By JL Hoke
Holidays can be stressful. Cocktails can help.
I live in Kentucky, so I usually tend toward bourbon. It’s ubiquitous, it’s rich in history – just like Thanksgiving – and it’s delicious. As lovely as it is neat or over ice, sometimes a special occasion calls for a bit of flair. Relax and get the party started with one of these tasty cocktails inspired by the heart of autumn. Wild Turkey is a cheeky bourbon choice, but use your favorite.
The first one comes from a name you see a lot around this time of year: McCormick, the popular spice, herb and flavoring company. The recipe could easily be doubled or tripled for ease of service.
Note: Freeze apple cider in ice-cube trays to serve this over.
- 4 cups cracked ice, divided
- 1 cup apple cider, divided
- ½ cup bourbon, divided
- ½ cup sage-molasses syrup,* divided
- ½ cup lemon juice, divided
For each cocktail shaker of Molasses-Bourbon Sour, fill the shaker with 2 cups cracked ice. Add ½ cup apple cider, ¼ cup bourbon, ¼ cup sage-molasses syrup and ¼ cup lemon juice; shake until well-mixed and chilled. Place apple-cider ice cubes into each of 2 rocks glasses. Strain cocktails into glasses. Repeat with remaining ingredients to make 4 cocktails.
- ¼ cup molasses
- ¼ cup water
- 1 tablespoon rubbed sage
Mix molasses, water and sage in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low; simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand for 10 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Cover and refrigerate until well-chilled. (This makes enough syrup for 4 cocktails.)
(Adapted from mccormick.com.)
2016 Thanksgiving Guide: Full meal recipes, shopping list, a cue sheet on when to prepare AND tips from a mental health provider on coping with holidays.
New take on a old-fashioned cocktail
I’d seen this New Fashioned recipe around before, and always wanted to indulge, because I love herbaceous cocktails (see above). Even just a sprig of rosemary in a Champagne flute is aromatic and kind of fancy. The New Fashioned is a nicely balanced cocktail that’s not too fruity, not too timid and looks pretty in the glass.
- 2 oz. bourbon
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 4 blackberries
- 1 orange wedge
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 2 dashes orange bitters
- Splash club soda
In a rocks glass, muddle sugar, blackberries, orange, thyme and bitters until combined, then add bourbon, and fill with ice. Stir well, and top with club soda. Garnish with a blackberry, an orange twist and sprig of thyme.
Holiday flair with south-of-the-border pizzazz
For something a little lighter, give a tip of the pilgrim hat to our dearly departed summer with a big batch of cranberry margaritas. For extra kick, cut a jalapeno or Fresno chili in half and infuse the tequila with it the night before. I highly recommend this step. Use chilies as part of your garnish so guests won’t be surprised….
Cranberry Margaritas for a Crowd
- 3 cups 100 percent cranberry juice
- 1½ cups fresh lime juice
- 1½ cups blanco tequila (infuse a 750ml bottle overnight with a split jalapeno or Fresno chili; optional. Alternatively, muddle a slice of jalapeno in the glass before adding ingredients.)
- ½ cup triple sec
Mix all ingredients together until blended. Serve over ice in sugar- or salt-rimmed glasses, garnished with fresh cranberries and a lime wedge, and a sliver of fresh chili, if you used it. Add fizz with a topper of club soda if desired.