Among the many things I’m thankful for is that I have a personal bartender—my husband. I just tell him what I’m in the mood for—a spicy margarita, a fresh daiquiri, or his specialty, a Bloody Mary—and he emerges a few minutes later with a Instagram-worthy cocktail that’s been created just for me.
To challenge his mixology skills, I’m always looking for new inspiration to help expand his repertoire. This Thanksgiving, I reached out to several acclaimed bartenders and spirits professionals around the country for easy cocktail recipes that pair well with Turkey Day (and all the trimmings).
Here’s what we—and by we, I mean he—will be shaking up this year.
Easy Cocktail Recipes for Thanksgiving
NEGRONI SBAGLIATO SPEZIATO
“The holidays in Italy call to mind many of the same nostalgic flavors we have here in the States. The aromas of baking spices and citrus oils remind me of the warmth of friends and family gathering together at home. At Brother Wolf, our Italian aperitivo bar in Knoxville, we are thrilled at the overdue attention being paid to the classic Negroni Sbagliato (with prosecco). Our take on the Sbagliato infuses the bitter aperitivo with traditional festive notes that perfectly complement the simple, dry, lower proofed, and lightly effervescent cocktail classico. The addition of raisins and cocoa nibs provide a warmth that rounds out the sharpness of the spices. We love this drink thrown into a large wine glass over ice—but it’s also great without the ice in a Champagne flute. Perfect for the holiday season! Also: The recipe can be batched, so far as the first two ingredients are be combined prior to. (I would add the prosecco maybe an hour prior to service.)” —Jessica King, founder of Brother Wolf, Knoxville, Tennessee
1 oz. spiced Italian red bitter aperitivo**
1 oz. red vermouth
3 oz. prosecco
**Directions for the Spiced Aperitivo
1 bottle Italian red bitter aperitivo (such as Contratto Bitter, Select Aperitivo, or Campari)
2.5 tbsp. raisins
1.5 tbsp. cacao nibs
Peel of one orange
1 cinnamon stick
1 whole clove
**Directions for Spiced Aperitivo: Combine ingredients in a glass container and store for 3-5 days (to taste) before serving. For an instant infusion, combine ingredients in an iSi whipper, charge, relieve pressure, and strain.
Method: Combine vermouth and aperitivo in a wine glass with ice. Top with prosecco and gently stir. Garnish with a cloved orange slice.
JOHNNIE WALKER MIDNIGHT BLACK
“One of my favorite childhood memories growing up in Puerto Rico was drinking afternoon coffee with my grandmother. And she always accompanied it with short bread or ‘Maria’ cookies. The dark roasted sugars were wonderful with the full bodied, almost chocolatey Puerto Rican coffee. We have a long-term love affair with Johnnie Walker Black Label on the island and it makes its way into chilled coconuts and piña coladas alike. Its brown sugar, butterscotch, and vanilla notes work very well with our palates, and the smokiness shines through just enough to bring an interesting flavor without being overpowering. This may be a simple old-fashioned riff but it’s also a subtle nod to a simple little memory.” —Alberto Miranda, bartender at Nobody Told Me, New York City
1.5 oz. Johnnie Walker Black Label
0.50 oz. coffee liqueur
0.25 oz. demerara or panela syrup
2 dashes of Angostura bitters
2 dashes orange bitters
Method: Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and stir over ice for 10 seconds. Strain and pour over fresh ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with 1 lemon and 1 orange peel.
“In preparation for dinner, or as a digestive after, I love this cocktail all through the Thanksgiving celebration with its bright and bitter combination of flavors that cut through the traditional heavy fare of a holiday meal. And the best part is, now you finally have a use for all that leftover cranberry sauce!” —Kiowa Bryan, national director of trade and marketing at Spiribam
1.5 oz. aged rhum agricole (like Rhum Clement Select Barrel) or rye whiskey
0.5 oz. lemon juice
0.5 o.z Cynar
1 large tsp. cranberry sauce
Method: Shake with ice and fine strain over fresh ice into rocks glass. Garnish with cloved spiced orange twist or candied cranberries.
“The Sagamore Fizz blends together the best ingredients of the holiday season, cranberry syrup, rosemary, cinnamon, and Sagamore’s Maryland-style rye whiskey. It’s a simple but impressive cocktail to serve for a crowd. Just mix the rye whiskey, lime juice, and cranberry simple syrup—then offer guests a DIY garnish bar of cranberries, rosemary, and a club soda topper.” —Justin Katz, bar manager at Sagamore Spirit
1 750 ml. bottle of Sagamore Spirit rye
8.5 oz. lime juice
17 oz. spiced cranberry syrup**
**Directions for Spiced Cranberry Syrup: Boil equal parts sugar, water, and cranberries. For every cup of water, add one cinnamon stick and one rosemary sprig. Remove from heat once boiling and let sit overnight, then strain.
Method: Add Sagamore rye, lime juice, and spiced cranberry syrup to dispenser (or punch bowl) and stir. Pour over ice. Top with club soda. Garnish with a rosemary sprig and cranberries.
ILEGAL CHAPULIN COCKTAIL
“The Chapulin Cocktail is perfect for the holiday season. The flavor profile is refreshing from the mint, the texture is velvety and there is just a hint of smoke from the Ilegal mezcal. I love this drink because it’s easy to make and a departure from the hot cocktails that everybody is used to during the holidays. I first had this drink during quarantine at a bar called The Grasshopper in Long Beach, California, which had this variation of the classic Grasshopper on their to-go menu. Like most people at the time, I was bummed out and didn’t have a lot of interaction with my friends during lockdown. My good friend Omar Rodriguez, who also happened to be the bar manager, knew I needed a drink and invited me to his bar to pick up some cocktails curbside. We didn’t get to sit at the bar like we usually did but at least I got a fist bump and a great cocktail out of it.” —Gilbert Marquez, global brand ambassador at Ilegal Mezcal
1 oz. Ilegal Mezcal Joven
1 oz. crème de menthe
1 oz. cream
1 oz. crème de cacao
Method: Combine all ingredients into a shaker and shake until chilled. Strain into a stemmed glass and garnish with Mexican chocolate
“This cocktail is great for Thanksgiving and any get-together because not only do you get all those fragrant fall spices, it’s also a low abv cocktail. Since we are substituting gin for an effervescent prosecco, your guests will be able to have multiple cocktails without the immediate effect. Not to mention, it’s also very easy to prepare. Having a large-format cocktail like this is great because you won’t find yourself behind the bar constantly trying to whip up some cocktails.” —Saeed “Hawk” House, content creator and bar consultant
1 750 ml. bottle of Spanish-style sweet vermouth (or your preferred sweet vermouth)
1 750 ml. bottle mulled spice Campari**
2 bottles Korbel prosecco
**Directions for Mulled Spice Campari: In a large Mason jar, combine 1 bottle of Campari and 5 tablespoons of mulling spice. Save the Campari bottle. Close Mason jar and shake vigorously. Store in the fridge for 2–3 days. Be sure to shake or agitate each day. After 2–3 days, strain the contents of the mason jar back into the Campari bottle.
Method: Combine all ingredients in punch bowl with 4 large ice cubes. Stir to incorporate ingredients. Then garnish the punch bowl with clove studded orange wheels. When serving, serve over a large cube, express an orange peel over the top, and drop it in.
“Everyone judges duplicate pies whether they admit it or not, but we know the best apple pie is the one you wash down with a Cider Sling. Hang on to this one from the dinner table to the tryptophan-induced couch session.” —Marissa Mazzotta, bar manager at The Shanty, New York
0.25 oz. Allspice Dram
0.25 oz. cinnamon
0.75 oz. lemon
1.5 oz. Applejack Barrel Finished Ragtime Rye
2 oz. apple cider juice
Method: Pour the ingredients back and forth between two cocktail glasses to evenly distribute the flavors (otherwise known as the rolling technique). Top with seltzer and Angostura bitters.