A Citrusy Bourbon Cocktail to Serve & Sip on Thanksgiving

All you need are three ingredients, starting with Basil Hayden's® bourbon.

November 21, 2020

We've partnered with Basil Hayden's®—makers of smooth, spicy-sweet Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey that's perfect for mixing into cocktails or drinking neat—to celebrate special moments with friends and family. Throughout the season, we'll be highlighting delicious ideas for enjoying bourbon with your closest loved ones at small, intimate gatherings, from low-key backyard hangouts to special holiday dinners.

Here, we're sharing the cocktail our Resident Bartender Elliott Clark will be serving up to his closest pals this Thanksgiving: a perfectly balanced bourbon sipper, starring Basil Hayden's and hints of citrus.

When planning Thanksgiving, everyone has that one dish they put more care and attention into than the rest. For some, it's a glistening roast turkey; for others, it's all about the pie (flaky golden crust and silky filling not optional). As for me, I tend to focus on what we'll all be sipping in the moments leading up to carving the bird—and throughout the rest of the evening.

Turns out, our Resident Bartender Elliott Clark is the same way.

"Every year my closest friends and I do a Friendsgiving potluck," he says, "and naturally, I'm always on drinks duty. For special get-togethers like this, I usually create drinks in courses, kind of like how you'd approach the food."

It'll just be a tight-knit group gathering safely this year, he adds, but as always, there'll be a special cocktail to kick things off: the Golden Hour. In this cocktail, a well-balanced bourbon like Basil Hayden's shines, and is complemented by subtle notes of citrus and herbal character from the other ingredients.

Smooth, palate-pleasing Basil Hayden's bourbon, plus aromatized wine and a lightly bitter aperitif, make a highly sippable cocktail combo for the holidays. Photo by Elliott Clark

"Cocktails basically fall into one of two categories: shaken or stirred," Elliott says. "During the holidays, I tend to gravitate towards spirit-forward cocktails like the Golden Hour. It’s simple, elegant, and easy to make for all levels of bourbon drinkers."

Basil Hayden's smooth style, soft vanilla spice, and dried fruit aromas are rounded out by the only two other elements you'll need to pull off this recipe for your own Thanksgiving (or Friendsgiving): a bittersweet Italian aperitif, such as Aperol, and a French aromatized wine with sweet fruit and floral notes, like Lillet Blanc. A long piece of grapefruit zest adds an extra pop of citrus, not to mention a little bit of flair that makes the drink feel occasion-worthy.

“The ingredients are really accessible, so it couldn’t be easier to make," Elliott explains. "It’s as simple as stirring everything together over ice and straining that mixture into a rocks glass. I like to serve it with one big cube, but you can also serve it in a chilled coupe glass without ice."

And when Thanksgiving dinner's said and done? "I'll serve a splash of Basil Hayden's neat or on the rocks," Elliott says. "It's the perfect nightcap."

What cocktails will you be sipping this Thanksgiving? Tell us in the comments!

We've teamed up with Basil Hayden's—makers of artfully aged whiskeys, like smooth Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey and a more complex, ruby-hued Dark Rye—to highlight our favorite ways to share whiskey with close friends and family all year long. Think: creative recipes for serving up at small gatherings, cocktail-making tips for elevating your homemade sips, our favorite tools for stocking your bar cart, and more.

Drink Smart™. Basil Hayden's® Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 40% Alc./Vol. ©2020 Kentucky Springs Distilling Co., Clermont, KY

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Erin Alexander is the Brand Partnerships Editor at Food52, covering pop culture, travel, foods of the internet, and all things #sponsored. Formerly at Men’s Journal, Men’s Fitness, Us Weekly, and Hearst, she currently lives in New York City.


oncb November 23, 2020
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oncb November 23, 2020
strawbaby November 23, 2020
We love a Maple Leaf. Bourbon, lemon juice and maple syrup, shaken over ice and service with a sprig of thyme and a lemon zest curl. It's so so good.