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13 festive, seasonal cocktails to get you through Thanksgiving

In just a few days time, millions of Americans will gather with the ones they love (or even just occasionally tolerate) to celebrate Thanksgiving. I don't know about you, but for me this time of year is stressful.

In addition to making sure I pull off a flawless meal, Thanksgiving is the time of year when my grandmothers, aunts, cousins and almost anyone who has ever known me (it seems) thinks this is a good time to ask me questions like, "When are you finally getting married" and, of course, "Where are my great-grandbabies?" 

After answering these questions three or four times, I desperately need a cocktail. A little something to take the edge off and make intrusive questions, and the occasional passive aggressive comments, a lot easier to handle. It seemed incredibly selfish not to pass along one of my favorite holiday coping mechanisms, so I've rounded up 13 of Southern Kitchen's absolute best cocktails to help give you the extra juice you'll need to make it through your Thanksgiving meal. Classic Martini
Let's start this list off with a tried and true classic. A good martini is like an old friend you don't speak to every day but when you reunite, it's magic. This version is so balanced, at the first sip you'll wonder why the heck you don't drink these every day. (The answer? Hangovers.) You might want to make one of these right before your guests arrive. A little me-time spent sippin' never hurt no body. 
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Georgia Gin Cocktail
Georgians sure do love their peaches, and they love them even more when added to a boozy cocktail. Of course in November peaches are out of season, but that doesn't matter here. They'd simply water down your alcohol, and this time of year, you can't afford to let that happen. That's why peach schnapps is one of the main ingredients in this delicious beverage, along with a whole lot of gin. Since this recipe calls for orange juice, consider spoiling yourself and using a higher quality brand or, dare I suggest, squeeze it fresh. 
Get the recipeAin’t Wasting No More Time
Just like the name suggests, this is the drink to reach for when you need some liquid relief, pronto. Turkey is still frozen, mashed potatoes are lumpy and your mother-in-law can't stop nitpicking everything you do? Go on ahead and start making this bourbon-based drink, which features a delicious green cardamom simple syrup to make you feel extra fancy. 
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Absinthe Cocktail
For many years, the sale of absinthe was banned in the United States. Thankfully, in 2007 the powers that be realized the error of their ways and made buying this distinctive spirit legal. Along with a fairly aggressive marketing campaign, absinthe was reintroduced to the American market (after rigorous testing proved the liquor, which is made with wormwood, does not on its own present a health risk). While the absinthe available in the U.S. won't cause you to hallucinate, it is the drink you want to reach for should you need something that tastes like a combination of anise and tart lemon. You can whip this cocktail up in less than five minutes, which won't take you away from your cooking/hosting duties. 
Get the recipe Bourbon-Mint Strong Palmer 
This cocktail is really nothing more than a improvement on the classic Arnold Palmer. Bourbon, mint, black tea and simple syrup are combined to give you the taste of home. If you're feeling particularly generous, you can totally make this sipper in batch and share with whomever you'd like. Make sure to put aside a helping (or two) for yourself before everyone else digs in. 
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Bushel and Barrel Cocktail
The Bushel and Barrel is the kind of drink that helps prove just how savvy you are, not only in the kitchen but also behind the bar. You're going to need to plan ahead to make this cocktail, as it does call for a peach scrub, which you can probably find at any wine or liquor store worth its salt. In a cocktail mixing glass, combine the bourbon, shrub, demerara syrup and lemon juice. Fill with ice and stir until cold. Strain the drink into a highball glass filled with ice. Top with the soda water and garnish with the lemon wedge. Serve immediately, to yourself. 
Get the recipeClassic Old Fashioned Cocktail
It's not secret, I love whiskey. So what kind of person would I be if I didn't include the classic Old Fashioned in this list? This simple yet effective cocktail usually only has three ingredients: whiskey (either bourbon or rye), angostura bitters and sugar. In order to make sure you don't water down this strong drink, consider buying larger ice cube trays and freezing some in advance. A word to the wise: Keep an eye on how many you're throwing back. You wouldn't want to start being too honest at dinner this year. 
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The Gatling Gun Cocktail

A little fun fact here: The classic cocktail, the French 75, actually got its name from the World War I 75mm field gun, so in a similar fashion, Jerry Slater named his twist on the drink after the Gatling gun, a predecessor of the modern machine gun, which was invented by North Carolina native Dr. Richard Gatling. Instead of the expected gin, this beverage uses brandy and instead of sparkling wine or Champagne, hard apple cider brings the bubbly. Serve this beauty in a Champagne glass and make sure you toast yourself for another Thanksgiving survived. 
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Pamplemousse Paloma
If you're in the mood for something that's a little lighter but still packs a punch, you might want to consider making this sparkler. It does, however, make you put in a little bit of work. You're going to have to make a fresh ginger simple syrup, but the result is so worth it. To keep things on the more subtle side, this cocktail is topped off with sparkling water and garnished with a grapefruit wedge. 
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The Alchemist Cocktail
If nothing else, this cocktail is festive. Made with Scotch whisky, apple butter, allspice dram and sherry, this drink will certainly get you in the holiday spirit. 
Get the recipe The Puritan Cocktail
Is there a more appropriate drink to consume on Thanksgiving than one that harkens back to the earliest days of colonial America? Unlike its namesake, the Puritan cocktail is all about a good time. This cocktail usually calls for orange bitters, but using lemon thyme bitters brings a bit of an herbaceous, slightly savory edge that lets the gin shine and rounds out the sweetness of yellow Chartreuse.
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Want even more cocktails? Here you go:
Southern Kitchen's Punch
Rose Cordial
Texas Margarita
Tree Frog Cocktail
Vodka-Ginger Strong Palmer with Blackberries
Vesper-Style Mimosas

Photo (martini): ricardo / zone41.net (license)
Photo (Ain't Wastin' No More Time): Courtesy of Maypop
Photo (bourbon-mint strong palmer): Kate Williams
Photo (Old Fashioned): Ramona King
Photo (palomas): Ramona King
Photo (Puritan Cocktail): Beth McKibben

Author image

Ryan Shepard is the editor-in-chief at Southern Kitchen. Though originally from Los Angeles, she has lived in Atlanta since early 2017 and cannot imagine calling any other city home (except maybe New Orleans). Before joining Southern Kitchen's staff, Ryan worked on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on public policy issues. When she's not at work, she enjoys hunting down the best Mexican food in the city and drinking whiskey, obviously.