Recipes | 11.16.2023

Thanksgiving Cocktails You Can Batch

A group of friends enjoying Thanksgiving cocktails.

By Franki Hanke

When you’re actively cooking, it’s hard to peel yourself away to play bartender. Instead, batch-make Thanksgiving cocktails that will impress everyone and save you valuable time. 

The secret to saving time when making these cocktail recipes is we’re relying on flavorful simple syrups that bring flavor and sweetness without making anything yourself. Plus, these syrups are made to extract the most flavor from their ingredients without labor-intensive tasks like muddling so your big batch doesn’t take extra work. Some of these require a bit more intervention than others, so find the best Thanksgiving cocktails for your tastes and time! 

You won’t find a margarita on this list! These cocktails all mirror the flavors of the season with warming spices, seasonal fruits, and familiar combinations that match the Thanksgiving side dishes and pumpkin pie on your table. You won’t find any heavy cream either (sorry White Russian, fans) but these are designed to sip alongside food, so they avoid being too heavy. 

8 Thanksgiving Cocktails You Can Batch Make

Don’t stress out this Thanksgiving (or Christmas) with these easy cocktails that you can prep ahead of appetizers! 

Slow Cooker Mulled Wine

If your guests arrive early for Thanksgiving dinner or linger long after Thanksgiving desserts, a warmed drink that’s ready to serve all day long is perfect. This recipe combines Portland Syrup’s Spiced Cranberry syrup with red wine for a warm, fall cocktail that’s perfect for cranberry sauce fanatics. 

You’ll need: 

  • Portland Syrups Spiced Cranberry Syrup
  • Merlot or Pinot Noir Wine
  • Cinnamon Sticks & Whole Star Anise (Optional)

To make:

Using the ratio of one ounce of syrup for each five ounces of wine*, combine all ingredients in a slow cooker. Set to Warm. The longer they are left, the more the whole spices will add additional flavor. For a bit more flavor, you can add a bit of Cointreau into this for a hint of orange. 

*When shopping, buy one bottle of syrup for each two bottles (750mL) of wine. 

How to Garnish

This recipe works wonderfully as a self-serve station, but if you’d like to elevate the drink by dishing it to guests individually, prep some garnishes the day ahead with drink stirrers with candied cranberries skewered on each. Learn how to make sugared cranberries from Rachel Cooks

Shop this Recipe: Spiced Cranberry Syrup | Merlot Wine (via Whole Foods Market) | Cinnamon Sticks | Stainless Steel Cocktail Picks

Recipe adapted from Portland Syrups

Wintery Sangria 

If you’d prefer a cold wine-based drink, make a sangria adjusted to reflect the season. 

You’ll need: 

  • Red Wine (bottle)
  • Orange Juice
  • Brandy
  • White or Brown Sugar or Spiced Simple Syrup
  • Fruits (Oranges, Apples, Cranberries, Pomegranate) 
  • Cinnamon Sticks

To make: 

Combine 750mL of red wine with ¾ cup orange juice, ½ cup brandy, and ¼ cup sugar or syrup. Using plain sugar will yield a classic sangria, and the spiced syrup will import more flavor quickly. Then, stir in your selection of fruit cut into bite-sized or smaller pieces. Prepare it the night before to let flavors meld together. 

Turn this sangria into a spritz with a carbonated mixer or sparkling wine addition at serving. 

Shop this Recipe: Cinnamon Sticks | Spiced Simple Syrup

Hibiscus Cardamon Juniper G&T (Mocktail Friendly) 

Some cocktails adapt to mocktails better than others if they have a good quantity of mixer. This drink could easily be batched sans alcohol with shots added by each person to their personal preference. 

You’ll need: 

  • Portland Syrups Hibiscus-Cardamon Syrup
  • Gin (Omit for Alcohol-Free or Swap for Gin-Alternative)
  • Mediterranean Tonic Water

To make:

Combine about one ounce of syrup with two ounces of gin or an alternative and top off glass with tonic water. When you’re mixing a true mocktail with no alcohol, you’ll use one to two ounces of syrup in one single-serve bottle depending on your preference for sweetness. 

To serve this as a mocktail option, you can use a zero-proof gin like Ritual’s to provide the flavor profile of a gin and tonic without alcohol though this drink works by omiting the gin entirely too. 

If you’re serving a Thanksgiving day brunch, you can twist this recipe into a spin on a French 75 with Champagne, Prosecco, or other sparkling wine rather than tonic water and lemon juice as needed to brighten it up. It’s a bit more seasonal than a mimosa, yeah? 

How to Garnish

Since this uses a bubbly mixer, you’ll want to batch-make these shortly before serving to avoid a flat batch. In a clear pitcher, to showcase the stunning color, mix up the drink to your preference either using the pitcher for the gin-free base or with the alcohol included. Then, if you’re serving to guests individually, fill the glass with ice and garnish with dried hibiscus flowers atop their drink. 

Shop this Recipe: Hibiscus-Cardamon Syrup | Zero-Proof Gin | Tonic Water | Pitcher | Garnish

Figgy Mule (Mocktail-Friendly) 

Twist the classic Moscow Mule with this mocktail-friendly drink. 

You’ll need:

  • Liber & Co Carmelized Fig Syrup
  • Dark Rum / Rum-Alternative (Optional)
  • Ginger Beer
  • Fresh Lime Juice

To make: 

Combine eight (8) ounces of rum or alternative, four (4) ounces of syrup, two (2) ounces of lime juice, and about 12 ounces of ginger beer (adjust more or less mixer to taste). You may add a few dashes of bitters if you’d like. Freshly squeezed lime has the best flavor for cocktails, but I’ve provided a bartender-approved alternative too. 

If you’d prefer a lighter version of this drink, you can swap the rum for gin instead! 

How to Garnish

Pierce a piece of garlic and dried figs each twice onto a cocktail pick and lean against the inner edge of each glass when serving. These garnishes are fun as they are both fun to eat once they’ve softened in the drink! 

Shop this Recipe: Fig Syrup | Ginger Beer | Seedlip Spice (Rum Alternative) | Lime Juice | Ginger Garnish | Fig Garnish | Stainless Steel Cocktail Picks

Maple Cranberry Smash

Meld all the iconic flavors of the season into a sweetened Bourbon cocktail for after-dinner sipping. This is perfect if your guests tend to order old-fashioned or Manhattan. It’s like an adult twist on the caramel apple. 

You’ll need: 

  • Bourbon (or Rye Whiskey) 
  • Lemon Juice
  • Apple Juice or Apple Cider
  • Pure Maple Syrup
  • Hipstirs Cranberry Pie Syrup

To make: 

Combine twelve (12) ounces of Bourbon, 4.5 ounces of lemon juice, three (3) ounces of apple juice or cider, two (2) tablespoons of pure maple syrup, and three (3) ounces of syrup. Serve over ice in rocks glasses. Bitters could be added for a more classic Bourbon cocktail. 

How to Garnish

Fill a rocks glass with ice before pouring the drink. Garnish with a candied lemon twist laid across the ice. If you want to be extra, freeze large ice cubes in a circular mold to slow their melting in this drink. 

Shop this Recipe: Cranberry Pie Syrup | Maple Syrup | Lemon Garnish

Spicy Ginger Negroni

For fans of classic cocktails, this negroni is a wintery spin that warms you from the inside out with spicy ginger syrup. It’s liquor-heavy, but has no fizz so it’s perfect to batch mix and leave ready to pour. 

You’ll need:

  • Portland Syrups Spicy Ginger Syrup
  • Gin
  • Sweet Red Vermouth
  • Campari

To make:

Combine five (5) ounces of spicy ginger syrup, ten ounces of gin, five (5) ounces of Sweet Vermouth, and five (5) ounces of Campari. If you’d like a bit more sweetness or have it on hand, you can swap Campari for Aperol here. 

How to Garnish

Serve over ice in a rocks glass and garnish with a piece of candied ginger. Enjoy alongside a slice of apple pie. 

Shop this Recipe: Spicy Ginger Syrup | Sweet Red Vermouth (via Whole Foods Market) | Ginger Garnish

Recipe from Portland Syrups

Sparkling Cranberry Punch

For a crowd-pleasing punch, fit for kids if you omit the alcohol completely, this is the perfect, seasonal recipe. This takes a simple base of mixers with a complexly spiced syrup of cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves, black pepper, and vanilla for a seasonal flavor. 

You’ll need:

  • Cranberry Juice
  • Vodka (Optional)
  • Ginger Beer (or Ale) 
  • Lemonade
  • Shaker & Spoon Demerara Syrup 

To make:

Combine four (4) cups cranberry juice, two (2) cups vodka (if using), two (2) cups lemonade, two (2) cups ginger beer or ale, and ten ounces of syrup. Taste and add more syrup if you want more sweetness. If you want the drink to remain fizzy, prep closer to serving. 

If you’re not a fan of cranberry, I’m sorry! You’re suffering the fall flavor raffle! In this recipe, swap cranberry juice for pomegranate juice to your preference. 

How to Garnish

This drink is exceedingly simple and perfect for serving in a punch bowl or simple pitcher. If you’d like to garnish, skewer cranberries (fresh or candied) onto drink picks. 

Shop this Recipe: Demerara Syrup | Cranberry Juice | Ginger Beer | Stainless Steel Cocktail Picks | Lemonade 

Tequila-Based Hot Toddy

The classic Hot Toddy combines hot water, lemon, honey, and whiskey (bourbon or brandy). However, this simple concept can be adjusted in a variety of ways for a wonderful post-dinner drink. It’s even better than hot chocolate if you often go outside post-meal to warm back up. 

A bit like adding a solace of amaretto liqueur, using a vanilla-almond simple syrup brings a gourmand sweetness with a different flavor profile than honey’s floral notes. Batch make and serve hot into mugs. 

You’ll need: 

  • Sonoma Syrup Co Vanilla Almond Syrup (Orgeat) 
  • Tequila 
  • Hot Water
  • Lemon Juice

To make: 

Combine eight (8) ounces of tequila, 12 ounces of hot water, six (6) ounces of lemon juice, and four (4) ounces of syrup. Taste and add more syrup to your desired sweetness level. 

Shop this Recipe: Sonoma Vanilla Almond Syrup | Lemon Juice 

Recipe adapted from Patron Tequila

Extra Advice

Serving Batched Cocktails

When you’re batching these Thanksgiving cocktail recipes, you can either create self-service stations or use the batch to streamline your drink-making. 

If you’re creating a self-serve station, create labels or signs for each option that include all ingredients so people can select options. Use pitchers or carafes. If you want people to adorn their drinks, leave out simple garnishes in a way that’s grabbable like even a sprig of rosemary or pre-skewered picks. 

Alternative Drinks for Non-Drinkers

When you’re shaving off minutes batch-making cocktails, it’s tempting to skip on including another option for folks who don’t drink, but as someone who picks and chooses when they partake, I always push for the inclusion of alcohol-free options. 

An alternative to alcoholic Thanksgiving cocktails is Ghia's botanical drinks.

To take the pressure off, buy unique, canned botanical aperitifs for your non-alcoholic option from Ghia. These four unique flavors come in a convenient combo pack and were Esquire’s Drink of the Year Award winner! For more flavors, try Avec’s botanical drinks too! 

Buy Ghia | Buy Avec

I hope you’re found your signature Thanksgiving drink on this list of festive cocktails. After all, Turkey Day’s drinks are a Thanksgiving side of their own kind! 

We’re bringing all the hosting advice this holiday season, so keep reading if you need advice for effortless Thanksgiving hosting or hostess gifts

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