The American tradition of feasting on Thanksgiving Day has morphed from a banquet among friends into a spectacle including the NFL and huge inflated cartoon floats. Even the traditional roasting of a turkey has been muddied by tofurkey and turducken.
Families also have their own set of ever-changing traditions. These range from gathering around the widescreen to sitting down for a white-tablecloth meal. Whatever your holiday routine, homemade beverages will add cheer and a heartfelt touch to any gathering.
Coming together around a bottle of booze may not make the Christmas card, but drink-making with your loved ones is an activity that all can enjoy. The more mixologists, the merrier.
Spiced Cider Sangria
Some family dinners resemble World War III; at others, the clinking silverware plays the most active role in conversation. Whatever your kin’s celebration style, this warm drink’s fruity zest is sure to soothe familial tension.
5 cups unfiltered apple juice
1 cup spiced rum
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon honey
Cut the fruit into medium-sized wedges. In a medium-sized sauce pan, bring the apple juice to a quick simmer. Squeeze the juice of the lemon and oranges into the pan, and then add in their rinds. Add the spices. In the covered pan, simmer the mixture for five to 10 minutes, depending on how much spice infusion you want the drink to have. Add the honey and rum. When the mixture is heated, add the apple wedges. Ladle the mixture (fruit pieces and all) into large mugs. Serves four.
Sparkling Cranberry Punch
Fizz the season to be jolly. Great for a crowd, a bowl of this merrymaking concoction looks seasonal with its poinsettia-pink color, and after a few glasses it will bring its rosy hue to the cheeks of your guests as well.
4 cups cranberry juice cocktail
2 cups lemon sour soda
2 cups vodka
2 cups raw cranberries
Freeze the cranberries overnight or for several hours. Chill all ingredients. Mix together the soda and juice in a large bowl. Add the berries. These will keep your punch cool without dismantling its potency. Garnish each glass with a sprig of fresh mint. Serves eight.
Taking a hint from the savory flavors of Thanksgiving, this libation borrows an herb often used to flavor the centerpiece bird. Throwing it in a sweet mixture is a new take on this favorite summertime cocktail.
1 cup water
1 cup bourbon
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup seltzer
10 sprigs fresh rosemary
In a small sauce pan, heat the sugar in the water over low heat. Add eight sprigs of the rosemary. Simmer until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat, and let the syrup cool. Pour six tablespoons of the syrup, half of the bourbon, half of the seltzer and the juice from half of the lemon into a large ice-filled drink shaker. Shake until cold. Pour over crushed ice, and garnish with a half-sprig of rosemary. Repeat using the remaining ingredients. Excess syrup can be saved in the refrigerator for further mixology experiments. Adapted from Ted Allen’s Rosemary Julep recipe. Serves four.
Bribe and booze it up with the head chef of your Thanksgiving kitchen to add your homemade drink to the menu. At-home bartending may become your family’s new turkey-day ritual.