In my family, drinks are an essential part of any family gathering. I love a good sparkling apple cider mocktail, don't get me wrong. But it's really all about that bottle of white or sparkling wine that goes well with the appetizers, or that pinot noir that pairs perfectly with the turkey. A pre-dinner cocktail delights the senses while a post-dinner aperitif helps with digestion. A batch of fruity sangria couldn't hurt, and local craft beer is always around, ready to share its unique, regional spin with out-of-town guests. Anything could really be a Thanksgiving drink. So, if I'm spending so much time trying to figure out what to drink on Thanksgiving, does that mean Thanksgiving is a drinking holiday?
Move aside pumpkin spice lattes and chai tea, there are other fall drinks we want with our Thanksgiving desserts. We want to enjoy that pecan pie with a fall cocktail, or unwind after the meal with a hot toddy or spiked hot chocolate. Some families make a batch of mulled wine full of fall flavors like maple syrup and star anise, with a garnish of cinnamon sticks. If you live somewhere warm year-round, you might prefer some tequila in a margarita or a glass of bubbly Prosecco to cheers all you have to be thankful for.
Whether you want a fizzy brunch mimosa, a caramel apple cocktail or a glass of wine this holiday season, the answer is yes, Thanksgiving is a drinking holiday! Drizly, an online alcohol e-commerce site, conducted a survey of their users in cities all over the United States to find out what American families are drinking with Thanksgiving dinner. The results might surprise you.
What type of booze do we choose?
Wine is overwhelmingly the drink of choice to accompany the Thanksgiving feast. 63 percent of respondents stick to wine, with more than half of them serving red wine with dinner. Only 10 percent serve white wine, while the remaining 19 percent drink beer and the last 10 percent enjoy spirits.
Why do only 10% enjoy spirits? Wine is the classic choice, and craft beer has been up-and-coming for years. As craft distilleries are on the rise, we may see that 10 percent creep up in the future. Then we can focus on more Thanksgiving cocktail recipes! I think a big-batch of classic cocktails like fresh apple cider with dark rum or spiked cranberry punch make the best Thanksgiving cocktails, but I also wouldn't turn down an old-fashioned with Wild Turkey, a Moscow mule or a white Russian, either.
How early is too early to start drinking?
You can throw out the 5 o'clock rule on this drinking holiday. One in four people starts drinking as early as when the turkey goes in the oven. We know from our ultimate guide to roasting a turkey that it takes 13 minutes a pound for a turkey to cook. So that means that, if it takes 4 hours to roast a 20-pound turkey and you're eating at 3:00 p.m., you can start drinking at 10 a.m.!
While some do start that early, the majority of Thanksgiving drinkers (around 47 percent) take their first sip when they finish prepping. Talk about a good way to reward yourself for a day of hard work! The remaining 23 percent wait patiently until the family starts to arrive.
What's the budget, and how many drinks do we have?
This isn't a drinking holiday where cheap, inexpensive shots are flying. Around 56 percent of respondents say they're willing to spend on quality booze - more than $50 is very common. Of the beer drinkers, 60 percent choose the more expensive (and better tasting) craft beer.
Even at that higher budget, most drinkers enjoy 3-5 drinks (58 percent) with a few keeping it tame at 1-2 drinks (12 percent). A small number of people (8 percent) admit that they go so out-of-control that they lose count. I hope they're drinking the low alcohol beer instead of high alcohol Thanksgiving beverages. Otherwise, they'll never remember how good your cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie are!
In the end, it may not be as much of a drinking holiday as St. Patrick Day or Cinco de Mayo, and perhaps that's because of our choice of company. About 65 percent of responders prefer to celebrate Thanksgiving with family, and only 35 percent opt for Friendsgiving with their pals. No matter if you're celebrating booze-filled or with mocktails and hot cider, don't forget to drink responsibly. Most importantly, make sure you're toasting to the chefs!
This post was originally published on November 30, 2017.