Jim Meehan’s Top Five Cocktails to Celebrate Thanksgiving (with Recipes!)


Let’s face it: Thanksgiving is not only the tastiest holiday, but also one of the booziest. Maybe you’re downing the cocktails because you don’t have work on Friday, or because you can’t bear the thought of actually having to go to work on Friday (Black Friday workers, we appreciate you), or because your mother-in-law is such a pain that you can’t handle her if you’re sober. Jim Meehan, mixologist extraordinaire and owner of New York City’s PDT, has just come out with the PDT Cocktail Book, featuring more than 300 classic and original cocktails served at the speakeasy. So we got in touch with Jim to know what tipples from the book he’d suggest alongside the turkey and stuffing this year. Serve all five and you’re in for a guaranteed good time!

Cranberry Cobbler: “I created this with Michael Madrusan and we’ve served it every year we’ve been open. The sherry cocktail was once a popular drink around the world. We added Beefeater Gin and muddled citrus and cranberries,” says Meehan, noting that it makes a great aperitif. “Cranberries are Thanksgiving, and the drink is pink!”

Recipe: Cranberry Cobbler

2 oz. Beefeater Gin
0.75 oz. Lustau East India Sherry
0.5 oz. Cranberry Syrup
7 macerated cranberries (reserve 3 for garnish)
1 orange wheel
1 lemon wedge

Add the citrus, cranberries, and syrup to a mixing glass and muddle. Add everything else, then shake with ice and strain into a rocks glass filled with pebble ice. Garnish with a mint sprig and 3 macerated cranberries.

Cranberry Simple Syrup & Macerated Cranberries
16 oz. of simple syrup
1 8-oz. bag of cranberries (frozen is fine)

Heat the simple syrup until it almost boils, then turn the heat down to medium and add in the cranberries. Once the skin of the first few cranberries splits, remove from the heat and allow to cool. Bottle a portion of the syrup and reserve the rest to store with the cranberries in the refrigerator.

Crimson Tide: Meehan enjoys putting a tropical or tiki drink on the menu at PDT each winter to remind imbibers of warmer times. This drink flavored with sorrel and hibiscus was created by Kevin Diedrich in 2009. “At that time, the Alabama Crimson Tide football team had won the championship, and when I think of Thanksgiving, I think of football,” says Meehan. But he doesn’t quite bleed red. “I’m a Badger, but they don’t make crimson drinks.”

Recipe: Crimson Tide

1.5 oz. Lemon Hart Overproof Rum
1.5 oz. spiced sorrel
0.75 oz. lime juice
0.5 oz. Canton Ginger Liqueur

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled Collins glass filled with ice. Top with 0.75 oz. club soda. Garnish with a lime wheel and a piece of candied ginger

Spiced Sorrel
20 oz. water
19.5 oz. (roughly 6-7 pieces) chopped ginger
4 oz. superfine sugar
4 oz. dried sorrel flowers
2 3-inch cinnamon sticks
0.2 oz. star anise pods
0.5 tsp. cloves

Combine everything in a pan and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Fine-strain, bottle, and store in the refrigerator.

Falling Leaves: “Audrey Saunders created the Falling Leaves cocktail at Bemelman’s Bar,” notes Meehan, who loves drinking Riesling wine in the winter. “It’s such a festive drink.” Its flavors work especially well with Thanksgiving fare, since pears are in season. “Once again, there’s not a bunch of booze in it, so it’s a good aperitif. It’s great for a diverse audience.”

Recipe: Falling Leaves

2 oz. Dr. Konstantin Frank Dry Riesling
1 oz. Clear Creek Pear Brandy
0.5 oz. Marie Brizard Orange Curaçao
0.25 oz. honey syrup
3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a star anise pod.

Great Pumpkin: “The Great Pumpkin is a flip made with pumpkin beer, and you gotta get some pumpkin in,” exclaims Meehan. “Put a flip on the menu in the winter when you want stick-to-your-ribs-to-keep-you-warm drinks.”

Recipe: Great Pumpkin

2 oz. Southampton Pumpkin Ale
1 oz. Rittenhouse Bonded Rye Whiskey
1 oz. Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy
0.5 oz. Deep Mountain Grade B Maple Syrup
1 whole egg

Add everything to a mixing glass and swirl to decarbonate beer. Dry-shake, then shake with ice and strain into a chilled fizz glass. Garnish with grated nutmeg.

There Will Be Blood: “It’s kind of a funny name,” says Meehan of this cocktail made with Godiva liqueur, bourbon, and blood orange juice. But there’s a good reason for serving it come Thanksgiving: “Not everyone has a family that gets along during the holidays.” This is for them.

Recipe: There Will Be Blood

2 oz. Old Grand-Dad Bonded Bourbon
0.75 oz. Godiva Original Liqueur
0.75 oz. Blood Orange Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a flamed orange twist.