What Chefs Drink on Thanksgiving

What Chefs Drink

Hey Chef, what's in your glass?


Ryan Poli of Tavernita in Chicago

Thanksgiving is one of the most important food events of the year. When else can you stuff yourself with your third helping while still dreaming of the sandwich you'll build from leftovers the next day? And we imagine that Thanksgiving at a chef's house is even more amazing. We were curious, though, about what chefs drink on Turkey Day—is it fancy Burgundy to pair with the bird? Or Miller High Life?

We asked chefs from around the country what they like to drink on Thanksgiving. Here's what they had to say...

"I have no idea, since I'm usually focused on cooking. Even though my mom says she just wants me to relax, somehow, someway, I always end up in the kitchen, and my mom and aunts in the living room drinking white wine! Oh well!!" —Ryan Poli (Tavernita)

"We will definitely have a bottle of bourbon at the ready and have started a tradition of drinking a bottle of Cade wine because it's all about family." —Erik Niel (Easy Bistro & Bar)

"For Thanksgiving, well, I will be working, so I will probably finish with a couple cold beers and a few Fernets..." —Ben Bettinger (Imperial)


The chefs of Animal in Los Angeles.

"I get eggnog season going early..." —Vinny Dotolo (Animal)

"A hot toddy." —Jon Shook (Animal)

"This year, hopefully the Bookers Bourbon I bought my dad last Christmas!" —Brian Zenner (Belly & Trumpet)

"A nice cold, crisp Riesling goes great with the holiday. Turkey is pretty amicable regardless, but Riesling plays well with many dishes, its quite versatile. What I look forward to drinking is a nice Kabinett Riesling from the Mosel."—Melissa Perello (Frances)

"Beer, wine, bourbon...but without a doubt, at least a cup of gravy, Thanksgiving is definitely a time to replenish my gravy levels." —Sean Temple (Paulee)


Greg Baker of The Refinery in Tampa [Photo: The Refinery]

"I'll probably treat my beer nerd uncle from Illinois to some of the rare, one-off brews from Cigar City Brewing." —Greg Baker (The Refinery)

"Negronis make any celebration more festive. When a long evening is in store, Nick [Balla] and I often create a lower ABV cocktail with the feel of a Negroni by infusing fino sherry with juniper, bay, coriander, mint, lemon balm, orange peel, and sage. Then the vermouth: Massican is a great choice this year with all the warming spice aromatics...it's very festive! We infuse roasted walnut in ours to create bitter, tannic aromas. Then we add orange blossom simple syrup for citrus and sweet notes, a few splashes of our kefir bitters, and we're drinking something with the aromas and qualities of a Negroni."—Cortney Burns (Bar Tartine)

"Beer and wine—but really anything my father in law wants to open. Maybe start with something lighter like a Pinot and progress to a Cab by the end of the evening." —Kevin Nashan (Sidney Street Cafe)

"At Thanksgiving, our family is trying to mix it up this year, and we are cooking Indian food, so we will probably lean towards beer or a Riesling. Something that will pair well with the spicy foods." —Chris Pandel (The Bristol, Balena)


Gabrielle Quinonez Denton of Ox in Portland

"If we stick to a traditional Thanksgiving celebration, we will most likely start with a nice sparkling rosé and then move onto some Cab Franc with the meal. If we go to our sous chef Cory's annual "Thugsgiving" instead, it'll probably be Alizé and forty ouncers of malt liquor." —Gabrielle Quinonez Denton (Ox)

"My winter sangria." —Eddy Thretipthuangsin (PakPao Thai)

"Champagne or Prosecco. They are just the best thing to drink when you are celebrating. It also helps relieve any family tension!" —Justin Miller (Pizzeria Ortica)

"Martinez. Classic." —Shaun Hergatt (Juni)


Richard Gras of Oak in Dallas

"This Thanksgiving I will be drinking 2006 Pahlmeyer Cabernet. It will be the first time I have had Thanksgiving off in 18 years, so I need to celebrate." —Richard Gras (Oak)

"There are a number of Greek wines that just seem to go well with everything, and during the holidays I like to give my family and friends the option of both red and white. A few of my favorites are Moschofilero Boutari and Assyrtiko Thalassitis for white, and Xinomavaro Boutari and Megapanos Agiorgitiko for red." —Michael Psilakis (Kefi, FishTag, MP Taverna)

"Gewurztraminer! And lots of it. That's my go-to Thanksgiving wine. I think it pairs best with the flavors of the traditional turkey-day feast." —Michael Armstrong (Dream Downtown)

"I like to break out the good stuff for Thanksgiving. This year, I'm already looking forward to a 2004 Clos du Vogout Grand Cru Burgundy. I am a sucker for Burgundy because of its complexity and pairing abilities. I love hunting for a great value. I was able to find a case of this at an affordable price, so I can share it with all 25 people coming to dinner." —Braden Wages (Malai Kitchen)


Harold Dieterle of Perilla, Kin Shop, and The Marrow in NYC

"Definitely an occasion I consider splurge-worthy, so lots of Barolo and red Burgundy." —Harold Dieterle (Perilla, Kin Shop, The Marrow)

"I usually have some beers. Back home, my family only buys Sam Adams Boston lager. I'll have some beers during the day socializing, and for Thanksgiving dinner, I always have a glass of crisp white wine—something light and acidic to help cut through the enormous amount of heavy and fatty foods I'm about to inhale until I cant move." —Peter Coenen (The Gage)

"I'll be drinking Rosé from Bandol for Thanksgiving. It's a wine that works really well with turkey." —Adam Leonti (Vetri Ristorante)


Hank Costello of Andina in Portland

"Beer! The holiday is all about comfort food, so I like to have a comfort drink. Strong, bold flavors to complement the heartiness of the food. To start off, maybe a nice light lager, like Guinness Harp. Moving on to an IPA, like Full Sail IPA, to get things really rolling. For the main course, a good Belgian-style beer, like New Belgum Abbey. For dessert, something smooth and robust, like Xingu black beer." —Hank Costello (Andina)

"Thanksgiving is an American holiday, and that's how I pour it. I'll start with Tony Soter's sparkling wine from Willamette Valley, followed by something rich, perhaps California Chardonnay from Brewer Clifton or Hanzell with lobster and butternut squash soup, then California Pinot noir, an old one from Jim Clendenen at Au Bon Climat in Santa Ynez." —Michael Kornick (DMK County Barbeque, DMK Burger Bar)

"At Thanksgiving, I drink whatever people bring over because we usually host. I always keep my fingers crossed for some good Scotch." —Gabe Rucker (Le Pigeon)

"Coquito with my wife and Puerto Rican in-laws." —Bill Kim (bellyQ)

More Thanksgiving Drinking Tips

The Best Beers for Thanksgiving
The Best Ciders for Thanksgiving
Cocktail Planning for Thanksgiving
Great Red Wines for Thanksgiving
Our Favorite White Wines for Thanksgiving
Sparkling Wine Picks