I imagined my second Thanksgiving cocktail recipe as the perfect complement to the main meal - slightly savory, unimposing and complimentary in flavor. I knew I wanted to work with a common fall vegetable, and carrots came to mind as a healthy and ubiquitous option. Surprised to hear me casually suggesting vegetable cocktails? I completely understand - I was initially suspicious as well. While I'm not keen on Bloody Marys and dirty martinis, I have thoroughly enjoyed well-executed cocktails featuring carrots, beets and even poblano peppers. It's all about using those unexpected flavors alongside more common ingredients to create drinkable, yet unique concoctions.
In my industry research (meaning drinking many cocktails), I've found that carrot is almost always mixed with ginger. The flavor pairing works in both food dishes and cocktails alike and is a perfectly safe mixing option. However, I didn't want to do safe (because taking risks is undeniably more fun, even if it is sometimes at the expense of your cocktail tester/husband). I considered rosemary but thought that might make the drink far too savory. Instead, I needed something light, fresh and gently herbal: sage.
I brought the carrot and sage flavors together with some apple cider for sweetness (and bonus fall vibes) and lemon for a balanced tartness. To finish off the recipe, I chose to feature Koval white rye as the spirit. I had previously sampled white rye in a nitro cold brew cocktail at one of my favorite local restaurants (Beatrix) and was blown away by how smooth, sweet and pleasantly spiced it was. All un-aged whiskeys I had tried to date had left me feeling disappointed and overwhelmed with the booze forwardness but this one quickly became a staple in my creations.
This cocktail is truly a garden feast - earthy, refreshing and virtually guiltless!
A Garden Feast
- 2 oz white rye whiskey
- 1 oz carrot juice (if you get a store-bought variety, make sure it doesn't have much, if any, added sugar)
- 1 oz apple cider
- 1 oz sage syrup*
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Several sage leaves, for garnish
Shake all ingredients other than fresh sage with ice until chilled, then strain into rocks glass. For a greater sensory experience (and lovely presentation), use mini clothespins to attach several fresh sage leaves to the rim of the glass. To make this drink in bulk, adjust the measurements for your guest count and stir ingredients in a pitcher with ice to chill. Divide between glasses, using a spoon to hold back the ice. Enjoy while strategically selecting a next to your favorite Thanksgiving dish.
*To make syrup, heat 4:1 parts water:sugar in a small saucepan until sugar dissolves. Add sage leaves (1 small container of sage works well for 2 cups of water) and keep on heat for 5 minutes, making sure sage is fully submerged. Strain, allow to cool and store excess in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.