No matter what you do for Thanksgiving this year, at least the drinks will be good.

By Carey Jones and John D. McCarthy
November 20, 2020
Credit: Carey Jones

Thanksgiving 2020: It’s a holiday unlike any other. Maybe you’re making a turkey dinner for one; maybe you’re skipping the big meal altogether. Whatever you’re doing this year, you deserve a killer cocktail. These three drinks echo classic fall flavors while still being versatile enough to pair with, well, just about anything, from turkey to duck to takeout. Cheers.

Before Dinner: Cranberry-Orange Spritz

Credit: Carey Jones

An ideal aperitif is light, refreshing, and a little bitter, readying your constitution for a big meal ahead. This spritz combines 100% cranberry juice—the super-tart stuff—with orange liqueur and bubbles; the result is almost like a Thanksgiving cranberry-orange relish in cocktail form. Since the orange liqueur is a starring ingredient here, use something great; Grand Marnier is bold and satisfying. 

Instructions: In a wine glass or similar with ice, combine an ounce of orange liqueur (use something delicious like Grand Marnier here), an ounce of 100% cranberry juice, ¾ ounce of simple syrup, and a quarter-ounce of fresh lemon juice. Top with two and a half ounces of sparkling wine and stir briefly. Garnish with fresh rosemary.

With Dinner: Cider Whiskey Sour

Credit: Carey Jones

Fresh apple cider and whiskey are a natural pairing; shake them up together with a little lemon and you’ve got a hearty sour whose flavor is all fall. Bourbon works best here, but if you’ve got a rye or Irish whiskey hanging around, go for it. This drink works perfectly with turkey—or whatever else you’re making for this unusual Thanksgiving.

Instructions: In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine two ounces of whiskey, three ounces of fresh apple cider, a quarter-ounce of fresh lemon juice, and ¾ ounce of simple syrup. Shake vigorously, and strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

After Dinner: Maple-Rum Toddy

Credit: Carey Jones

If you’d rather drink your dessert than dive right into pie—or if you’d rather do both at the same time, who’s to judge?—this cocktail is like dessert in drink form: rich dark rum sweetened just a bit with maple syrup, with warm-spice flavors from a heavy dose of Angostura bitters.

Instructions: In a heat-safe glass, combine an ounce and a half of dark rum, half an ounce of maple syrup, and five dashes of Angostura bitters. Add two ounces of near-boiling water and stir briefly. Garnish with a clove-studded orange peel.