The Best Friendsgiving Booze & Budget Strategy: Cheap Pitcher Drink (and BYOB Everything Else)

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Diana Yen)

Before we get too deep into our Thanksgiving strategy, we’ve got Friendsgiving on our minds. It’s a tradition for many that we can firmly get behind. Who doesn’t love an excuse to get together with friends and feast on turkey and all the fixings a little early? Equally as important as the food, however, is the drink. Yet, if you’re hosting, you’re likely too focused on ensuring the turkey cooks in time to worry about the drinks. Here’s the plan, then: Stir up something quick and cheap and leave your friends to help with the rest.

Embrace the Pitcher Cocktail

The key to serving booze that’s fuss-free and affordable at Friendsgiving (or any gathering, really) is to serve a pitcher cocktail. Not only does it prevent the host from constantly shaking up a drink or two every time a guest walks through the door, but you also only need a few ingredients to make a great one. Something as simple as sangria or a margarita with a seasonal twist is enough to please the crowd. Stir things up ahead of time and then let your friends help themselves as they settle in.

  • Make ahead: Most pitcher cocktails can be made ahead of time and actually get better with a few hours or even a night of resting in the fridge — the flavors mix and mingle while resting to create an even more delicious drink. That’s good news for you, as it means you can mix everything together the night before the gathering, stick the pitcher in the fridge, and it’ll be chilled and waiting when you need it.
  • Scale as needed: Our favorite pitcher cocktail recipes usually serve between six and eight people, but that shouldn’t limit you if you’re expecting even more friends. These recipes can easily be doubled or tripled to serve more — just make the drink in a punch bowl or beverage dispenser, or divide it among a few pitchers.
  • Mid-range bottles: There’s no need to splurge on expensive liquor and wine for pitcher cocktails. Since the alcohol is being mixed with things like simple syrup and fruit, something affordable but drinkable is the best way to go. If you need recommendations, here are some of our favorite budget liquors and wines. Oh, and if your recipe calls for bubbles? Definitely reach for wallet-friendly Cava.

5 Friendsgiving-Friendly Pitcher Cocktails

(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

Let Your Guests Bring the Rest

Take charge of the pitcher cocktail and then encourage your friends to bring a bottle of wine or some of their favorite beer. They’re going to ask what to bring anyway, and doing it this way not only takes the burden off the host to supply all the alcohol, but you’ll end up with a nice variety of drinks that will please everyone and will definitely keep the festivities going well into the night.