When you’re planning your Thanksgiving menu, you’re sure to get the basics—the turkey, of course. Something like mashed potatoes, a couple of green vegetables, sweet potatoes, perhaps with marshmallows or a brown sugar crumble, a crisp salad, and at least a few types of pie. You’ll probably also give some thought to drinks, both alcoholic and not. A couple varieties of whites and red come to mind. But what about cocktails? Whether you want to make one big-batch punch or sangria that everyone can enjoy, or are ready to unleash your inner mixologist and offer a few signature cocktails for the feast, these Thanksgiving cocktail recipes are the menu upgrade you’ve been waiting for.
Grab a gallon of apple cider and get ready to make the most autumnal cocktail your bar cart has ever seen. You boil down the cider into a thickened syrup and then mixed with rye whiskey over ice and garnished with a cinnamon stick.
Two cold weather favorites join forces for one warm and cozy cocktail. If you want to go all out, make your own cider too (we’ll tell you how!).
Margaritas aren’t just for tropical vacations, taco Tuesdays, and fruity mixers. Apple cider and a couple of pinches of cinnamon make it just right for fall gatherings.
It only takes four ingredients—bourbon, Amaro Nonino, Aperol, and lemon juice—and less than five minutes to make this Thanksgiving cocktail, which comes from New York’s Little Branch, an underground cocktail bar.
There’s no better celebratory cocktail for Thanksgiving than mulled wine…make that sparkling mulled wine. A combination of prosecco and red wine will join hands for your festive fête.
Food52’s Resident Drinks Expert John deBary uses Japanese whiskey and orange bitters for a woodsy, intensely aromatic Thanksgiving cocktail.
St. George spiced pear liqueur and bourbon are the ultimate duo for an earthy Thanksgiving cocktail. Barkeep, make it a double!
You’re probably familiar with the uber-chic French 75 (champagne, gin, simple syrup, and lemon). This twist on the elegant classic cocktail introduces an earthy wine syrup and a trio of citrus fruit for a drink that will pair well with a classic roast turkey or cornbread stuffing.
“This drink is inspired by my time living in Seattle,” says bar director Natasha David. “Washington state is of course well known for all of its beautiful apples,” she adds, so it’s no surprise that they’re the star of this margarita.
10. Apple Rye Punch
When you picture the perfect Thanksgiving cocktail, what flavors come to mind? Apple cider, probably some warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, and maybe bourbon or rye, right? Lucky for you, this recipe has it all.
11. Autumn Ash
“Scotch is often an acquired taste. The peat-smudged smoke can be too intense for some people. However, the hint of apple and elderflower in this drink sweetens the smokiness just enough to appeal to a broader range of palates,” writes recipe developer Greg Henry.
12. Red Wine Sangria
The beauty of sangria is that you can really make it your own. Choose your favorite type of red wine (though this probably isn’t the time to use a robust vintage Bordeaux), a few autumnal fruits (John deBary chose apples, oranges, and luxardo cherries), and something bubbly like sparkling water or prosecco.
Homemade pecan and tea orgeat (made from black tea, pecans, and vodka) turn an otherwise classic lime margarita into a complementary cocktail for your Thanksgiving feast.
14. Whiskey Punch
Whiskey lemonade is on constant rotation throughout summer but it also works so well as a Thanksgiving cocktail, thanks to the bright citrus notes that offset so many savory flavors on the dinner table.
“I spent most of the fall playing with cranberry, pumpkin, pears, and figs in gin cocktails. This one is one of my favorites, combining muddled figs with a hit of maple syrup, tart lime, and spicy ginger beer, all circling around the complex flavors of gin,” writes recipe developer fiveandspice.
Want to get a head start on prepping for Thanksgiving? Make the pomegranate-cinnamon syrup up to two weeks in advance so that all you have to do on Turkey Day is shake it with bourbon, lime and grapefruit juice, and a couple of dashes of bitters.
Our editors call this warm-and-cozy whiskey cocktail just right for sipping curled up next to a fire, as snow gently falls outside your window all winter long.
18. Winter Spritz
Campari and blood orange juice seem like the makings of the perfect summer cocktail, but when paired with hard apple cider, it’s suddenly just right for Thanksgiving too.
19. Islay 75
If we have to choose just one liquor to rely on throughout autumn, it would be applejack whiskey.
20. New York Sour
Rye whiskey is the quintessential fall liquor. Sorry, but I don’t make the rules. A little bit of lemon syrup, simple syrup, and red wine are mixed with the rye for easy Thanksgivin’ drinkin’.
When you’re looking for a big-batch, crowd-ready cocktail for Thanksgiving, red mulled wine is here to save the day. Cinnamon sticks, star anise, ground cloves, and fresh orange zest add just the right amount of sugar, spice, and everything nice.
All the hallmarks of a classic fall cocktail—sweet vermouth, bitters, and Luxardo—remain in this version of the martinez cocktail, while dark rum replaces the gin.
23. Whiskey Sour
A four-ingredient, classic drink that you can batch in advance. Leave a shaker for guests to put the finishing froth on top, or keep things simple, and skip the egg white and the final shake.
Double the ginger syrup for this citrusy cocktail, and you’ll have a spicy mixer to add to club soda for easy mocktails.
Grapefruit and rosemary bring this summery drink straight into fall—as does lighting the sprig of rosemary for a smoky garnish.
What better way to start your Thanksgiving morning?
Combine dry vermouth and dry sherry, a dash of bitters, and lemon for a low-ABV cocktail and a conversation starter.
This pops up on our list of favorite cocktails for good reason. It’s a little bit bitter, a little bit sweet, and it’s caffeinated too—perfect for providing staying power for your epic feast.
29. Italian Sparkler
Bubbly, bitter, and just the right amount of festive, you can batch this in advance and leave the Prosecco for guests to top it off.
This one calls for a nonalcoholic “spirit,” Ghia, and pairs it with blood orange juice and an IPA—with or without alcohol—for either a full mocktail or something close.
31. Old Fashioned
Call us old fashioned (sorry!), but this whiskey drink is one of the most quintessential fall cocktails—and it’s simple (just four ingredients) for guests to build their own.
This article was updated in October 2023 with even more of our favorite Thanksgiving cocktails.
More entertaining inspiration from Food52
Do you prefer your Thanksgiving cocktail shaken or stirred? Let us know which drink(s) will be on your menu!