lincoln, in a proclamation dated October 3, 1863, designated the last Thursday of November as a national day of Thanksgiving. This decision was largely influenced by the persistent campaigning of Sarah Josepha Hale, a notable magazine editor who wrote letters to politicians for 17 years advocating for a national Thanksgiving holiday. Lincoln’s proclamation sought to unite a nation torn by war, emphasizing unity, thankfulness, and the American values of community and perseverance.

20th Century

In the years following Lincoln’s proclamation, Thanksgiving continued to evolve. In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, seeking to lengthen the Christmas shopping season to boost the economy during the Great Depression, moved Thanksgiving up a week. However, this change met with significant public opposition and confusion, leading to Roosevelt signing a bill in 1941 officially setting Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday in November, where it remains today.

Thanksgiving Today

Thanksgiving today has become more than just a celebration of harvest; it’s a day that symbolizes gratitude, family, and tradition. It brings together people from all walks of life to reflect on the blessings and challenges of the past year. The holiday has also become a time for volunteering and giving back to the community, embodying the spirit of generosity and compassion.

Learn More: Thanksgiving – Wikipedia

15 Thanksgiving Cocktails to Try This Year

As you plan your Thanksgiving menu, don’t forget to add a twist of festivity with these delightful cocktail recipes. Each one is designed to complement the flavors of the season and add an extra sparkle to your celebration.

#1: Pumpkin Spice Martini

Embrace the essence of fall with this Pumpkin Spice Martini. It combines vodka, pumpkin puree, and a blend of autumn spices, creating a creamy and indulgent treat.

  1. Mix 2 oz vanilla vodka, ½ oz cream liqueur, ½ oz pumpkin puree, 1 tsp whipped cream, and a pinch of pumpkin pie spice in a shaker with ice. 
  2. Shake well and strain into a martini glass.

#2: Apple Cider Mimosa

This Apple Cider Mimosa is a perfect fusion of apple cider and sparkling wine, offering a bubbly, refreshing twist to your Thanksgiving toast.

  1. Pour 2 oz apple cider into a champagne flute.
  2. Top with 2 oz of your favorite sparkling wine. 
  3. Garnish with an apple slice.

#3: Cranberry Margarita

Add a zesty kick with this Cranberry Margarita. It’s a delightful blend of tequila, cranberry juice, and lime, offering a tangy and vibrant sip.

  1. Blend 1½ oz tequila, ½ oz triple sec, 1 oz lime juice, and 2 oz cranberry juice in a shaker with ice. 
  2. Shake and strain into a salt-rimmed glass.

#4: Maple Bourbon Old Fashioned

Savor the richness of bourbon infused with the sweetness of maple syrup in this Maple Bourbon Old Fashioned. It’s a classic with a seasonal twist.

  1. In a glass, muddle 1 sugar cube with 2 dashes of bitters and a splash of water.
  2. Add ice, 2 oz bourbon, and ½ oz maple syrup. 
  3. Stir and garnish with an orange peel.

#5: Harvest Punch

Perfect for a crowd, this Harvest Punch combines apple cider, rum, and a variety of fruits, creating a refreshing and fruity beverage.

  1. Mix 4 cups apple cider, 1 bottle of rum, 2 cups orange juice, and sliced oranges, lemons, and apples in a large punch bowl. 
  2. Add ice and stir.

#6: Spiced Pear Bellini

Elevate your cocktail game with this elegant Spiced Pear Bellini. Pear puree and sparkling wine, spiced with a touch of cinnamon, make for a sophisticated drink.

  1. Puree 1 ripe pear with a pinch of ground cinnamon. 
  2. Pour 2 tablespoons of pear puree into a champagne flute and top with 4 oz sparkling wine.

#7: Ginger Snap Cocktail

Experience the warmth of ginger and spices in this Ginger Snap Cocktail. It’s a delightful blend of ginger liqueur, cinnamon, and a dash of lemon.

  1. Shake 2 oz ginger liqueur, 1 oz vodka, ½ oz lemon juice, and a dash of ground cinnamon with ice. 
  2. Strain into a chilled glass.

#8: Hot Toddy

For a cozy and comforting choice, try this classic Hot Toddy. It combines whiskey, honey, lemon, and hot water or tea, perfect for chilly evenings.

  1. Combine 2 oz whiskey, 1 tbsp honey, ½ oz lemon juice, and 1 cup hot water or tea in a mug. 
  2. Stir well and garnish with a lemon slice and cinnamon stick.

#9: Spiced Rum Cider

This Spiced Rum Cider is a heartwarming mix of apple cider, spiced rum, and cinnamon sticks, embodying the spirit of the season.

  1. In a saucepan, heat 4 cups of apple cider with 2 cinnamon sticks. 
  2. Remove from heat and add 2 oz spiced rum. 
  3. Serve in mugs with a cinnamon stick for garnish.

#10: Pomegranate Rosemary Spritzer

This refreshing Pomegranate Rosemary Spritzer offers a blend of pomegranate juice, sparkling water, and a hint of rosemary, creating a unique and festive flavor profile.

  1. Mix 2 oz pomegranate juice, 4 oz sparkling water, and a sprig of rosemary in a glass filled with ice. 
  2. Stir gently and garnish with pomegranate seeds.

#11: Apple Cider Margarita

This Apple Cider Margarita is tangy and balanced, combining zingy tequila and lime with sweet cider. A cinnamon sugar rim adds a delightful touch.

  1. Mix 2 oz apple cider, 1½ oz tequila, ¾ oz Triple Sec, and ¾ oz lime juice in a shaker with ice.
  2. Shake and strain into a glass with a cinnamon sugar rim​​.

#12: Thanksgiving Pomegranate Punch

A ruby red punch that’s light, fruity, bubbly, and sweet tart, featuring pomegranate juice, citrus, and a hint of maple syrup.

  1. Combine 2 cups pomegranate juice, juice of 2 lemons, juice of 2 oranges, 4 cups soda water, ½ cup maple syrup, and 1 cup bourbon or brandy in a punch bowl. 
  2. Stir and serve over ice​​.

#13: Cranberry Bourbon Cocktail

A perfect fall cocktail with a balance of sweet tart cranberry and orange, complemented by the richness of bourbon and sweet vermouth.

  1. Mix 2 oz cranberry juice, 1½ oz bourbon, 1 oz orange juice, and ½ oz sweet vermouth in a shaker with ice.
  2. Shake well and strain into a glass filled with ice​​.

#14: Pomegranate Prosecco Sparkler

A festive cocktail combining sweet tart pomegranate, the aroma of orange, and the bubbly delight of Prosecco.

  1. Pour 2 oz pomegranate juice and 1 oz Aperol into a champagne flute. 
  2. Top with Prosecco and gently stir​​.

#15: Cranberry Orange Whiskey Sour

A twist on the classic whiskey sour, featuring a fruity blend of cranberry and orange, enhanced with bourbon and maple syrup.

  1. Shake 2 oz bourbon, 1 oz cranberry juice, 1 oz orange juice, ½ oz lemon juice, and ½ oz maple syrup in a shaker with ice.
  2. Strain into a glass over ice​​.

How to Make the Best Thanksgiving Cocktails

Making the perfect Thanksgiving cocktails is an art that can elevate your holiday celebration. Here are five essential tips to help you craft delightful and memorable drinks:

#1: Fresh Ingredients

The key to a great cocktail is using fresh, high-quality ingredients. Freshly squeezed juices, homemade syrups, and ripe fruits can significantly enhance the flavor of your cocktails. For instance, using freshly pressed apple cider in your apple cider mimosa or freshly squeezed lime juice in your cranberry margarita will make a noticeable difference.

#2: Local Spirits

Incorporating locally crafted spirits in your Thanksgiving cocktails not only supports local businesses but often provides a unique and superior taste. These spirits are usually crafted with a high level of care and attention to detail. Explore your local distilleries to find unique flavors that can add a special touch to your cocktails, like a small-batch bourbon for your old fashioned or a handcrafted rum for your spiced rum cider.

#3: Presentation

The visual appeal of your cocktail is almost as important as the taste. Use appropriate glassware for each drink, and don’t skimp on garnishes. A well-placed cinnamon stick, a sprig of rosemary, or a beautifully cut fruit garnish can enhance the drinking experience and make your cocktails look as good as they taste.

#4: Balance

A great cocktail is all about balance. Pay attention to the harmony between sweetness, sourness, bitterness, and alcohol content. Tasting as you mix is crucial. Adjusting the ingredients to find the right balance for your palate can turn a good cocktail into a great one.

#5: Pair Well

Cocktails are only a small part of the fun and appeal of Thanksgiving. You’ll probably be mixing drinks surrounded by tons of good food! Pay attention to the flavors and qualities of the food that is available at your gathering. Make sure to offer drinks that pair well with these foods or offer a great palette cleanse before guests dive in for round two!

These are just a few tips. Remember to keep in mind that every drink is unique and there are certain things that you can do to elevate each individual cocktail. Brainstorm and see how you can make your drinks extra-special!

Distillery Nearby: Find Local, Craft Spirits for Your Thanksgiving Cocktails

As we prepare for Thanksgiving, let’s not forget the importance of selecting the right spirits for our cocktails. That’s where we come in! Our by-state directory is the perfect tool to help you discover local, craft distilleries right in your neighborhood. Whether you’re in search of a robust, artisanal bourbon or an exquisitely distilled rum, our platform offers an easy and efficient way to find these unique spirits.

Supporting local distilleries not only enriches our cocktails but also bolsters the local artisanal spirit community. Each distillery you explore will have its own flair and innovation, too.

Elevate your Thanksgiving cocktail lineup this year! Visit us at Distillery Nearby and find a vast array of local spirits. 

From all of us at Distillery Nearby,

Happy Thanksgiving!

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