When it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, you can predict a lot of elements about the way it will all go down. The food you’ll find on the table, the football gameplay the guys will declare was “huge”, the story Aunt Brenda will inevitably retell about the first time she tried to make a turkey. After all, the holidays are rooted in tradition and it’s nice to look forward to seeing the same people and celebrate the same traditions every year. However, the festivities can also get a little stale when they become too predictable. If you’re the one playing host, you don’t want your dinner soirée to feel like an obligation. It should feel like a party.
What’s the best way to shake things up and get the party started, you ask? By shaking up some festive cocktails!
I’ve found this to be a fabulous activity to help your guests loosen up and spark some conversations – whether they all know each other or not, big gatherings can get uncomfortable for some people. I’m not saying alcohol is the answer, but hey, it sure helps stir up the fun. If you’re hosting Turkey Day at your place or even just planning a fall party, here are three fab cocktail recipes that will impress your guests and make your gathering one for the books.
This holiday you can skip the candles because this mulled wine recipe from GimmeSomeOven will leave the house smelling amazing as it warms your glasses and tickles your tastebuds!
- 1 (750 ml) bottle of dry red wine
- 1 orange, sliced into rounds (also peeled, if you would like a less-bitter drink)
- 8 whole cloves
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2-star anise
- 2–4 tablespoons sugar, honey, or maple syrup to taste (or your desired sweetener)
- optional add-in: 1/4 cup brandy (or your favorite liqueur)
- optional garnishes: citrus slices (orange, lemon and/or lime), extra cinnamon sticks, extra star anise
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and heat until the mixture just barely reaches a simmer over medium-high heat. (Avoid boiling — you don’t want to boil off the alcohol.) Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and let the wine simmer for at least 15 minutes or up to 3 hours. Strain, and serve warm with your desired garnishes.
This cocktail is the perfect balance of sweet and sour and the ingredients make it festive for fall. I found the recipe on Bon Appetit and it seems to be a concoction that appeals to all types of guests. Plus, it takes no time at all to mix one up once you’ve got all the ingredients in front of you.
- 2 oz. applejack
- ¾ oz lemon juice
- ½ oz fresh OJ
- ½ oz pure maple syrup
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- Fresh nutmeg
Pour all of the ingredients (except nutmeg) into a cocktail shaker, add ice, and shake until the outside of the container is frosty. Pour over ice, sprinkle with nutmeg, and serve!
Often considered to be the Puerto Rican version of eggnog, Coquito is a creamy, sweet + boozy drink typically served over ice with a dash of cinnamon– it’s the perfect cocktail for a gathering and even a wonderful gift! Some people believe the traditional recipe should include eggs but I found this recipe from HostTheToast that substituted it.
- 15 ounces cream of coconut
- 15 ounces of coconut milk
- 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
- 12 ounces evaporated milk
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (plus more to top)
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 cup (or more) white rum
- 2 vanilla beans – split in half
- 3–4 whole cinnamon sticks
In a blender, combine the canned ingredients, vanilla extract, ground cinnamon, and ground nutmeg. Blend until well-combined. Add in the rum and blend again. Taste and adjust as preferred.
Pour the mixture into a pitcher and add in the vanilla beans and cinnamon sticks. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve or divide into bottles. Letting the mixture refrigerate for at least an hour allows the flavor from the vanilla beans and cinnamon sticks to meld with the cocktail mixture.
Allow the coquito to sit at room temperature until it thins before serving. Serve over ice, if desired, with an extra sprinkle of cinnamon.
Cranberry Moscow Mule
Who needs cranberry sauce when you can have a cranberry cocktail? I found this recipe on Pinterest and was immediately intrigued by the Thanksgiving spin on this classic drink. It’s quick, simple to make, and has a fruity, refreshing taste with just the right amount of kick.
- 8 oz. ginger beer
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 shot vodka
- 1 tbsp cranberry juice cocktail (sweet)
- Raw cranberries and lime slices
Mix all of the liquid ingredients together and stir. Pour over ice in copper mugs and garnish with raw cranberries and limes.
Blue-cumber Lime Margarita
A twist on a classic. A few extra ingredients will definitely elevate this refreshing staple. I found this recipe from TownandCountry.
- 1.5 oz Blue Nectar Silver
- 3-4 slices of cucumber
- .75 oz Cointreau
- 1.5 oz lime juice
- 1.5 oz lime simple syrup*
Muddle cucumber with Blue Nectar Tequila. Add remaining ingredients and shake over ice. Strain into rocks glass. Garnish with cucumber slice.
*For Lime Syrup
Combine 2 cups of water, 1.5 cups of sugar, and zest of 1 lime in a saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and cool until ready for use.
Pecan Pie Martini
I found this recipe on Delish and was instantly smitten by the looks of it. It can be a little tricky to master the whole artistic finish, but at least the taste will be on point! You can whip this sucker up in just twenty minutes. The recipe below is for three people.
- 6 oz. rumchata
- 6 oz. creme de cocoa
- 3 oz. bourbon
- 3 tbsp caramel
- ¼ cup toasted chopped pecans
- Whip cream
- Whole pecans
Microwave caramel until it’s pourable, and pour into a dish. Pour chopped pecans into a separate dish. Dip the rims of each glass into the caramel and then the pecans for an artisan effect. Next, mix the rumchata, creme de cocoa and bourbon in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake for about 30 seconds. Pour the mixture into the glass and garnish with a dollop of whipped cream, an almond, and a pinch of cinnamon. YUM.
I hope these libations add just the right kick of flavor to your Thanksgiving traditions. Let me know if you have any favorite recipes in the comments!