Thanksgiving is a day for gratitude and feasting, with many families and friends the world over getting together for a fabulous feast, but beyond the dishes, what drinks might make a suitable accompaniment?
The arrival drink is the height of sophistication and an essential for any accomplished host. Having one prepared ahead of time can also help you to serve indecisive guests at a time when you might have other final touches that you need to see to.
50ml Toki (or other soft Japanese or grain whisky)
25ml freshly squeezed ruby grapefruit juice
10ml Honey syrup (50:50 mix of honey and boiling water; stir until dissolved)
(if using white grapefruit instead of ruby, add another 10ml of honey syrup)
30ml sparkling water
Shake the ingredients except the sparkling water with ice and strain into an ice-filled glass. Top up with sparkling water.
For a non-alcoholic version of the drink, simply leave out the whisky and double the amounts of grapefruit juice and honey syrup.
A bright and refreshing drink with crisp acidity and a gentle, woody spice that increases the appetite and prepares you for the coming festivities.
Wine is typically the main choice when it comes to roast dinners, but this whisky drink is a more than suitable thirst-quenching alternative.
150ml whisk(e)y of choice
4 heaped teaspoons cranberry sauce (either fresh or from a jar)
Sparkling wine or lemonade
Shake the ingredients without ice. Fine strain into an ice-filled jug and top up with the sparking wine or lemonade. To serve, pour into a wine glass and garnish with fresh cranberries.
Preparing this drink in a jug helps to stop it from being too fizzy whilst nonetheless keeping a gentle sparkle. For a stronger level of effervescence, pour the mix directly into an ice-filled glass.
Using a high-rye bourbon (such as Old Grand-Dad) provides a rich nuttiness, while a high-corn whiskey adds a sweet, grainy crispness. If using a Scotch whisky, a lighter blend or grain whisky works well; an Irish blend could be used, too.
Whiskey Cider Smash
50ml high-rye bourbon, spicy rye whiskey, or full-bodied, lightly peated Scotch
45ml cloudy apple juice
20ml freshly squeezed lemon juice (or half a lemon cut into wedges; if using lemon pieces, first muddle them in the shaker or shake really, really hard)
10ml honey syrup (or maple simple syrup if you want a richer cocktail)
1.5-inch slice fresh ginger or 1 pinch ground ginger
Shake hard and strain into a rocks glass. Garnish with cinnamon stick – with a burnt end for added aroma. If you make this using a big bourbon and maple syrup, you could turn this into a fizz by topping up with ginger ale.
The tart yet fruity nature of this cocktail contrasts well with the richness of the pumpkin pie filling and complements the spice. This year, I added a touch of cumin to the spice mix for our pie, which was a delight!
For those that fancy a pecan pie, the bittersweet richness of an Old Pal (an equal-parts Negroni made with rye whiskey instead of gin) is a delicious choice; the bitterness of the drink brilliantly cuts through the sticky sweetness of the dessert.
Hopefully this provides a little inspiration of how to incorporate whiskey into the special day. Of course, a dram at the end of the meal is always delightful, but for those with a sweeter tooth, why not be a rebel and have Manhattan as a digestif?