Last week I asked my friends on Facebook what their favorite Thanksgiving cocktails were. They did not take me seriously. The most common answer was straight bourbon, which, ow, twist my arm, right? But I do like to show off a little on Turkey Day, so fancy cocktails are in order. Here are some warming, comforting, spicy drinks that will help you celebrate the harvest (and make it through the day).


Mulled wine is how people in Germany and Austria make it through the colder months. If you're planning on gathering around the chimenea after dinner, make sure you have a big thermos of this stuff to offer. It's awesome. You can also make this with white wine—and of course you can do it with non-alcoholic wine, too.

Makes 8 servings

  • 1 bottle red wine
  • 2 cups water
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons sugar (or more, to taste)
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 clementines or 1 orange, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces

Put all ingredients in stainless steel pot and bring it to a simmer.

Ladle the warm mixture into mugs and be sure to get some orange pieces in each mug. Watch out for the cloves.

If your family is making you crazy, hit your mug with a shot of brandy (or whatever makes the pain go away).

Orange Spiced Manhattan

This sounds gross, but it is secretly delightful. If you mess with the proportions of a Manhattan and add a lot more bitters, you get something deep, earthy and mysteriously spicy. The bitters make your lips tingle and the flavor stays with you.

Makes 1

  • 1 1/2 ounces bourbon
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 3/4 ounce Grand Marnier or Cointreau
  • 3/4 ounce Angostura bitters
  • 1 half-dollar-sized slice of orange peel, for garnish

Pour all of the ingredients into a shaker full of ice and shake for 30 seconds. Pour into a martini glass.

(I think it's a little cold for ice, but you can also serve this on the rocks. I like to use one giant ice cube instead of filling an old-fashioned glass with little cubes. Stir until the ice melts a little.)

Garnish with orange peel and serve.

Pomegranate Champagne Cocktail

Pomegranates ripen just before Thanksgiving, so I often use them in my cranberry sauce—and in cocktails. If you have a fancy juicer you can put the arils (the pomegranate kernels) in there and zoom away. For a smaller amount I squeeze the arils in a lime juicer (make sure to avoid the bitter white pith). But you know what works great? Put the arils in a gallon-size zippered storage bag and aggressively roll them with a rolling pin.

Don't be afraid of the gin here. It keeps the drink from being too sweet or too simple. And although you can use cheap bubbly, you'll have a noticeably better drink with a higher-quality bottle.

Makes 1

  • 1 ounce gin
  • 1 ounce pomegranate juice
  • 1 ounce sparkling wine

Shake the gin and pomegranate juice with ice, then pour into a flute. Top with Champagne.

Ginger Pirate

Yeah, I made this with Captain Morgan, which, OK, normally I don't have on my bar, but a sweet friend gave me a box of booze when she moved away, and … Enough excuses. This drink hinges on having at least two of the three ingredients be really good. And the cider kind of has to be one of them or else the drink is sweet and gross (try counteracting this with a little lemon juice). I say buy great apple cider and killer ginger beer … and use up that Captain Morgan.

Makes 1

  • 1 1/2 ounces aged rum
  • 1 1/2 ounces freshly pressed apple cider
  • 1 1/2 ounces serious ginger beer
  • 1 slice apple

Shake the apple cider and rum with ice. Pour into a short glass full of ice, top with ginger beer and garnish with an apple slice.

Cranberry Margarita

Excuse me while I rant: I hate salt or sugar or weird stuff on the rim of a glass I'm supposed to be drinking out of. It's like an obstacle course. I just want this booze in my mouth now. I don't want to have to brush off clumpy crystals of something distracting. That being said, feel free to dip your glass in lime juice and salt or sugar or red gelatin flakes or blue meth or whatever. If you really want to irritate the hell out of your guests go ahead and float some fresh cranberries on the top of this thing. No one will want to eat them! They will totally impede drinking! But it'll look cute.

Makes 4

  • 1 1/2 cups pure cranberry juice
  • 3/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 cup tequila
  • 1/2 cup Cointreau or Triple Sec

Pour all of the ingredients into a shaker filled with ice. Shake. Pour the whole thing into recycled glass coupes shaped like a saguaro. Enjoy!