Holiday spirits to help you through Turkey Day
By Mark Criden
It’s almost Thanksgiving, and, if you’ve been paying attention, you already know what wine to serve with the bird. (If you haven’t, see November 2007.) And maybe you’re already planning to count your blessings. But let’s be honest here. Some people anticipate Thanksgiving with the fondness usually reserved for a root canal. It’s not hard to see why:
Illustration by JP Thimot.
• Your relatives are coming over.
• It’s going to be a long day.
• Uncle Fred will tell dirty jokes.
• The turkey will take forever to defrost.
• You’ll peel chestnuts all morning and your fingernails will be sore and raw.
• Your nephew won’t stop talking about how much money he makes.
• There’s nothing on television but football.
Did I mention your relatives are coming over?
Major dental surgery requires knock-out drops. Major holidays do, too. Luckily, Thanksgiving is tailor-made for such anesthesia. The items that instantly bring to mind images of Thanksgiving celebrationsthings like cranberries, apples, and pumpkin pienot only look good, smell great, and taste even better; they make wonderful, powerful cocktails.So here’s my list of Thanksgiving-inspired drink recipes to help forget your holiday to remember. Two notes:
If you want these to look festive, I’ve included optional garnish ideas as appropriate.
For most of these drinks, do I really have to tell you to shake with ice, strain, pour, and drink?
And one further caveat: If it’s not a great idea to get loaded while roasting the turkey, it’s an infinitely worse idea when you’re carving. Give someone else the knife.
First up, it’s not called Turkey Day for nothing. Why not make it a “Wild Turkey Day” with the eponymous Thanksgiving Cocktail?
Even more refreshing, especially if it’s before noon, is the Rock Gobbler:
If you haven’t even had breakfast yet, mix a Tooty Fruity Turkey, made with equal parts of
The Thanksgiving breakfast of champions. Nothing says “open me” like a can of jellied cranberry sauce. But why let it slosh around in a dish when it can slosh around in a highball or martini glass? The cranberry is one of the most versatile cocktail companions around. Take, for instance, our old friend, the Cosmopolitan.
For a simpleand more potentvariation, there’s nothing like a Crantini, especially when garnished with vodka-soaked craisins.
And, for a brilliant seasonal variation, mix a Gobble-tini.
If your guests won’t arrive for a few hours yet, why not make a couple of blender batches of Cranberry Margaritas?
But if it’s early, and you have a whole day of anxiety ahead of you, I might suggest Cranberry-Vodka Punch, garnished with slices of fresh fruit.
And though this probably isn’t you, for those who can truly think way ahead, there’s always Pilgrim’s Punch.
Next course. Assuming you haven’t forgotten to put the apple pie in the oven, why not reward yourself with an Apple Pie Cocktail, garnished with twist of lemon peel.
If that’s too much trouble, try a shot of Grandma’s Apple Pie.
And, for a quick one after the guests blessedly depart, reward yourself with an Irish Apple Cocktail, garnished with an apple slice.
I love pumpkin pie. I love it fresh, I love it frozen, but I especially love it in drinks. For instance, there’s the eponymous Pumpkin Pie cocktail:
For those more inclined towards the classics, there’s always the Pumpkin Martini, garnished with a cinnamon stick.
Two more suggestions. If you like the taste of ginger, but pumpkin’s not your bag, try a Ginger Snap:
Finally, to mark the seasonand pay tribute to our beloved neighbor to the north where Thanksgiving is celebrated in Octoberthere’s the Maple Leaf Martini. The color is pale yellow and it tastes just like a creamsicle.
And give someone else the carving knife.
Mark Criden (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a non-profit executive and the former chair of the Buffalo Branch of the International Wine & Food Society.
A Gin for Vodka Drinkers
Think “gin” and chances are you’re imagining London Dry, a twice-distilled spirit flavored with juniper berries and other botanicals. You’re also thinking you either love it or hate it. Many, many people hate the sharp flavor profile of what the British used to call “Mother’s Ruin,” especially in favor of the more neutral tang of vodka.
Recently, there’s been a boom in boutique gin production and one of the new stars of this movement is the French small-batch maker G’Vine. Like many new gins, G’Vine downplays the juniper in favor of a whole laundry list of botanicals (ginger roots, liquorice, green cardamom, cassia bark, coriander, juniper berries, cubeb berries, nutmeg, and lime, for the gin geek), and goes one step farther by adding green grape flowers to the mix.
Sexily packaged in a square-shouldered bottle, G’vine’s perfumed, floral, citrusy aroma fills the room. It’s subtle yet complex in the mouth, soft and roundminty, evenwith the green grape flowers virtually eliminating those flavors gin-haters refer to as “pine-sol.”
This eighty-proof baby carries a premium tag of $35-40 and is a well-balanced spirit that would go fine in many cocktails. But make no mistakethis is the gin for people who don’t like gin, and thus a great alternative to vodka. But if you’re like me, asking for a “Gin” Martini is from the department of redundancy department.
Back to the Table of Contents
Back to Top