With all the excitement of Thanksgiving with its turkey and dressing (or stuffing!), aromatic side dishes, and pumpkin desserts, it’s easy to forget to offer more than our usual meal beverages. Here are a few of our favorites you may want to try for your holiday gathering.

Spiced Hot Apple Cider
This is one of my most favorite fall beverages. Not only is this drink delicious, but your house will smell heavenly as it simmers on the stovetop. You also can add the ingredients to your slow cooker set to warm or low for a few hours. Simmer up a batch of this spiced apple cider and enjoy the fall season!

1/2 gallon apple cider
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
8 to 10 whole cloves
3 cinnamon sticks, broken into pieces
8 to 10 allspice berries or 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

In a large crockpot or 4-quart Dutch oven, combine apple cider, brown sugar and orange juice.

Add the spices to a piece of cheesecloth or a coffee filter, and tie with a bit of baker’s twine. Place spices into cider.

Cover and let simmer on low heat for 3 to 4 hours until cider is hot and fragrant.

To serve, ladle into mugs and garnish with a cinnamon stick and an apple slice.

Apple Cranberry Punch
This is an excellent alternative for the regular choices of beverages for your Thanksgiving meal. Freeze a little of the cranberry or apple juice in ice cube trays to keep the punch cold instead of watering it down with melting ice cubes.

64 oz. apple juice
24 oz. cranberry juice
16 oz. orange juice
2 liters ginger ale (use cranberry flavor if available)
1 apple, thinly sliced
Chill the juice and ginger ale beforehand. In a large punch bowl, combine the juices and gently stir until well mixed. Slowly pour in ginger ale.

Float apple slices in the punch.

Caramel Apple Sparklers
If you like caramel apples, you’ll fall in love with this bubbly version. This delicate, caramel-infused adult beverage definitely brings the essence of fall. This drink has the perfect balance of caramel, apple and bubbles. What a festive way to begin your holiday meal!

1 oz. caramel vodka
3 oz. apple cider
2 oz. sparkling wine / prosecco / champagne
Honey and coarse sugar for garnish

Dip the rim of a champagne flute into honey and then into coarse sugar to create a sparkling rim for your cocktail.

Then, add the caramel vodka and apple cider to the glass. Top with sparkling wine. (Thanks to www.berries.com for the recipe.)

Pecan Pie Martini
This is the perfect cocktail for Thanksgiving or anytime during the fall and holiday seasons. Very finely chop pecans and carefully rim the martini glass with a little honey. Gently coat the rim of the glass with the crushed pecans.

You’ll need:
1 1/2 oz. Pinnacle Pecan Pie Vodka
3 oz. amaretto
Honey and crushed pecans for garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add vodka and amaretto. Put the top on the shaker and shake to blend well. Strain into your prepared martini glass. Enjoy!

Laura Tolbert, also known as Fleur de Lolly, has been sharing recipes, table decor ideas and advice for fellow foodies and novices on her blog, fleurdelolly.blogspot.com, for more than eight years. She won the Duke’s Mayonnaise 100th Anniversary nationwide recipe contest for her Alabama White BBQ Sauce. You can contact her at facebook.com/fleurde.lolly.5, on Instagram, and at fleurdelolly@yahoo.com.