17 Fall Cocktails for Thanksgiving Imbibing

From cranberries to apples, fall ingredients can take on new life at your Thanksgiving table with the addition of a little gin, vodka, or brandy.

Hot Buttered Spiced Spiked Cider
Photo: Photo by Jen Causey / Food Styling by Melissa Gray / Prop Styling by Christina Daley

Predictably so, the turkey, potatoes, and pies get the lion's share of attention on Thanksgiving day. But we'd like to make a case for the unsung hero of the season: Thanksgiving cocktails. Making use of soul-soothing, seasonal ingredients like apples, cranberries, pomegranates, and pears, these are the boozy beverages that power us through challenging conversations and unexpected kitchen hiccups alike. We've asked our editors to weigh in on some of their favorite autumnal cocktails — think punches with layers of apple flavor, a smoky mezcal-fig sour, and a hard cider sangria. Need something warming to combat the chilly weather? We've got coffee drinks and hot mulled cider for that, too. Here are even more Thanksgiving cocktails and drinks to enjoy this holiday season.

01 of 17

Hard Cider Sangria

Fresh Fall Cocktails
Christina Holmes

Instead of wine, this juicy sangria is made with hard cider spiked with lemon juice and apple brandy.

02 of 17

Pu-erh Tea Digestif

Pu-erh Tea Digestif
Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Sweet, smoky earthiness in the tea complements the barrel-aged cognac, making for a surprisingly smooth drink.

03 of 17

Apple Old-Fashioned

Apple Old-Fashioned
Eva Kolenko

With a deep warmth from applejack, this variation on an Old-Fashioned lets floral honey and fresh apple flavors shine without getting overpowered. For a hot drink, combine ingredients in a heatproof glass with two ounces boiling water.

04 of 17

Apple-Brandy Hot Toddies

Apple-Brandy Hot Toddies
© Rob Howard

A hot toddy is basically a shot or two of any potent spirit added to a cup of hot water. Bartender Suzanne Bozarth puts a French spin on this warming drink with a slug of apple brandy, such as Calvados.

05 of 17


© Tina Rupp

The late, great mixologist Sasha Petraske taught Richard Boccato this White Russian variation when Boccato worked for him at Milk & Honey. Boccato makes it with Caffé Lolita coffee liqueur.

06 of 17

Sparkling Cranberry-Ginger Punch with Toasted Spices

Sparkling Cranberry Ginger Punch with Toasted Spices
Photo by Greg DuPree / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

This low-alcohol punch leans on tart cranberry juice and spicy ginger ale for a big punch of flavor, allowing the booze to take a back seat. Frozen cranberries stand in for a traditional punch ring, keeping this fizzy drink nice and cold. Have an extra bottle of cold sparkling wine on hand for guests to top off their cups.

07 of 17

Cava and Pomegranate Cocktail

Cava and Pomegranate Cocktails
© Akiko Ida and Pierre Javelle

Removing seeds from a pomegranate can seem tricky. "Don't worry, it is easy!" chef José Andrés says. His method: Cut the pomegranate in half across the middle, not through the stem; then wrap each half in cheesecloth and, holding it over a large bowl, hit it hard with a spoon or rolling pin. "Just hit it! Really hit it!" Andrés urges. Then open up the bundle and pick out the seeds, which should practically pop out.

08 of 17

Gaelic Punch

Gaelic Punch
© Tina Rupp

For hot punches, young Irish whiskeys work best. Heat intensifies the tannic edge of older whiskeys; young ones stay smooth.

09 of 17



© Lucas Allen

Spirited Award-winning bartender Chris Hannah loves serving this drink in the fall and winter — especially during Mardi Gras and the carnival season in New Orleans, from January to March.

10 of 17

Rum and Orange Cocktail

Justin Walker

Amaro Montenegro, an Italian digestif, brings strong flavors of orange to this pleasantly bitter cocktail. The drink starts out warm, with light, molasses-y sweetness coming through the first sip but packs a pleasantly bitter bite. It's a touch smoky and delightfully strong. Finish it with a dash of grapefruit bitters and garnish with a grapefruit peel twist.

11 of 17

Far from the Tree

Far from the Tree
Christopher Testani

Brooklyn bartender Ivy Mix, the award-winning co-owner of Leyenda in Brooklyn, shares this cardamom-scented holiday punch. Layers of apple flavor (from cold-pressed juice, apple brandy, hard cider, and fresh apple slices) give the not-too-boozy punch an autumnal feel.

12 of 17

Concord Grape Gin Fizz


 © Jonny Valiant

This vibrant purple cocktail — made with Concord grapes, gin, port, and lemon — is frothy, fruity, and refreshing.

13 of 17

Smoky Mezcal-Fig Sour

Smoky Mezcal-Fig Sour Recipe
Victor Protasio

The spicy-sweet fig-ginger syrup rounds out the smoky mezcal and bright lemon juice in this cocktail. This drink is barely sweet, allowing the autumnal mezcal to shine.

14 of 17

Hot Buttered Spiked Cider

Hot Buttered Spiced Spiked Cider
Photo by Jen Causey / Food Styling by Melissa Gray / Prop Styling by Christina Daley

This spiked cider recipe is warming, sweet, and has just the right amount of spiced gold rum. Pumpkin pie spice offers an easy way to add autumnal flavor, while butter adds richness and makes the drink velvety. The cider is perfect for fall and winter, especially if you're entertaining outdoors and dealing with chilly weather.

15 of 17

Mott & Mulberry


© Nicole Franzen

Bar director Leo Robitschek uses fresh apple cider and maple syrup in his perfect cold-weather cocktail.

16 of 17

Gin Toasty

Gin Toasty
Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Emily Nabors Hall / Prop Styling by Audrey Davis

All it takes is a bit of hot water to give this warm alcoholic drink — a riff on a gin and tonic — a hot toddy–like edge: When heated, the botanicals in gin act like mulled spices. Using tonic syrup instead of tonic water is crucial to the drink; hot water does the same trick that effervescent bubbles do to ferry the aromatics in the gin and syrup right up to your nose. The result is an ingeniously simple warm cocktail, perfect for a snowy winter day.

17 of 17

Oaxacan Coffee

Oaxacan Coffee
Victor Protasio

With a float of whipped cream and just enough sweetness to temper the bitter coffee and herbal notes in the mezcal, this spiked coffee cocktail is well-balanced and fortifying. To make piloncillo syrup, simmer an eight-ounce cone of piloncillo in one cup of water in a small saucepan until dissolved, about 10 minutes.

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