If you’re a guest at an upcoming festive fall dinner—be that in recognition of Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, Native Americans’ National Day of Mourning, or a general harvest feast—then you might be wondering what you can bring to the celebration. Oven and table space can be preciously limited at these gatherings, so your host might not appreciate you bringing your special-recipe green bean casserole, and showing up with your own pie is an easy way to bruise at least one pie-making relative’s ego.
Fortunately, no host will ever resent you for bringing an extra beverage. Consider the starch and salt content of the average Thanksgiving table, and the mixed beliefs and temperaments of the people sitting around it, and you can see why a refreshing, relaxing drink is just the thing to bring. And in the bounty of the Pacific Northwest, there are plenty of autumnally appropriate local beverages to choose from.
Here are five of my favorites.
Overjoy Pinot Noir
Pinot noir is the classic choice for pairing with Thanksgiving turkey, thanks to the varietal’s light body and juicy flavors that complement, rather than overpower, the overrated poultry. In Oregon, it’s hard to go wrong with any mid-range Pinot you find on your grocery store shelf. But if you’re looking for a real crowd pleaser, go with Overjoy.
This wine is a collaboration between Black-owned Dundee winery Maison Noir and New Seasons Market. It’s the definition of approachable: a jammy flavor with just a little cedar at the end and an easy, clean finish, making it ideal for drinking with dinner. At $16.99 a bottle, Overjoy straddles the line between affordability and specialness, and you can pour it from hors d'oeuvres through pie time.
Son of Man Sagardo Basque-Style Cider
Apple cider is a natural fall feast pick, but Son of Man puts a twist on the typically sweet American craft cider. This Basque-style cider crafted in the Columbia River Gorge is oak-fermented like wine, and the result is a funky but still-tame treat that would pair especially nicely with squash and root vegetables.
Son of Man’s selections are sold in wine bottles ($16 at John’s Marketplace), so they have that festive, bubbly feel fit for a holiday. But at 6 percent alcohol by volume to wine’s typical 12, you can sip it slowly like wine throughout the day and still be coherent when it’s time to debate mask mandates with your relatives.
pFriem Pumpkin Bier
You probably know by this point that there’s no actual pumpkin in Starbucks’ iconic pumpkin spice latte—rather, the drink is loaded with spices that typically go into a pumpkin dessert. This also happens to be the case with a lot of pumpkin beers: what you might think is a gourd-forward ale is actually just packed with cinnamon and allspice.
Fortunately, award-winning Hood River brewery pFriem loads fresh pumpkin into this seasonal release ($6 per bottle at Bread & Roses Market), along with some of the familiar spices. It’s a Belgian-style ale, so the yeast has a pleasant kick. Sipping this ale, you realize that pumpkin itself has a mellow, understated flavor, making this beer one you’ll want to keep sipping—if you can find it amid the high demand of the season.
Som Cranberry Vinegar Cordial
Originally crafted as the house drinking vinegar brand for acclaimed Portland restaurant Pok Pok (RIP), Som Vinegar Cordials are now billed as “celebrat[ing] the intersection of discerning craft cocktail enthusiasts and alcohol free beverages.” These puckery-tart, perfectly sweet drinks can of course be mixed with vodka or the booze of your choice, but I prefer drinking it the way the label suggests: with four-parts seltzer or club soda and one-part cordial, preferably served in a martini glass so you can feel fancy.
And given that this is Thanksgiving we’re talking about, cranberry ($16 at Bread & Roses Market) is the natural choice to bring to the table. As the brilliant chef and cookbook author Samin Nosrat once noted, cranberry sauce is the low-key star of a typical Thanksgiving dinner, because it’s the only thing on the table offering an acidic escape from the heavy, salty fare. This Som cordial offers the same relief, and also allows you to stay sober while still feeling festive.
Otto’s Cranberry Orange Sparkling CBD Cider
Cranberry is an essential Thanksgiving flavor (see above), and pairing it with citrus helps take the pungent edge off. This cider ($4 at Bread & Roses Market), brewed in Southern Washington with organic Washington apples, is another non-alcoholic option that gives you a little bubbly, with the added benefit of 30 milligrams of CBD. Drink it when your uncle asks you to explain your job for the third time and you feel the walls caving in.