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Our Favorite Thanksgiving Cocktails

By Kristine Sherred in Food on Nov 26, 2014 7:20PM

Tired of drinking magnum bottles of table wine starting at 1pm on Thanksgiving Day? Spice up your pre- and post- turkey libations with these food-friendly cocktails. Shoot classic to please palates, but don’t hesitate to put a wee bit of time into preparing - if you’re not weeded in the kitchen of course.

The humble apple now idles in the background of autumnal treats, having lost its hipness to its seasonal vegetable counterpart, The Great Pumpkin. Here we take the apple up a notch while keeping classic flavors associated with Thanksgiving sweets.

La Lost Pomme
1 part curried cider reduction
1 part grapefruit juice
2 parts Calvados
Spoonful of Pastis

Shake shake shake the ingredients and double strain into coupe.

For the cider syrup, reduce 1 cup cider (or less, depending on your party size!) on the stove top with the peels of half an orange, 2-3 star anise, and a tablespoon or two of curry powder, to taste. Simmer until cider thickens. Strain and let cool.

I chose a young Calvados that highlights the raw fruit flavor of the Calvados. Older Calvados, unparalleled on their own, are a bit too woody for this kind of refresher. Try Roger Groult 3yr Reserve, whose cider is fermented for eight months—six months longer than the law necessitates—which yields notes of lightly spiced apple, poached pears, and hazelnuts in the finished spirit. I liked the Pastis over absinthe, as the touch of anise in the cider shines on the nose.

While the Pomme would sit well before or during dinner, for a lighter sip that will really whet the palate, pick a bitter aperitif wine like Salers Gentiane Liqueur. Pour over ice and top with a little soda or bubbly and a lemon twist. You could have several of these and still be on your feet before the buns hit the table.

We won’t judge if you also take a glass of wine (or two) with dinner. You earned it with all this cocktail planning!

Après-dîner, to please the crowd and that pumpkin pie, whip up some classic Old Fashioneds, but use maple syrup rather than plain sugar. It’s a simple fix, but it will make a world of fall-filled difference. Angostura bitters are the go-to, but give Midwestern favorite Bittercube a whirl. Their Bolivar bitters offer unexpected floral tea notes along with the cinnamon and spice one desires from an aromatic. For the adventurous family member, dash their Cherry Bark Vanilla instead. If said person is extremely adventurous, consider employing an aged Jamaican rum over bourbon. Smith & Cross stands out due to its pleasant spiciness and high proof: it is bottled at “navy strength,” similar to the higher ABV gins back on the market. Either way you make it, we promise they’ll probably take it.

Mae Be Later
bar spoonful (⅛ oz) real maple syrup, or ¼ to taste
dash orange bitters
2 dashes aromatic bitters
2½ ounces Buffalo Trace bourbon
Build in mixing glass, stir well with ice, strain into rocks glass. Garnish with orange twist.

Cheers to a spirited day of good food, friends, and family!