The Turning Leaf. Courtesy photo

The Best Thanksgiving Cocktails Using Local Spirits


The best way to enjoy a farm-to-table dinner is with a farm-to-glass cocktail. Colorado’s got its share of local craft distillers; the number has surpassed 50 and continues to grow. Boulder County is helping lead the way.

This fall while filling up on turkey at your Thanksgiving dinner or warming up by the fire pit afterward, try one of these fall drinks, recipes courtesy of local distilleries.

Local tip: If you’re looking for an activity centered around Colorado’s distilleries, consider a tour along the Colorado Spirits Trail.

Hot Gin Toddy Cocktail
The Hot Gin Toddy. Courtesy photo

The Hot Gin Toddy

1 ounce of Juniper Green Organic London Dry Gin from Altitude Spirits

3/4 ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon organic honey

2 ounces of water

Cinnamon stick

Twist of lemon peel

Pour gin in a wine goblet or teacup. Add lemon juice, a honey and two ounces of boiling water. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and a twist of lemon peel.

Ginger Rodgers Cocktail
The Ginger Rodgers. Courtesy photo

Ginger Rodgers

1 ½ ounces Boulder Gin from Vapor Distillery

1 ounce lemon juice

1 ounce ginger simple syrup

1 dash of bitters

Ginger beer

Lemon slice (garnish)

Combine all ingredients in a highball glass, add ice and top with ginger beer. Garnish with a lemon slice.

Cowboy Coffee Cocktail
Cowboy Coffee. Courtesy photo

Cowboy Coffee

1 ounce Arrosta coffee liqueur

1 ounce Boulder Ginskey barrel-aged gin

Mint sprig (garnish)

Combine ingredients in an ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with a mint sprig.

Beet Down

½ scoop of ice

¼ ounce of tarragon-infused honey

½ ounce of ginger syrup

1 ½ ounce beet-infused Sno Gin from JL Distilling

¾ ounce lemon juice

Add ingredients to shaker. After shaking, strain into a martini glass with one large ice cube. Garnish with a tarragon sprig.

Gingerbread Man

½ scoop ice

½ ounce Sno Vodka from JL Distilling

1 ounce FRY Liqueur

½ teaspoon of freshly grated ginger

Dash of half and half

Shake ingredients vigorously. Double strain and pour into a martini glass with a large ice cube.

The Turning Leaf Cocktail
The Turning Leaf. Courtesy photo

The Turning Leaf

Highball glass filled with ice cubes

2 ounces Papagayo Spiced Rum from Altitude Spirits

4 ounces of organic apricot nectar

Squeeze of fresh lime

Mix and stir. Grind fresh allspice on top. Garnish with a wedge of lime and a whole cinnamon stick swizzle.

Cranberry Jubilation Cocktail
The Cranberry Jubilation. Courtesy photo

The Cranberry Jubilation

Courtesy of mixologist Stan Usinowicz.

1 ounce cranberries

4 ounces unfiltered apple cider

Dash of cinnamon

Splash of lemon juice

Splash of orgeat syrup

2.5 ounces of Vodka 14 from Altitude Spirits

1 ounce of coconut water

Cranberries for garnish

This cocktail requires some preparation, but the results are well worth it. Start with an ounce of fresh cranberries in a saucepan. Add apple cider and a dash of cinnamon.

Simmer over medium heat, stirring throughout, until the cranberries split and soften. Remove from heat and allow to cool. When ready to serve, mix 1.5 ounces of the cranberry reduction, a splash of lemon juice, a splash of orgeat syrup and 2.5 ounces of Vodka 14 in a shaker. Shake over ice, strain into a martini glass and add 1 ounce of coconut water, stirring gently. Garnish with a skewered cranberries.

This recipe can be scaled up as needed and can be prepared in large batches and refrigerated.

Spiced Apple Harvest Cocktail
Spiced Apple Harvest. Courtesy photo

The Spiced Apple Harvest

Courtesy of Mac Thurston at Mac’s Beer & Wine in Atlanta.

1.5 ounces of Papagayo Spiced Rum from Altitude Spirits

2 ounces fresh apple cider

2 dashes of Fee Brothers Peach Bitters

Pinch of ground nutmeg

Start with the spice rum in a mixer. Add apple cider, peach bitters and nutmeg. Shake over ice and serve on the rocks in a lowball glass.

Pinyon's Cocktail 16 Cocktail
Pinyon’s Cocktail 16. Courtesy photo

The Pinyon’s Cocktail 16

Courtesy of the master mixologists at The Pinyon.

Handful of Cardamom

6 ounces of Two Jokers Double-Wit beer from the Boulevard Brewing Co.

1 ½ ounce Vodka 14 from Altitude Spirits

Fresh-squeezed lemon juice

¼ ounce organic simple syrup

Lemon wedge

Start by placing a handful of cardamom in a small saucepan and boil until you create a concentrated liquid reduction. Strain and allow to cool. When ready to serve, pour the beer into a wine glass and combine that with the vodka, a quarter ounce of the cardamom reduction, the juice of a quarter lemon and the organic simple syrup. Stir gently. Garnish with a lemon wedge.

Clementine and Spice-Infused Scotch Cocktail
Clementine and Spice-Infused Scotch. Courtesy photo

Clementine and Spice-Infused Scotch

Courtesy of Sarah at

750 ml of  Highland Harvest Organic Scotch from Altitude Spirits

4 clementines

1 cinnamon stick

6 whole cloves

Start with Highland Harvest in a sealable glass container, such as a mason jar. Add four clementines, sliced, one cinnamon stick and six whole cloves per 750 ml of Scotch (the recipe may be scaled up or down). Seal the container and steep at room temperature for approximately five days, to taste. Strain through a cheesecloth to separate the Scotch from the infusion ingredients and discard the solids. Serve neat or with chips of ice.

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