Unless you’re hosting a house full of guests (and if you are, we don’t envy you), Thanksgiving dinner is a once-and-done event. If you’re hankering for a plate of leftovers or just want to let the day linger on a little longer, mix up these libations inspired by starters, sides and even the bird itself.
Put away the can opener and forget about that whole “jelly or whole berry” debate. Unlike the plate-staining side dish, this Cosmo variant at Bridges at New York Hilton Midtown has a boozy kick. Grapefruit vodka mimics the citrus peel that gives popping, simmering berries bright citrus, and a rosemary sprig adds a whiff of herbaceousness.
In New York City, Miss Ada head bartender Ruben Hernandez was inspired to create a salad stand-in that stems from the Mediterranean tradition of mixing arak with water, mint and citrus over ice. Beets provided the perfect base—not to mention a gorgeous, intense color—and purple, pink and even rainbow ones work equally well. “This root vegetable, which is harvested all summer through late fall, stores well and keeps for months,” says Hernandez. “Both golden and red beets have an earthy, bitter raw flavor.” To add savory tanginess, feel free to garnish with a sprinkle of goat cheese.
Mushy green beans from a can topped with canned onion straws? No, thanks. In Washington, D.C., Firefly lead bartender Brendan Ambrose’s vegetal elixir (a new version of one he does with sugar snap peas,) is smoky, herbal and bitter, thanks to smoked beans and mezcal, and a splash of Chartreuse and Cynar liqueurs.
This play on the classic Gin Martini by Chicago’s Dos Urban Cantina bar manager Larry Rice evokes thoughts of carving up that stuffing-filled bird (or enjoying an open-faced sandwich or mushy piece of gravy bread for days afterward). Gin infused with thyme and saffron, as well as a salty syrup made with turkey broth, lend the drink a super savory component.
Michelle Poteaux’s aunt brought bundevara, a Croatian pie usually made with pumpkin, to Thanksgiving dinner every year, and she especially loved the slightly crispy, blackened top crust made by mixing bourbon with brown sugar and broiling the top. “With a cocktail tailored after a dessert, you get the flavors without the guilt,” says the owner and executive pastry chef of Bastille in Alexandria, Va. “You generally only need a little to satisfy your craving.”