1 oz Kina L’Aero D’Or [Tempus Fugit]*
1 oz Rainwater Madeira [Broadbent]
1/2 oz Cranberry Thyme Syrup
Stir with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with cranberries and thyme sprig. Optional: top with splash of prosecco or club soda
* If you don’t have Kina, Lillet, Cocchi Americano, or even a good dry vermouth will do in a pinch
Loosen the Belt
1 1/2 oz Bourbon [Woodford Reserve]
1 oz Amaro Meletti
1/2 oz Coffe Liqueur [Boston Harbor Distilling]
Stir with ice, strain into an ice filled rocks glass.
It’s almost time for my most favorite holiday of the year. I love Thanksgiving cuz it’s all about excess – lots of food, lots of football, lots of family. And yeah, a fair bit of drinking in there too. Last year’s Cornucopia Spritz was a low ABV aperitif style cocktail to get you ready for the meal but keeps you from saying anything embarrassing during it. This year I’ve got another light cocktail for the afternoon, but this time I’m throwing in a nice digestif style drink to help you out once the plates are cleared.
Capturing seasonal flavors in a glass is always fun, and there are plenty on the Thanksgiving table. To incorporate them into my drink this year, I added equal parts sugar, water, and smashed fresh cranberries (plus a healthy dose of thyme) simmered for about five to ten minuntes, then strained everything into a bottle. The result is a Cranberry Thyme syrup that is sweet, tart, woodsy, and very Thanksgiving-y.
This summer I was very into Americanos, so I used that as inspiration for this holiday drink. I wanted a slight bitter element, as that’s great for getting the mouth watering before a meal. Kina l’Aero d’Or is a great choice here. Tempus Fugit has resurrected this wonderful french style aperitif, chock full of botanicals and classic bittering agents like cinchona bark and wormwood. The 18% ABV keeps it nice and drinkable.
Even though it’s low in alcohol, the Kina still packs some bite, so I knew the rest of the drink would be an exercise in balance. Along with the Cranberry Thyme Syrup, sweetness also came from a medium dry madeira. Once all these elements were in the glass, they really came together. Cranberry and Thyme are very present on the nose, and play nice with the botanicals in the Kina. Cranberries and Kina combine for a bright tartness on the sip, which moves into herbaceousness from the thyme. On the swallow there is another wave of sweetness, but ultimately it finishes crisp and dry. The Family Thyme definitely gets your saliva glands ready for what’s to come. And if you want to throw a splash of prosecco or even club soda in here to liven things up with some bubbles, I’m not gonna hate.
As a bonus, if you don’t have Kina and Madeira lying around the house, just grab a lime (1/2 oz) and some gin (1 1/2 oz) and you’re in business. Combine those with the Cranberry Thyme syrup (3/4 oz) and some prosecco or club soda, and you’ve got something between a French 75 and a Gin Rickey perfect for the occasion.
On the other end of the meal, you’ll need something to help your stomach work through that second drumstick and third helping of mashed potatoes. That’s where good ol’ Amaro comes in. This family bitter Italian liqueurs were pretty much invented to help manage stuffed bellies. Trying to keep the flavors seasonal, I opted for Meletti as it has hints of clove, allspice, and a subtle nuttiness. Since this is an after-dinner drink, some coffee liqueur sounded like good call. And what’s a night cap without some whiskey, so bourbon helps round everything out with some sweetness. The Loosen the Belt drink is perfect for sitting on the couch with your belt loosened a few notches. Bitterness from the coffee and amaro will help calm the fullest of bellies, while the warmth from the whiskey relaxes from the inside out.
If you make either (or all) of these drinks on Thursday, I highly recommend batching them up beforehand. That way you can schmooze it up with all your family and friends, and quickly pour drinks when you need. It’s great to get holiday flavors into your glass, it’s even better to do it efficiently. Happy Thanksgiving.