Thanksgiving is right around the corner, which means it’s time to start thinking about food, family, friends—and fall cocktails.

From work commitments to expensive flights, not everyone will make it home for the holidays. But everyone can celebrate the spirit of Thanksgiving in their own unique way. No matter where you are this November, considering throwing your own “Friendsgiving” celebration.

You make the turkey, and have friends bring their own specialty dish to share. All there’s left to do then is hang up some decorations and celebrate with the people you’re most grateful for this year.

To make your Friendsgiving celebration extra special consider serving some of these carefully-curated fall cocktail recipes, straight from the bartenders of some of DC’s most exciting restaurants:

Cranberry Margarita

Scarlet Oak’s bartender and cocktail creator Brian Schram shared his recipe for his Cranberry Margarita, which he describes as “beautiful, fresh, and vibrant…a perfect segue into fall!”

1.5 oz. Sauza Silver Tequila

1 oz. Cranberry Puree

.5 oz. Patron Citronage

.5 oz. Sour

½ of a fresh squeezed lime

Put all ingredients into a cocktail shaker and shake before pouring. Garnish with an orange rind for color and class.

Pumpkin Pisco Punch

According to the beverage menu at The Hamilton, this punch “will pump you up.” Get in the mood for fall with this delicious pumpkin punch, with just the right amount of spice.

2 oz. Pisco Porton Acholado

1 oz. Pumpkin puree

.5 oz. Simple Syrup

.25 oz. Ginger Juice, fresh pressed

Pinch of nutmeg and vanilla bean

Pour all ingredients into shaker and shake, shake, shake before pouring the drink into a rocks glass. Garnish with a pinch of nutmeg.

District Cider

No autumn celebration is complete without a refreshing glass of apple cider. Also from The Hamilton, this cider puts a new twist on the classic fall drink. The spiced sugar rim gives this cocktail an extra kick that will have all of your friends asking for more.

2 oz. Leopold’s Apple Whiskey

.25 oz. of Leopold’s Three Pins Alpine

1.5 oz. Cider

Sugar Rim:

3 tbsp. Turbinado sugar

1 tsp. Nutmeg

1 tsp. Cardamom

Zest of 1 lemon

Use a lemon and the Spiced Turbinado Sugar to rim only half of a rocks glass. Pour all ingredients into a shaker and shake it up, then pour drink into the half-rimmed rocks glass.

Spice Manhattan

Spice up your Friendsgiving with this perfect autumn-inspired Manhattan. Straight from the bar of Central Michel Richard, this unique cocktail will sure to be a hit at your celebration.

2 oz. Redemption Bourbon

.75 oz. Spiced Maple Syrup

.25 oz. Lucano Amaro

3 drops Regan’s Orange Bitters

3-4 Brandied Cherries

Spiced Maple Syrup:

1 cup Maple Syrup

1 cup Water

2 Cinnamon Sticks

6 Whole Peppercorns

2 Whole Star Anise

3 Whole Cloves

Pour all ingredients into a mixing glass filled with ice, stir for 30 seconds, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. For maple syrup, lightly toast spices for 2 minutes, add maple syrup and water, bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Let syrup cool and strain out spices. Garnish with brandied cherries or star anise.

Apple Mule

Bar Dupont has unofficially claimed the apple as the “fruit of fall,” so it’s no wonder that one of their best fall cocktails is the Apple Mule–a classic cocktail with a twist.

1.5 oz. Green Apple Smirnoff

1 oz. Apple Juice

1 oz. Cranberry Juice

1 oz. Ginger Beer

6 Cranberries

2 Lime Wedges

Muddle a few cranberries and lime wedge in the base of your preferred cocktail glass. Fill your glass with Smirnoff Green Apple, apple juice, cranberry juice, and ginger beer. Stir well and garnish with cranberries and lime wedge.

Pumpkin Delight

This recipe from BABA is the perfect dessert drink for pumpkin lovers. BABA describes it as a “light, creamy pumpkin libation with autumn spice notes.” What could be better to top off your Friendsgiving meal?

1 1/2 oz. Brandy

1 oz. Pumpkin Puree

1 1/2 oz. Spiced Coconut Milk

In a cocktail shaker mix all ingredients, fill with ice and shake for at least 7 seconds. Strain over ice in a brandy glass and garnish with crushed sweet potato chips and cinnamon sugar.


Photography by Joy Asico