The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Thanksgiving Cocktails Made Easy with Kathy Casey

By Paul Leddy in Food on Nov 27, 2013 4:00PM

11_25_13_KCheadshot.jpg How did our grandmothers do it?

The stress of making a Thanksgiving dinner for a large crowd can be bad enough when focusing on the preparation and cooking of the food. Add "making cocktails” to our list and our heads explode like a deep-fried turkey gone horribly wrong. It doesn't have to be that way. Cocktail making for Thanksgiving can be easy with just a little preparation.

We enlisted the help of one of the original "bar-chefs," Kathy Casey from Kathy Casey Food Studios - Liquid Kitchen, to give some advice and offer some recipes to the Thanksgiving mixologist.

Casey advises to do as much as possible in advance and not offer more than 1 or 2 cocktails, along with some red and sparkling wine, to guests. "Most of the recipes I have that are pre-batched can be made a week ahead, so long as it is well refrigerated,” Casey explains. "The alcohol helps stabilize the pre-mixes.”

There is also scalability with the cocktail recipes. Batching cocktails is a great shortcut for serving large crowds and you can definitely scale up your favorite cocktail recipe for the day. "A good thing to know about pre-batching is that you can easily take the ounce measurement in a cocktail recipe and just change it to ounces from cups,” Casey says. Also, avoid overly sweet cocktails before dinner. “Palates have changed, the trend today is people are enjoying less sweet cocktails,” Casey says. "Well balanced is the most important factor of a cocktail”

Casey shared a couple cocktail recipes with us that incorporates a lot of fall flavors that work well for Thanksgiving (cranberries, ginger, and spices).

We can’t make the stress of cooking for Thanksgiving go away, but we can make sure you are armed with the cocktails to calm you and your guests. We’re sure our grandmothers would approve.

Snow Drift

Housemade Cranberry Ginger Syrup adds holiday flair to this festive and frothy cocktail. You can also mix the syrup with sparkling water and a squeeze of fresh lemon for the holiday party designated driver.

4 ounces Martin Miller’s Gin
1 1/2 ounces fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 ounces Cranberry Ginger Syrup (recipe below)
1 1/2 ounces pasteurized or organic egg white
1 cup ice (crushed or pebble ice works great)

Garnish: candied ginger and cranberry on a pick (optional)

Measure cocktail ingredients in a blender with ice. Blend on high until ice is totally blended and drink is frothy. Pour into coupe glasses. Garnish with candied ginger and cranberry on a pick if desired.

Makes 4 cocktails.

*This recipe easily doubles or pre-batch large amounts of this cocktail by changing ounces to cups. Then blend 4 ounces (1/2 cup) of the pre-mix with 1/2 cup of the ice.

Cranberry Ginger Syrup
Makes about 20 ounces or enough for 12 cocktails

1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
4 tsp. finely grated orange zest
4 tsp. finely minced fresh ginger
2 cups water
2 cup sugar

Place ingredients into a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Simmer for 1 minute then turn off heat. Let steep for 30 minutes. Then strain through a fine mesh strainer, pressing out the cranberries. Store in a bottle refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

11_25_13_manhattan.jpg Manhattan with Spiced Vermouth
2 ounces bourbon or rye
1 ounce Spiced Red Vermouth (recipe below)
Dash of Liquid Kitchen Golden Era Bitters or your favorite bitters
Garnish: Cherry on a pick

Measure the bourbon, infused vermouth and bitters into a mixing glass. Fill three-quarters full with ice. Stir with a bar spoon until well chilled. Strain into a coupe glass.
Garnish with an amarena cherry on a pick.

Makes 1 cocktail

Spiced Vermouth
This holiday-inspired vermouth is perfect for winter-themed drinks that require a red vermouth. Watch Casey make the vermouth here.

4 pieces of orange zest
1 large slice of fresh ginger
2 whole allspice berries
5 whole cloves
10 fresh or frozen cranberries
1 ounce spiced rum
1 cup sweet red vermouth

Add all the ingredients to a suitable glass bottle, decanter or jar. Allow the mixture to infuse, refrigerated, for at least two days before using. Store refrigerated for up to a month. Use in any cocktail that calls for sweet vermouth.

Recipes by Kathy Casey Liquid Kitchen®.