What Did The Pilgrims Really Drink On The First Thanksgiving?

As much as Thanksgiving is about gathering with family and friends and collectively giving thanks, it's also about eating good food. Most people have a dinner centered around turkey, and it's usually served alongside classic side dishes, such as mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, and for dessert, some pumpkin pie. But although these foods are now rooted in Thanksgiving tradition, they hardly resemble the dishes that were eaten by the pilgrims when the holiday was first celebrated.

Instead, according to NPR, the three-day-long feast consisted primarily of venison, water fowl, and regional staples such as clams, lobsters, cods, eels, turnips, and various leafy vegetables. Historical evidence shows that there was likely no turkey, and the only form of pumpkin that could've been on the table wasn't pie but rather sobaheg, a Wampanoag stew that was also made up of corn, root vegetables, beans, squash, and meat.

With so much food to indulge in, the pilgrims must've also had something to wash it down with. So what exactly was it? Though they were known to like beer, The Washington Post reports, the pilgrims actually drank something else during the first Thanksgiving.

Two drinks were served during the first Thanksgiving

If the pilgrims had a choice, they would've served beer at their celebratory feast, but they actually ran out of it when they reached Plymouth Rock, historian Elizabeth Pearce told ABC channel WGNO. The pilgrims had originally brought beer with them because it was more transportable than wine, but they ended up drinking it all during their journey across the Atlantic.

In place of beer, historian Kathy Rudder shared with The Washington Post that the pilgrims simply drank water. Not only did they not have access to barley or hops, but they also wouldn't have had enough time to brew it all before that first Thanksgiving.

Many pilgrims, however, didn't trust the water, Pennsylvania Cider Guild notes, and they resorted to hard cider on Thanksgiving (and all year long). Pearce explained to WGNO that the pilgrims produced it by harvesting apples from the crops they had access to and fermenting the juice. Along with water, this became one of the main drinks served at the first Thanksgiving.