Easy Cocktails and Whiskey Pairings for Thanksgiving

Enjoy a Great Whiskey with Your Turkey Dinner

Stone Fence Cocktail
A simple and easy mix of bourbon and apple cider, the Stone Fence can be enjoyed year round. Photo Courtesy: Shannon Graham

No other spirit is quite as versatile, or pairs as well with food at Thanksgiving dinner as whiskey. Here are a few easy recommendations for whiskies to pair with your Thanksgiving repast and two easy cocktails to make for a crowd.

Before Sitting Down to Eat

When your guests arrive and begin socializing, offer them this easy bourbon cocktail. It complements a wide range of appetizers, from salted nuts, to cheeses and dips. It has a wonderful autumn flavor, and it is so easy to prepare that you won’t have to ignore the turkey while keeping your guests happy.

Stone Fence Cocktail

  1. In a double rocks glass. add the bourbon and bitters and fill with ice.
  2. Top with the apple cider, stir once with a spoon to incorporate the ingredients.

At the Dinner Table

Simplicity is the key with whiskies at Thanksgiving dinner. Almost all categories of whiskey pair well with the typical Thanksgiving fare.

Here are some whiskies that can be offered neat (or perhaps with some ice cubes or cool water) along with some of the foods they pair well with:

  • Booker’s Bourbon - At 130 proof, this classic American bourbon needs a bit of water to cool it down, but its notes of cinnamon and nutmeg pair well with everything from sweet potatoes to stuffing.
  • Gentleman Jack - Tennessee whiskey at its best, Gentleman Jack offers a soft palate of caramel and dried fruits with a whiff of smoke. This will pair well with turkey, cranberry sauce and squash dishes.
  • Templeton Rye - A subtly spicy rye, Templeton is exceptionally food friendly. Pair it with ham, turkey or any roasted dishes for best effect.
  • Glenlivet Nadurra Triumph 1991 - A smooth, fruit forward dram, this single malt scotch holds up well against heavier dishes with cream sauces, as well as complementing cheeses, nuts and turkey.

For an easy crowd-pleasing cocktail during the dinner hour, try a Cranberry Spritzer. This recipe can easily be increased to fit a pitcher or punch bowl.

Cranberry Spritzer

  1. In a collins glass, add whisky and cranberry juice.
  2. Add ice, fill with club soda and garnish with a lime wedge.

After Thanksgiving Dinner & Dessert

Whiskies are a perfect way to end your Thanksgiving holiday.

Try offering a selection of whiskies during dessert. Here are some classic whiskies that will pair well with dessert offerings.

  • Balcones Baby Blue - This Texas whisky is made from Hopi blue corn which gives it a flavor unlike any other whisky. Offer this to whiskey aficionados, pair it with a fruit and cheese plate or a pecan pie. Baby Blue can be hard to find, but it is worth the effort.
  • The Macallan 18 Year - An exceptional, mouth-coating single malt Scotch. Notes of fruitcake, dried apricots and sherried notes make this an exceptional pairing with cheeses, fruit-based desserts and pumpkin pie.​
  • Rittenhouse 25 Year Rye - The oldest rye whiskey ever produced by Rittenhouse, the 25 Year offering is a rye whiskey for sitting down, sipping and savoring. Wonderfully complex, keep desserts simple when pairing with this rye.
  • The Balvenie Madeira Cask 17 Year - Wonderfully nutty from being finished in used Madeira barrels, this single malt would pair beautifully with pecan pie or fruit-based desserts.
  • Laphroaig 18 Year - A complex, sophisticated and spicy single malt recently replaced Laphroaig’s 15-year-old offering. A perfect end of the evening whisky, this single malt can match well with anything from mincemeat pie to a good cigar.
  • W.L. Weller - The original wheated bourbon, Weller offers a softer mouthfeel with vanilla, honey and fruit notes predominant. Pair this with pumpkin or apple pie.