5 Festive Beverages to Bring to Holiday Dinner That Aren’t Wine
From a chill cider to a cozy cordial.
Published Sep 20, 2018 5:15 PM
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When you’re traveling over the river and through the woods to get to your family’s home for the holidays (or just down the street to your friend’s apartment), you never want to arrive empty-handed. You might instinctually grab your go-to bottle of vino, but there are far more festive (and surprising!) beverages to try and—more important—impress your host with.
Not only do these options make it easier to get through the holidays without a hangover (they’re all low- or no-alcohol!), they also pair with pretty much anything that’s being served, whether you’re tucking into a multicourse meal or just showing up for appetizers. Be sure to pick up a couple bottles—you’re going to want to hold onto some for yourself, too.
For Hors d’oeuvres Hour
Tastes like:Orange, juniper, and clove.
Works best with: Antipasti, pigs in a blanket, and everything in between, says founder Jason LaValla. Light and acidic, this sparkling amaro soft drink has all the same pairing powers as a sparkling wine, so it goes with savory food well. Inspired by Campari (a typical predinner drink in Italy), the flavor is pretty much made for cocktail hour.
For an Expansive Cheese Plate
Tastes like: A spiked cider, with lots of acidity and an earthy backbone.
Works best with: The stinkiest cheeses—as Fable cofounder Jon Piana explains, the tartness and complexity of this beverage helps it hold its own against them (but it’s light enough that it won’t overpower your palette). Apples and cheese are always a winning combination, so just think of this cider as the grown-up complement to your most elaborate predinner platter.
For a Classic Turkey Dinner
Tastes like: Star anise, clove, and cinnamon.
Works best with: Savory dishes. According to chef Joshua Lanning, they’ll bring out the spicy flavors of this aperitif, which is slightly evocative of whiskey. Think: glazed ham, smoked turkey, and bread pudding or stuffing made with a dark, nutty bread.
For a Friendsgiving Potluck
Tastes like: Herbaceous bitters—but it changes depending on how you cocktail it.
Works best with: Herby fish and tahini-drizzled vegetables, founder Jen Batchelor’s favorite things to serve with a wintry Kin Pomme (pomegranate soda, lemon juice, ginger syrup, bitters, and a sprig of rosemary). This nonalcoholic euphoric (a drink containing relaxing herbs) can be used the same way as gin or any other spirit, so it’s a great option for a meal where anything goes.
Tastes like: Sweet yet tart in-season Oregon cranberries.
Works best with: Pies—chef and owner Andy Ricker says the dry, tannic flavor of this cordial is well suited to their sweetness. There’s a reason why cranberry sauce is a must at Thanksgiving—its tartness is much needed to cut through all the richness on the table.
See more drink ideas: 5 Realistic Tips to Get Through the Holiday Season Without a Hangover This Is Hands Down the Easiest Drink to Make for the Holidays 6 Big-Batch Cocktails That Will Do the Bartending for You