Thanksgiving is my favorite eating holiday and it is right around the corner. You aren’t in the red zone for thawing a turkey yet but it should be on your mind. Perhaps I love it so much because it is one day of gluttony that is perfectly acceptable. It is also expected that anyone that sat at the “big table” will be falling asleep in front of the television during the Lions game with their belt or at least a button undone. Not that we will all be wide eyed for the Cowboys either…
When it comes to pairing wine with the midday feast there of course is the ever popular Beaujolais region with its light, young, zingy Gamay based reds. Dad will probably want a big Napa Cab or a Zin and may think that Beaujolais Nouveau is a scam. Too bad I lean more towards French Rhône blends because they pair fantastically with anything you will find on the turkey day table and they won’t blow you away like a big Cali Cab. You can always have a bottle of bubbly around and if that is your jam. I do prefer Champagne for smaller get-togethers or a few bottles of Crémant to save a buck or two for a big group. For Thanksgiving in Ann Arbor we usually grab all our wine from the awesome Turkey Wall at Everyday Wines in Kerrytown. But what about like…booze booze?
This year my wife and I will have both sets of parents joining us as well as her two older brothers and their significant others (one is expecting), two toddlers, and two dogs (one being a giant golden retriever). Full house. We will be doing all the cooking to keep the kitchen entirely gluten free so in order to keep glasses filled I will be making a punch. When it comes to punches I am pretty fond of the classic recipe:
One of sour, two of sweet, three of strong, and four of weak.
I have used this ratio over and over with great success and anytime I stray from it I usually regret it. Seeing that we will be in Michigan my weak component will be fresh pressed apple cider from a local mill cut with sparkling water. Sour is easy to do with lemon juice and for my strong I will be using a mix of funky Jamaican rums. For the sweet addition I will be using an oleo saccharum made with lemon and orange peel with some whole black peppercorns and cinnamon sticks tossed in for good measure. This will all be served in a large bowl over a big block of ice with oranges, apples, and lemons sliced up and floating about. For the kiddos and those that don’t care for alcohol I will have some spiritfree spiced cider ready to go.
Spiritfree Hot Cider:
In a Crock Pot:
Add One Gallon Local Apple Cider
A Few Sticks of Cinnamon
10 or so Cloves
15 Black Peppercorns
1 Cut Up Knob of Ginger
1 Quartered Orange
Set the Crock Pot to low and check it in four or so hours.
Strain the mix through some cheese cloth or just be careful with your scooping.
Use a ladle to serve the cider in coffee cups.
Toss in a few ice cubes for the little ones.
After dinner and probably before the Lions lose, a bottle of Drambuie will make an appearance. One of my favorite evening drinks and totally seasonally appropriate for Thanksgiving is the rusty nail. The goal is to get these in the hands of some non whisky drinkers.
In a Rocks Glass:
Add One Large Chunk of Ice
40 ml Blended Scotch Whisky (Dewars or Famous Grouse)
20 ml Drambuie
Stir briefly to incorporate.
Lemon twist and discard.
Between punch, wine at dinner, and a rusty nail or two that should be enough social adhesive to keep everyone happy…and probably in need of a Bloody Mary before Christmas shopping on Black Friday.