Planning a Thanksgiving dinner is not an easy task. Some people prefer to follow the traditions to a T and prepare the perfectly roasted turkey, filling stuffing, creamy mashed potatoes, tart cranberry sauce, and sweet pumpkin pie. A whole variety of popular drinks is inseparable from the image of a Thanksgiving get-together. At a party, you will most probably be served a glass of a fruity punch, mimosa, or wine.
But nowadays, the image of Thanksgiving is changing rapidly. Even though it remains a day when families reunite and show gratitude, more and more people decide to reinvent the usual menu and diversify it by adding different cultures’ dishes, vegetarian food, etc. In this article, we decided to experiment with Thanksgiving cocktail ideas by visiting the best bars in the USA and tasting the artisan drinks created by talented bartenders. Join us on this adventure and find a cocktail to your liking.
Empanadas refer to pies with fillings - the dish is usually cooked from wheat flour, beef fat, and cheese. The name of the stuffed bread comes from the Spanish verb 'empanar' which means 'wrap' in bread.
The first suggestion is a rather unconventional choice for Thanksgiving: Cubano Viejo from Cafe La Trova in Miami. The place is a joyous restaurant that represents beautiful Cuban culture. The food menu at Cafe La Trova has been thoughtfully developed by Chef Michelle Bernstein. She experiments with traditional Cuban cuisine and modernizes it. Authentic filling empanadas or croquetas will be the best pairing for artisan rum-based cocktails. You will witness jaw-dropping flair performed by bartenders and enjoy handcrafted cocktails. We have chosen this authentic place for a reason. This reason is Julio Cabrera, one of the world’s most famous and talented bartenders. He is an ambassador of Cuban culture, reflected in his mixology style. And we believe that Cubano Viejo is a great choice to shake up your Thanksgiving party. As a base, you should pick Havana Club añejo Clasico rum. Don’t go for any aged rum because its flavor is dominant, and such spirits are meant to be enjoyed pure. In a cocktail, they strongly overpower all the flavors. Other ingredients are similar to any fizz: mint and lime juice. But you will need demerara syrup instead of simple syrup and ginger beer instead of soda water. Add a few drops of bitters to spice up the whole thing. This simple cocktail can be a perfect aperitif before the Thanksgiving dinner and a light fizzy drink to accompany the entire Thanksgiving party.
Our next inspiration for a perfect Thanksgiving cocktail idea was found at Julia Momose’s Kumiko – another one of America’s top bars. Here, you will experience the finesse of Julia’s style in every tiny detail: be it the minimalistic light-colored interior beautifully decorated with flowers, making the place stand out among Chicago’s bars. At the bar, you can taste a glass of fine Japanese whisky, sake, and shochu. The cocktail menu changes seasonally. Julia loves experimenting not only with cocktails, but with mocktails as well. And you can always find here an innovative mix that doesn’t include a spirit.
Our suggestion for the upcoming Thanksgiving would be Kumiko’s original mocktail The Pepperberry Tonic. Made with Tasmanian pepperberries, angelica root, sansho Japanese pepper, and elderflower tonic, this refreshing drink is an ideal aperitif for your Thanksgiving dinner. Angelica root, juniper berries, orange, citron, coriander, and cardamom are used as the base for most gins. And tonic is the most common filler for this spirit. All these combined make The Pepperberry Tonic the best floral non-alcoholic alternative for the classic Gin and Tonic.
Corn, tomatoes, and chili are a typical Mexican combination that goes well with fried chicken. It turns out delicious and unusual.
The next cocktail on our list was created in the World’s Best Bar in 2019 – Dante. Located in New York, Dante is known for its refreshing herby Garibaldi mix, prepared with Campari and fresh orange juice. It can remind you of the bitter older brother of Aperol Sour. Garibaldi is a perfect aperitif for any occasion, and a must-try at Dante. And since we have already brought up the gin topic in the previous block, let's live it up with the unique gin-based creation at Dante: Clever Clover Club. Made with the famous Bombay Sapphire and rose wine, and sweetened with the delicate Raspberry liqueur and the pairing of vanilla and raspberry syrups, this sensational mix is perfecteed by adding sparkling Prosecco for the best fizziness. Unlike whisky or cognac, gin is the spirit best consumed with lots of ice cubes in a tall glass or thoroughly shaken with ice. Clever Clover Club is a pleasant cocktail with a sweet berry note. And if you get a chance to enjoy it at Dante, you should also try their fire-roasted organic chicken alla diavola.
Cranberry sauce is deeply rooted in the image of a traditional American Thanksgiving. But the world of mixology is undoubtedly unimaginable without cranberries as well. These tart red berries are filler in the famous Cosmopolitan cocktail, invented in New York and popularized worldwide by the iconic HBO series “Sex and the City”. At Service Bar in Washington, DC, you can enjoy a well-balanced variation of this cocktail – Samantha Is Back. This beautiful homage to cosmo is also made with vodka and cranberry juice. But sour yuzu and refreshing coriander make it taste more exotic. Samantha Is Back can be a perfect choice not only for your Thanksgiving party, but for any kind of get-together. But don’t forget that a mix of vodka and juice is a tricky combination: the spirit has no distinguished smell or taste. Thus, any vodka-based cocktail will mostly taste like juice. Make sure not to over-indulge.
This lobster roll is very popular in the summer, because it refers to cold snacks and has a pleasant and refreshing taste. Actually, it's like a hot dog, only lobster instead of sausage. It has been rumored that it was a long time ago when there were so many lobsters in Boston County that they even fed prisoners. Since then, they are served inside crispy fresh rolls on the leaves of green.
We decided to finish this list on a spritzy note. For this reason, we have visited a one-of-a-kind place – Dear Irving. It is a must-visit if you are fond of Woody Allen’s magical Midnight in Paris. Indulge in the sweet nostalgia and imagine that you are sharing the table with Salvador Dali, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgeralds, Ernest Hemingway, and Pablo Picasso. The atmosphere of escapism at Dear Irving can be accompanied by chili-lime tuna tartare, lobster rolls, and macarons served as shareable plates. Everyone’s darling at this fairy bar is Marie Antoinette – a liquid version of Black forest cake. But in light of the recent popularity of all kinds of Spritzes, we would like to tell you about Dear Irving’s take on these sparkling hits.
Strawberry Letter is prepared in a large wine glass filled with ice cubes. You should specifically use cubed ice for this kind of cocktail because crushed ice melts too fast and makes your drink taste too watery. And while Aperol Spritz or Hugo are built with Prosecco, Strawberry Letter is prepared by mixing Aperol, rose wine and seltzer, and strawberry shrub. If you are planning a grand Thanksgiving get-together, you can prepare this cocktail in a bowl or a pitcher.
Mixology is not only the art of preparing cocktails. It is also a knowledge of the origin and history of every spirit, as well as the craft of discovering the perfect combinations and proportions. If you decided to brighten up your Thanksgiving party with a delicious cocktail, you should remember the basic rules of mixology: always pick the good spirits for the base of your drink; a cheap filler juice can spoil the entire cocktail; ice is an essential ingredient of every cocktail; don’t forget the garnish. Use this simple advice and have a great party. Or you can always rely on professionals and visit the great bars discovered in our guide.
Do you have a signature drink or a favorite cocktail? Share your secret in the comment section below.