A Garden Feast

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.

Thanks to Belen Aquino for the stunning cocktail photography and to Gather Vintage Tablescapes for the lovely glasses, dishware and other table adornments.

 

A Grand Entrance

Thanksgiving is almost upon us, meaning it's time to marginally freak out about hosting or contributing to the greatest feast of the year. After years of helping my family with cooking and taking my first shot at hosting both families with my husband, I've learned to seek that perfect balance between dishes that are impressive yet reasonably simple to prepare. This is one of the few occasions you can depend on for meaningful interaction with all your family or friends. You want to spend that time engaging with them and experiencing the meal for yourself, not running around madly until you collapse on the nearest couch.

I'm here to help you achieve just that on the cocktail front with three inventive autumnal beverages. Either prepare all three as you progress through the evening or select your favorite to share with the lucky guests. As always, I'll provide the inspiration and you'll choose your own adventure. 

The first cocktail of the series is inspired by my FAVORITE relish recipe and is the ideal libation for welcoming your guests. A sweet-tart syrup of cranberry, raspberry and orange shapes the main flavor profile while ginger liqueur adds a a hint of spice, lime maintains balance and club soda bubbles keep it festive. I chose to feature vodka in this cocktail for flavor neutrality but you could experiment with bourbon or rye whiskey if you or your guests prefer it to vodka. As an added bonus, this cocktail can be prepared individually or as a punch, just scale up the recipe if needed. 

A Grand Entrance

  • 2 oz vodka
  • 0.5 oz ginger liqueur (I recommend Domaine de Canton)
  • 1.5 oz cranberry raspberry orange syrup*
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Club soda to top
  • 3 cranberries for garnish

To make individual drinks. mix first four ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake until chilled and strain into a stemmed glass. Top with a splash of club soda and garnish with fresh cranberries on a cocktail spear. To make the drink in bulk, scale up the recipe for your desired quantity and add first four ingredients (ideally chilled) to a punch bowl. Top with club soda (no more than 1 oz per drink) right before serving and add some floating cranberries, raspberries and/or orange slices for decoration. Enjoy while welcoming your loved ones to gather around the Thanksgiving table.

*To make syrup, add 6 oz cranberries, 6 oz raspberries, 3 strips of orange peel (try to avoid the white pith as it adds bitterness), 2 cups water and 0.5 cup sugar to a small saucepan. Simmer for approximately 30 minutes, or until berries start to fall apart. Strain through a fine mesh strainer, using a spoon to press out all the liquid. Allow to cool and store excess in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. Note that this recipe makes about 16 oz of syrup (or enough for roughly 10 drinks) so scale it up if you're planning for more.

Thanks to Belen Aquino for the stunning cocktail photography and to Gather Vintage Tablescapes for the lovely glasses, dishware and other table adornments.