What did the Pilgrims and their Native American hosts drink at the very first Thanksgiving dinner back in 1620? If it was anything other than water, it would probably have been the dregs of some beer they'd brought over in barrels from England; they wouldn't have had time to plant apples for cider, another favored tipple of the time, and though the Mayflower had been used in a previous life to transport wine from Bordeaux back to England, it's unlikely that there were any casks of claret or butts of malmsey on board.
Today in America we have access to a whole world of good things to drink - wine, beer, cider, endless spirits, limitless cocktails, and even soft drinks of many kinds, from everyday to artisanal. Let's not get into the soft stuff, though. It's Thanksgiving, and time to celebrate - and quite possibly to insulate ourselves from the prying siblings or sententious uncles at the table with the help of a jolt or two of good old ethyl alcohol in some delicious form or other.
But what kind of ethyl alcohol goes best with Thanksgiving dinner? That depends to some extent on the particulars of the menu, of course: Do you get all fancy and begin with oysters on the half shell, or are you more the chips and dip type? Is the turkey a simply roasted classic, or are you smoking it on the Weber or marinating it in Asian spices? Are there jalapeños in the cornbread stuffing, or do you favor chestnuts and sausage with your breadcrumbs?
Even more than what you're going to eat, though, what you'll want to drink depends on you. For some Turkey Day convives, a cool, crisp hard cider is just the thing. Others prefer craft beer, maybe one flavored with autumnal fruits or the inescapable "pumpkin spice."
And then, of course, there's wine, and plenty of it. Because turkey in its most common form is a reasonably unassertive food, perhaps enlivened by that spicy stuffing (or some earthy Brussels sprouts or tart cranberry relish) but also probably toned down with buttery mashed potatoes or sweet candied yams, it accepts a wide range of complementary vinous flavors. One favorite of many wine lovers is pinot noir. Others prefer something rich and white, or intensely Rhône-ish. Some like sparkling wine, and there's even a contingent that reaches for rosé.
Over the past several weeks we've tasted through scores of wines and beers and at least a dozen ciders to come up with some very tasty Thanksgiving choices, at a wide range of prices - 35 wines, 10 beers, five ciders. Note that beer and cider prices are given for standard four- or six-packs of 12-ounce bottles or cans unless otherwise noted, and that the prices of beer, cider, and wine may vary from state to state and even store to store.
Here, then, are 50 festive things to drink at Thanksgiving dinner.