More than any other holiday, Thanksgiving invites us to focus on life’s simplest pleasures—warm gatherings with loved ones and abundant comfort food. Of course, no food-related event would be complete without the right beverages to complement the meal. Whether your family’s Thanksgiving is a casual affair or something more elegant, serving a delicious, perfectly paired cocktail will make your day even more special and memorable.
However, finding the right drink to pair with your holiday menu can be challenging. For many Americans, Thanksgiving celebrations are steeped in decades of family tradition and come with many predetermined menu items.
While you might normally enjoy sipping your old fashioned with a thick, juicy steak, you probably won’t be swapping out a Thanksgiving classic, like turkey, to accommodate your drink menu. Another issue is that cocktails naturally feature bold and complex flavor profiles that might seem challenging to match with your favorite holiday foods.
Of course, you’ll also want to ensure the drinks you serve won’t be overly complicated or time-consuming to create during what’s already a busy day. But never fear! In this guide, we’ll offer ideas for solving all of these issues. We’ll explain a little bit of the science behind cocktail pairings, offer up tried-and-true combinations for your Thanksgiving meal, and even delve into the simplest method of serving a quality cocktail.
Applying the Science of Cocktail Pairing to Your Thanksgiving Meal
Just like with wines, cocktails come with their own set of best practices for pairing with food. According to experts, a successful pairing will either involve complementary flavor profiles or subtly contrasting ones. A good place to start is by considering the flavor profile of your menu items.
For instance, if you’re serving something with a high fat content, like mac and cheese, selecting a cocktail with some acidity can make the dish even more enjoyable. Cocktails that include citrus notes offer an excellent contrast to rich foods, refreshing your mouth. Margaritas, cosmopolitans, vodka gimlets, and south sides are just a few examples of cocktails that feature prominent acidic notes of lime or lemongrass.
For something that’s savory, like stuffing, a cocktail with herbaceous notes, like something gin-based, provides a refreshing contrast. Gin-based drinks are also an unbeatable match for seafood, so a gin cocktail would go well with a recipe for oyster stuffing. When it comes to desserts, you’ll want to balance the level of sweetness so that the experience doesn’t become overpowering.
Let’s take a closer look at these flavor pairings in action by discussing some of the best Thanksgiving dinner cocktail pairings.
Perfect Thanksgiving Cocktail Pairings
If you’re looking for a quick drinks menu solution for your holiday dinner, we have you covered. No Thanksgiving table would be complete without classics like roasted turkey, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. Here are some ideas for a flavorful cocktail to match each of these dishes, along with extra tips on why the pairings work.
Southside Cocktails with Turkey
The combination of dry gin and fresh citrus is a refreshing complement to roasted turkey, introducing botanical notes and dimension to the palate. A south side cocktail, with its combination of crisp dry gin, fresh lime juice, and mint is the perfect option. It’s also light enough to complete many traditional Thanksgiving side dishes without overpowering them.
Cosmopolitans with Cranberry Sauce
Blended from vodka, orange curacao, and cranberry juice with subtle tartness from a hint of lime, the cosmopolitan is a perfect match to enjoy alongside your family’s favorite cranberry sauce. This pairing allows tart notes to play off of each other perfectly.
Old Fashioneds with Pecan Pie
An old fashioned is a great match for something rich, like decadent dark chocolate. It’s also an excellent match for pecan pie. Pecan pie’s rich sweetness harmonizes wonderfully with a bourbon with warm notes of vanilla or caramel.
Espresso Martini with Pumpkin Pie
When it comes to desserts, an espresso martini is the ideal choice to enjoy alongside your pumpkin pie. The cocktail’s bold dark-roasted coffee notes provide the perfect contrast to sweet flavor profiles, enhancing them in a way that a sweet drink just can’t achieve. When paired with pumpkin pie, specifically, this match is reminiscent of a pumpkin spice latte.
Tips for a Mouthwatering Cocktail-Pairing Experience
Knowing what you’re going to serve is an important first step, but you’ll also have to ensure that the cocktails you serve are well-balanced and made from quality ingredients in order to create the best experience. Here are some important steps for serving delicious drinks.
Select Best-in-Class Canned Cocktails for Bar-Quality Flavor
Cocktail pairing is all about balancing delicate flavors and ensuring nothing is overpowering. Serving a poorly mixed drink can unfortunately have a negative impact on the way your meal tastes. The safest course of action is to choose an award-winning ready-to-drink cocktail.
Related: What is the Best Canned Cocktail?
This convenient option isn’t only about saving time—it’s about delivering perfect bar-quality flavor. Leading canned cocktail companies follow the correct cocktail recipes, with no filler ingredients, for a full-strength, professionally blended drink.
Ensure Your Cocktails are Perfectly Proportioned
Cocktail flavor balance depends on including the right amount of each ingredient. If you pour inaccurately, your drink can easily end up being too sweet, sour, or weak. Remedy this by investing in professional cocktail mixing tools and practicing using them.
If you’re using canned cocktails, read the recipe to ensure you’re receiving a full-strength product. The most reputable ready-to-drink cocktail brands will have the recipe for each drink clearly printed so you’ll be certain of what you’re getting.
Don’t Skimp on Quality Ingredients
Ingredients are the backbone of flavor for any type of food or beverage and during the holidays, you deserve to celebrate with the best. Unfortunately, you simply can’t select cheap liquor, lime-flavored citric acid, or preservative-laden ingredients and expect to create a great-tasting drink. If you don’t want to add a bunch of cocktail ingredients to your holiday grocery list, you can always source a quality canned cocktail brand instead.
These days, canned cocktails use the same delicious ingredients you’d find at your local bar and can even be created with special canning processes that preserve the fresh flavors. Look for barrel-aged whiskey, real cold brew coffee from arabica beans, award-winning bitters, and other premium spirits.
Serve What You Like
The most important tip to remember is the simplest one: You can never go wrong by serving what you love. Of course, you can still research the science behind flavor pairings and bring creative new cocktail options to your holiday table. It’s always fun to learn and try new things. But there’s nothing wrong with simply serving the cocktails you and your family enjoy drinking the most.
While your dinner is in its final stages of preparation, you can always bring out trays of cheeses and salted nuts as an appetizer and serve them any cocktail you’d like. Cocktails are a natural drink choice to complement small snacks like these and will create a fun, celebratory atmosphere your family will enjoy remembering for years to come.
Ready-to-Drink Cocktails: A Time-Saving Way to Serve Authentic Flavor
If you’re eager to add new drinks to your Thanksgiving day traditions but want to be sure you nail the right flavor, serving a ready-to-drink cocktail can save you a lot of time and stress. Thanksgiving is arguably the most food-centric holiday, and there is always a lot of work to be done in the kitchen. If you’re not looking forward to adding another recipe to your existing to-do list, you’re certainly not alone.
Today’s canned cocktails deliver authentic bar flavor with almost zero effort required. You’ll be able to spend more time enjoying the day with your guests and eliminate the pressure of having to create another perfect menu item. What’s more, since a canned cocktail is created using the right amount of each ingredient, you can be certain that each drink you serve delivers a perfectly balanced flavor.
Bring Award-Winning Flavor to the Table This Thanksgiving with Canned Cocktails
Thanksgiving is the best holiday for enjoying an abundant feast and celebrating the joys of delicious flavors and good company. No Thanksgiving menu would be complete without the right beverages, and this is where cocktails come in. With their unique balance of fresh and bold flavors, the perfect cocktail can enhance all your holiday favorites, and create a more special and celebratory atmosphere while doing so.
If you’d like to ensure a memorable day while saving time and effort, a ready-to-drink cocktail is for you. With the award-winning beverages of Post Meridiem, you can serve unmatched quality with confidence. Our espresso martini even won Best in Class at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition! Our cocktails come in perfectly sized 100 ml cans and are crafted with only 100% real, simple ingredients. No compromise. Create your dream pairing this Thanksgiving with one of our bar-quality cocktails and ensure your celebrations give your guests one more thing to be grateful for.