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Low Alcohol Cocktails for the Holiday Season

Thanksgiving is the perfect day to switch things up and opt for food-friendly cocktails that have low alcohol content. 

Thanksgiving is a day of gluttony; the holiday is centered on one giant meal, but it’s highly unlikely that one meal is all you will be eating. The worst-case scenario plate packs an average of 3,242 calories. From morning to night, the food marathon will rage on, making it hard to keep up on the drink end of things. If you go for the customary massive plate you might be too bloated or buzzed to actually enjoy your meal(s). The best thing to do is to pace yourself. That goes for food and drink.

Fall is a great season for cocktails. Flavors like apple, pumpkin, and cranberry as well as spices like clove, anise, and cinnamon find their way behind the bar into drinks like pumpkin martinis, sidecars, margaritas and more. Mulled wine is a seasonal favorite that can be prepared with a low-alcohol wine like Spain’s Txakoli or a Beaujolais or Bordeaux Rouge, which range from 9 to 11 percent alcohol as opposed to the 13 to 14 percent in a typical California chardonnay or merlot.

If you’re feeding a crowd, big-batching your cocktails will save you time. Recipes can easily be quadrupled and mixed in pitchers or bowls. Keep the punch chilled until ready to serve.

Shaken, stirred, mulled, or infused, here are some low-alcohol cocktails that are a delicious and fun way to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Sweet Potato Pie Martini

Turn the table’s favorite dessert into a cocktail courtesy of Skinnygirl Bare Naked Vodka. It’s always smart to serve a lighter cocktail during the holidays, when most people are feeling full from their heavy meals. Using Skinnygirl will do just that. The same purée used to make your pie is mixed with butterscotch schnapps for a crisp and creamy cocktail with hardly any calories.

  • 1 1/2 ounce Skinnygirl Bare Naked Vodka

  • 1 ounce sweet potato puree

  • 1/2 ounce DeKuyper Buttershots Butterscotch Schnapps

  • 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon

  • 1 dash of ginger ale

  • Orange slice for garnish

Mix ingredients in a shaker and pour into a chilled glass over ice. Garnish with an orange slice.

Mulled Apple Cider

Ingredients 1 quart apple cider 3 cinnamon sticks Knob of "bruised" fresh ginger 3 whole cloves pinch nutmeg 1 firm red apple (such as Rome, Braeburn, Fuji, or Royal Gala), cored, skin-on, and cut into small cubes 1 firm green apple (such as Granny Smith), washed, cored, skin-on, and cut into small cubes 2 lemons, juiced ¼ cup granulated sugar 1 bottle dry cava or other dry sparkling wine

Directions In a medium pot over medium heat, add the cider, cinnamon sticks, fresh ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. Stir to blend. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Reduce by half and taste for seasoning. Set aside to cool. In a large bowl add the apples, lemon juice, and sugar. Toss to coat and add to the cider. Refrigerate. When the cocktails are ready to serve, pour the cider and apple pieces into Champagne flutes (about halfway) and top with the cava. Stir and serve.

Ginger Mule

  • Concord grape juice, for ice cubes

  • 2 ounces vodka

  • 1/2 ounce ginger syrup

  • 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice

  • 2 ounces club soda

  • Garnish: concord grapes

  • Garnish: crystallized ginger

In advance: Fill an ice cube tray with Concord grape juice and place in the freezer for several hours until frozen.

Add the vodka, ginger syrup and lime juice into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake.

Strain into a rocks glass over Concord grape juice ice cubes.

Top with the club soda.

Garnish with Concord grapes and a piece of crystallized ginger.

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