How To Make Jim Meehan's Cranberry Sauce Cocktail

What to sip while you're watching Thanksgiving football

For TT's Drinks Editor Jim Meehan, Thanksgiving isn't just about feasting. It's also about football-preferably watching it with whiskey and a cold beer in hand.

Meehan played with that idea for his Cranberry "Sauce" cocktail, but he didn't create a traditional Boilermaker (a.k.a. a shot of whiskey dropped into a brew). Instead, his more nuanced drink-made with macerated cranberries, Wild Turkey (naturally) and bitters-is meant to be sipped over ice alongside a seasonal ale such as Anchor's Christmas or Sierra Nevada Celebration.

"The drink is essentially an Old Fashioned, and a more mature take on a boilermaker," Meehan says. "The bitters have a bit of Thanksgiving flavor-nutmeg, cinnamon, baking spice."

If you'd like, you can drizzle the leftover macerated cranberries and their syrup over turkey or your holiday desserts. But regardless, we recommend having the cocktail ready for kickoff. After a few downs, you may wish to down another.

Recipe by Jim Meehan, Tasting Table Drinks Editor

Cranberry "Sauce"
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TT Drinks Editor Jim Meehan riffs on the traditional Boilermaker with his Cranberry "Sauce" cocktail, a more mature version that pairs perfectly with Thanksgiving football.
Prep Time
Cook Time
cocktail, plus leftover cranberry syrup
Total time: 15 minutes
  • For the Cranberry Simple Syrup
  • 2 cups simple syrup (1 part sugar to 1 part water, boiled until sugar dissolves)
  • One 8-ounce bag cranberries
  • For the Cocktail
  • 2 ounces rye whiskey such as Wild Turkey Rye
  • ½ ounce cranberry simple syrup
  • 2 dashes Abbott's Bitters
  • Ice
  • Orange twist, for garnish
  • American IPA such as Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale
  1. Make the cranberry simple syrup: Place the simple syrup in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the cranberries and cook just until a few cranberries begin to split. Remove from the heat and let the syrup cool. Makes about 4 cups. Make ahead: Cranberry simple syrup can be made up to 3 days ahead. Cover and chill until ready to use.
  2. Make the cocktail: Combine the whiskey, cranberry simple syrup and bitters in a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice and shake vigorously until chilled. Strain into a chilled rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with the orange twist and a few macerated cranberries from the syrup. Serve with the IPA.
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