The History of Thanksgiving & Cocktail Treats for Autumn

The Origins of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a celebration of thanks and sacrifice for the blessing of the harvest and the preceding year. It is not only observed in the US, but several other countries including Canada, Brazil, Grenada, St Lucia and Libera. Celebrating the harvest is a commonplace tradition amongst many cultures and comes from a time when it was commonly thought that the Gods had the power to gift a good harvest or to ruin it.

Interestingly, the US and Candian celebration stem from an English one that came about during the reign of King Henry VIII. During the English reformation of the church, many religious holidays were cancelled. The Puritans wanted all holidays cancelled, to be replaced with days of fasting in response to punishment from God, such as flood or plague, and days of thanksgiving in response to blessings, such as victory over the Spanish Armada, or the failure of the Gunpowder Plot.


American Thanksgiving

When the pilgrims first settled in New England, they took their traditions with them. The story at the heart of the US Thanksgiving is a meal shared between the pilgrims and the native people in 1621 to celebrate a good harvest, and the native people supplying the pilgrims with food to get them through a harsh winter.

That said, there is another story from the late 1630s where a member of the Pequot was blamed for killing a settler and the colonisers set upon the tribe, burning down their village and killing any survivors they could find. Civil leader, Governor Bradford, declared Thanksgiving would from then be a celebration of "the bloody victory, thanking God that the battle had been won."

From this point, there were many times Thanksgiving would be proclaimed by leaders, but it was George Washington who first proclaimed a nationwide celebration on November 26th 1789, now celebrated on the last Thursday in November.


Celebrating a Bountiful Feast

Nowadays, with Thanksgiving celebrating a good harvest and the blessings of the year, it’s only right that family and friends come together with a bountiful feast. Traditional food is centred around a turkey, sides like mash, gravy, green bean casserole, candied yams and a dessert of apple or pumpkin pie.

Photo Credit: Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

A quick search online reveals many Thanksgiving cocktail recipes, often centred around pumpkin, a flavour that has become synonymous with Fall. Even the word itself has powerful flavour connotations, with items like 'pumpkin spice' taking its title despite not containing any pumpkin.


Our USA Based Drink Brands 

Here at Your Drink Box, we take great pleasure in raising a glass to our friends over the pond with a celebration of our USA sourced products, a wonderful collection to give your cocktail and cuisine creations some real American authenticity.


Drink Bombs

Artisan handcrafted cocktail drink mixers made with natural ingredients, organic herbs and 24K gold. 

Simply add to your favourite alcohol of your choice (if desired), plus sparkling water or club soda. Watch the bomb dissolve and impart flavour in your glass. Now you have a new and fun twist to drinking cocktails or mocktails. Easily make individual drinks without any extra ingredients!


Hudson Standard Drinking Vinegar

As featured in my previous post on shrubs, or drinking vinegars, these drinks, though unfamiliar to the UK, have a long history in various cultures around the world. In the US, drinking vinegars appeared as the result of fruit preservation before refrigeration, and apple cider vinegar in particular has become popular as a health food. Hudson Standard have a fantastic range of five flavours, the Cassis Berry winning a star at the Great Taste Awards.


 Uncle Val's Restorative Gin

 This is a great gin that takes inspiration from classic American gin with a crisp and slightly floral profile. This is a fantastic gin for making cocktails and if you’re looking for inspiration, you can check out our recipe directory which includes some really fun recipes like the Sour Bees Knees, using ¾ OZ Honey Sour Syrup instead of honey. 


Photo Credit: 
Sarah Miller, @gin_a_ding_ding

Griffo American Whisky 

We stock two varieties of Griffo American Whisky, produced in California. Stony Point Whisky is made by milling corn and rye directly into the kettle then aged in barrels of both American and French oak.

The Stout Whisky is a limited release made with corn, aged in oak barrels then finished in stout barrels to give a wonderfully decadent flavour profile of fresh fig, caramel, coffee bean and chocolate. 

J. W. Kelly Old Millford Bourbon

It couldn’t be a list of American products without bourbon--and this is one hell of a bourbon! Made by marrying 3, 5 and 8 year old barrels, it comes in at a generous 47% ABV. The flavour profile is described as having a wonderful caramel colour with spicy flavour notes of oak, white pepper, vanilla and English toffee. The unique blend teases your palate with honey, baking spice and nutmeg as well as hints of coffee and fine chocolate.


Love and Victory

Love and Victory are a Brooklyn based brand that has burst onto the scene with a gorgeous selection of drinks related apparel like lapel pins, cufflinks and cocktail picks. The lapel pins feature a huge range of different drinks from Negronis, to Pisco Sours. They are a real class act in the way of gifting, and definitely worth considering for the Christmas gift list too.


Dashfire Bitters

Dashfire Bitters have one of the largest ranges of bitters in the world and we stock all of them. For this time of year, their Spiced Apple Bitters is just the ticket to add a little Thanksgiving vibe into anything you put them in. Remember, bitters aren’t just for drinks! They can be used in cooking too. If you’d like to find out a little more about Dashfire then check out this previous post.

So, if you want to indulge in a little Thanksgiving fun this year, we’ve got you covered! And even if you don’t, our American products can be a great extension to your back bar, and your kitchen cupboards, too. Go on, get a little creative this Fall, I mean, Autumn. Ahem.....




About the Author: Bernadette Pamplin

After landing a job in a gin bar, Bernadette became obsessed with gin and sought extensive training to learn all she could about the juniper spirit. Later, she merged this passion for gin with her passion for writing by becoming a drinks writer.

She now writes articles for publications like Gin Magazine, content for Your Drink Box and her own popular blog Under The Ginfluence. She has also served as Brand Ambassador for a large UK Gin Festival and helps organise the Craft Distilling Expo as well as speaking on panels at it. 

Bernadette has built four years experience judging events like Gin of the Year, World Gin AwardsSpirits Business AwardsGin Guide AwardsIWSC and the American Distilling Institute Judging of Craft Spirits. She loves trying gins, learning to distinguish flavours and how the botanicals and distillation processes lead to the final result. Very much "under the ginfluence," Bernadette is driven by spirit's history, flavour, and story. While gin is her speciality, she has affection for all spirits.

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