Cocktail & Other Recipes Occasion Thanksgiving

11 Cocktails to Make for Thanksgiving

These autumnal cocktails will get your fall feast off to the right start.

Thanksgiving Margarita
Thanksgiving Margarita Image: / Tim Nusog

Food is supposed to be the star of the show on Thanksgiving, so we take that as permission to get a little creative with our drinks. After all, the standard turkey-potatoes-pie meal is fine and dandy, but there are plenty of ways to incorporate fall’s best flavors in liquid form, too. With pumpkin-twisted classics and apple-touched new favorites, these 11 drinks are just what you need to make your Thanksgiving perfect.

  • Sidra House

    Sidra House cocktail / Tim Nusog

    Hailing from New York City’s PDT, this fall-fruit-flavored drink pairs well with food and is great on its own, making it perfect for sipping any time. Shake rum, apple cider, sherry, pear brandy and allspice dram with ice, then fine-strain and serve garnished with an apple fan. Extra bonus points for serving it with a light sprinkle of cinnamon.

    Get the recipe.

  • Pumpkin Buck

    Pumpkin Buck cocktail / Tim Nusog 

    It’s pumpkin season, and we’re determined to use it in everything. Luckily, the gourd is delicious, especially when mixed with dark spirits as in this simple sipper. First, make a batch of homemade pumpkin soda that combines all the flavors of pumpkin, maple syrup and baking spices with a light effervescent twist. If you have kids joining you, serve them a glass of the soda on its own. Then when you’re ready to drink, just add your choice of applejack or whiskey to a glass with ice, then top with the soda and enjoy.

    Get the recipe.

  • Paper Plane

    Paper Plane / Tim Nusog

    Okay, perhaps it's not (yet) a traditional autumnal drink, not least because it's wonderful year-round, but the orange color and Whiskey Sour-esque drinkability of this true modern classic render it a perfect Thanksgiving crowd-pleaser. Just shake together bourbon, Aperol, Amaro Nonino, and fresh lemon juice in equal parts.

    Get the recipe.

  • Pumpkin Sazerac

    Pumpkin Sazerac / Tim Nusog

    The classic New Orleans Sazerac is given an autumnal twist with this inventive recipe. Created by star bartender Naren Young, all the Sazerac needs to be taken into the holiday is the addition of homemade pumpkin syrup. It’s made with sugar, a medley of warm spices and fresh pumpkin (of course) to bring the flavors of dessert straight into your glass. And it’s so good, you’ll want to sip it long past when any turkey leftovers are gone.

    Get the recipe.

    Continue to 5 of 11 below.
  • Apples & Pears

    Apples & Pears cocktail / Tim Nusog

    Fall fruits star in this stunning drink. Shake apple-flavored vodka, pear juice, vanilla-nutmeg syrup, lime juice and bitters with ice, then strain and top with hard apple cider for one last kick. Bring it all together with an apple slice garnish and a light sprinkle of nutmeg.

    Get the recipe.

  • Fall from the Tree

    Fall from the Tree cocktail

    The Happiest Hour

    If you’re celebrating with family, you’ll want to serve a round of these cocktails. To please everyone, make a large batch of the apple juice, lemon, cinnamon syrup and bitters base, then let each person choose whether they want to add in applejack, bourbon or scotch to complete the drink. Don’t forget to set out apple slices to use as a garnish.

    Get the recipe.

  • USS Richmond Punch

    USS Richmond Punch / Tim Nusog

    This Civil War-era cocktail hails from around the time Thanksgiving was officially declared a holiday, giving you a large-format drink with a little history to sip while you continue time-honored traditions. Strong-brewed black tea will help keep you awake through the tryptophan, while rum, cognac and ruby port add their buzz. Add a splash of Grand Marnier, some club soda or Champagne, and let the whole party enjoy.

    Get the recipe.

  • Apple-Cranberry Moscow Mule

    Apple-Cranberry Moscow Mule / Tim Nusog

    Few drinks are easier to throw together than this simple autumnal twist on the classic Moscow Mule. It takes the Mule's standard mix of vodka, lime juice, and ginger beer, and adds a splash of cran-apple juice for holiday-time cheer.

    Get the recipe.

    Continue to 9 of 11 below.
  • Spiced Apple Cider

    Spiced Apple Cider / Tim Nusog

    Fall isn't truly in full swing until the first batch of boozy apple cider has been made. This one calls for farmers-market-fresh apple cider plus an array of spices—cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and star anise—plus citrus peels and a hearty splash of bourbon or calvados. You may want to double the batch, since guests are sure to go back for seconds.

    Get the recipe.

  • Forbidden Fruit

    Forbidden Fruit cocktail / Tim Nusog

    Nothing says autumn quite like apple-brandy cocktails, and this one's light and bright enough to whet your appetite for the season's biggest meal. Combine the apple brandy, Pimm's No. 1, lemon juice, a touch of simple syrup, and aromatic bitters, then top with spicy ginger beer.

    Get the recipe.

  • Thanksgiving Margarita

    Thanksgiving Margarita / Tim Nusog

    Another drink created by Young, this Margarita riff sees allspice dram, amaretto, and pumpkin puree added to the classic cocktail's usual mix of tequila, lime juice, and agave nectar. A ground-ginger-and-salt rim and a roasted pumpkin slice finish off the drink with flair.

    Get the recipe.