Whether you’re celebrating Thanksgiving with family or having Friendsgiving with your BFFs, booze is almost always a welcome addition to the party—and making cocktails with your cooking ingredients, from cranberry sauce to whipping cream, is not only practical and economical, but delicious.
So save money on mixers and embrace the flavors of the season by setting aside a few extra bits and pieces while you’re making your meal—the lemons, oranges, and herbs you use to flavor the turkey are great cocktail ingredients too; ditto the cranberry sauce you make (or buy). If you’re using apples in your stuffing, earmark a few for drinks to go alongside, and reserve some surplus cinnamon and mini marshmallows from the sweet potato casserole to craft dessert-worthy cocktails. Even your eggs, butter, and heavy cream can come into play.
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You can do something as simple as muddle some pomegranate seeds (strain the juice if you don’t like bits in your drink) and top it off with sparkling wine, or stir a spoonful of spiced cranberry relish into hard cider, but if you have a few minutes to spare, most of these cocktails are pretty easy—and are made up chiefly of ingredients you’ll already have on hand for your meal.
If you’ve got a kids’ table, you’ve got apple juice on hand, so why not filch a little bit for a grown-up drink that adds gin, fresh lemon juice, and ginger beer? You can use apple cider instead of juice if your prefer. Either way, a little freshly grated nutmeg is a nice flourish. Get the “Fall All Over” Gin Apple Cider Cocktail recipe.
If nonalcoholic sparkling cider in its alluringly Champagne-like bottle is still a staple of your holiday table but you’re old enough (and inclined) to drink actual booze these days, this drink combines the cider with a bit of vodka, cranberry juice, and ginger beer. Save some fresh cranberries before you start your sauce so you can use them as a festive garnish here. Get the Apple Cranberry Moscow Mule recipe.
Speaking of cranberry sauce, it’s great with booze. Think of this as a more rustic—and yet somehow also fancier—Cosmopolitan. It could hardly get any easier, either: just stir some cranberry sauce into vodka and top it off with whatever sparkly substance you like, from Sprite to Champagne. Bonus points if your cranberry sauce has some interesting flavors going on already, like orange zest and ginger, or cinnamon and Port. Get the Cranberry Sauce Vodka Smash recipe.
Buy bags of lemons and oranges, and with the ones you don’t use for the turkey, make this refreshing citrus cocktail with freshly grated ginger (leftover from your cranberry sauce, perhaps?) and that quintessential sweet fall flavor: maple syrup. Get the Ginger Maple Bourbon Cocktail recipe.
If you’re roasting butternut squash for soup, make a bit more than you need so you can use it to infuse vodka for a signature cocktail. It does take at least five days to infuse—but just like you can make many Thanksgiving recipes ahead of time, you can get the jump on drinks too. Vodka and simple syrup let the squash flavor shine, and cinnamon and nutmeg mingle merrily along. (If you don’t have time for that, there are also lots of great ways to use the squash puree in cocktails right away.) Get the Winter Squash Cocktail recipe.
Should you like apples in your stuffing, get a few extra and roast them on their own in a small pan alongside something else, then use them in this cheerful take on the classic Moscow Mule, with a little cinnamon and sugar to sweeten the experience. Get the Roasted Apple Mule recipe.
Chances are you’ll have plenty of fresh herbs on hand, so snag a few sprigs for making drinks, like this refreshing but punchy concoction of ruby red grapefruit juice, lemon juice, rosemary, and honey simple syrup, which is easy to whisk up in a few minutes. A tiny pinch of sea salt offsets all the sweet-sharp and aromatic flavors. Get the Ruby Red and Rosemary Honey Cocktail recipe.
If you prefer brown drinks in the fall, bourbon marries beautifully with rosemary too; here, the herb is infused along with cinnamon into a honey-sweetened syrup. Get the Cinnamon Rosemary Old Fashioned recipe.
Sage is one of our favorite autumn herbs, and a classic partner to turkey and stuffing, so use some in your cocktail too, along with lemon juice, bourbon, and an egg white? The sage is made into a gingery simple syrup and lightly singed for a fragrant garnish. Try tequila in place of the bourbon if you like. Get the Smoked Sage Cocktail recipe.
If you’re not familiar with golden syrup, now is the perfect time to get acquainted with its caramelized flavor. It’s great in a bourbon pecan pie, and can also sweeten up your drink while adding a little toasty depth. You can try some in place of simple syrup in any drink that would benefit from its slightly darker flavor. Get the Golden Sazerac recipe.
You’re probably making pumpkin pie, so you may as well pick up an extra can of pumpkin puree, because it happens to be great in cocktails. You can cook it into a spiced syrup as in this smash, or stir the puree straight into fuller-bodied drinks (like this Pumpkin Pie Martini). Get the Bourbon Pumpkin Smash recipe.
Two-for-one-sales and the need to stock up for pie crusts and holidays cookies means you probably also have plenty of butter on hand. If so, make this classic cocktail to warm you up, in more ways than one. Get our Hot Buttered Rum recipe.
Got lots of mini marshmallows that didn’t make it onto your casserole? Shower them over mugs of spiked hot chocolate for an after-after-dinner treat. (Or if you still have enough energy, skewer and broil them to garnish these S’moretini Shooters.) Get the Kahlua Hot Chocolate recipe.
And if you still have lemons, oranges, cinnamon, and cloves hanging around after all that, why not make mulled wine, one of the most festive drinks around? It’s best made with good wine, of course, but it’s not a bad way to make a less-than-stellar bottle taste a lot better. Get our Mulled Wine recipe.
When you’re ready to shake things up, see some of the best cocktail sets on Amazon.
Related Video: Make Delicious Sangria Using Cranberry Sauce
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