If the past is any indication, I am going to drink way too much this Thanksgiving. During a long day of cooking, eating, and hanging out with relatives, it's easy to lose track of what glass of wine you're on. Every year I tell myself I'll be more responsible, but this year I'm going to made it happen for real by arming myself with a variety of delicious nonalcoholic options perfect for pairing with a long, heavy meal—think mulled cider, homemade fig soda, and a tart pumpkin shrub. If you're looking to cut back on the booze come Turkey Day, or if you don't drink alcohol at all, check out 11 of our favorite nonalcoholic Thanksgiving drink recipes.
Spiced Mulled Cider
Before I was old enough to drink, I started pretty much every Thanksgiving with a mug of mulled cider. My family generally made it with store-bought "mulling spices," and maybe a few cinnamon sticks if we were feeling fancy. This recipe goes a step further, flavoring high-quality local cider with whole cinnamon, clove, cardamom, coriander, and anise.
Mulled Cider Shrub
A slightly more refreshing way to drink your apples on Thanksgiving, this recipe combines mulled cider with apple cider vinegar to make an instant shrub. We love vinegar-based drinks on Thanksgiving because the acidity cuts through the rich food wonderfully. If you're not used to drinking vinegars then this is a good entry point, because as the shrub cooks the harsher side of the vinegar is mellowed out significantly.
Another easy, seasonal shrub, this one steeps sweet roasted pumpkin in vinegar with turbinado sugar, ginger, and cinnamon. You'll want to get started on Wednesday, because you need to let the squash sit overnight. You can mix the shrub with seltzer, but I prefer to use spicy ginger beer.
Fig and Balsamic Soda
This sophisticated soda is made with balsamic vinegar, seltzer, and a fig syrup made with dried and oven-roasted figs. The fruit is a little out of season right now, but roasting the figs means that you can use ones just slightly past their prime and still get good results.
Don't put the vinegar away quite yet—this recipe is made with rice wine vinegar that we infuse with cucumbers and mix with fresh Granny Smith apple juice, lime juice, and muddled shiso and mint. Like with any cocktail using fresh herbs, muddle gently so that they don't take on an unpleasant bitterness.
The Americano—a classic cocktail made with vermouth and Campari—isn't too boozy on its own, but if you want something even lighter then check out this two-ingredient mocktail made with pomegranate juice and Angostura bitters. Just a heads-up—bitters do have alcohol in them, so while this won't get you drunk, you'll want to avoid it if you totally abstain from drinking.
Sparkling Sumac Lemonade
When I'm done eating a big meal I want my drink to be light and effervescent, and this sparkling lemonade fits the bill perfectly. This isn't any old lemonade, though—sumac syrup gives it a gorgeous color and complex tartness.
Rose Hip Cordial
Rose hips are probably more familiar to our British readers than our American ones—regardless of whether or not you've used these floral berries before, you should give this cordial a try. You could use the cordial a variety of ways, but the simplest option is to mix it with sparkling water.
Orange, Rosewater, and Mint Sparkler
If you want to start Thanksgiving with a mimosa but think it's a good idea to hold off on popping open a bottle of wine, give this sparkling orange juice drink a try instead. The recipe is pretty simple—start with freshly squeezed orange juice and mix it with muddled mint leaves and rosewater.
Barbajada (Milanese Hot Chocolate-Coffee Drink)
If you aren't sensitive to a late hit of caffeine, then try this Italian coffee-hot chocolate hybrid. There's not much more to it than the description implies—make hot chocolate, mix in coffee, then whisk until frothy and serve with whipped cream.
Champurrado (Mexican Hot Chocolate and Corn Drink)
Atole—a hot Mexican drink made with masa harina (corn flour)—is one of my favorite cold-weather treats. We have recipes for versions made with peanuts and orange zest, but if I'm looking for a caffeine-free alternative to after-dinner coffee, I'm going with this chocolate variation called champurrado.