Drinks that we are thankful for

By Robert Luessen

I’m not sure if it’s the food or the festivities, but Thanksgiving has always held the top spot on my list of holidays. There’s something that resonates for me about bringing together people to share a meal without the pretense of gift-giving or extracurricular celebration. It also helps that Thanksgiving is by far the best eating and drinking holiday on the calendar.

Photo taken by Jillian Guyette

Not that I have a ton of free hours in the day to devote to holiday preparations, but I always manage to carve out (pun intended) the time to devote to cooking a feast for my friends and family. These coveted seats at the table have no shortage of fine wine or tasty cuisine. Years ago, long before I helmed the entire Thanksgiving dinner I cut my teeth by helping in the kitchen.

Naturally helping in the kitchen came with a drink. For as long as I can remember, at the start of every Thanksgiving, my aunt or uncle would mix up a batch of Poinsettias to get the day started. I wish I knew the origin of this drink to my family’s holiday. I have a sneaking suspicion it falls into the same category of all well revered holiday mainstays; someone started it, no one can remember who or why, and nobody cares. Thanksgiving morning isn’t itself without one:

Poinsettia Cocktail

  • 1 oz Vodka
  • 3 oz Cranberry Juice
  • 1/2 cup Champagne
  • 1 strip Orange Zest
  • Crushed ice

Combine ice, vodka, and cranberry juice in a rocks glass. Stir to chill and top with champagne. Garnish with orange zest. Enjoy and refresh a maximum of two times before dinner, no more, no less.

That said, sometimes the holidays can feel more like a marathon than a sprint. Whether it’s days stuck at home with family whom you may not agree politically or socially, or you’re actually busting your butt to cook two Thanksgiving dinners for almost 40 people in 72 hours (something I may be all too familiar with and everything is fine). Multi-day affairs in my opinion call for either a lower octane option like beer or an easy drinking lower alcohol option like an aperitif. A drink that will waft you through the day (or multiple) without regret. Take it easy and try a Lillet Highball:

Rosemary Lillet Highball

  • 2 oz Lillet Blanc
  • Soda water
  • 1 sprig Rosemary
  • Crushed ice

Combine ice and Lillet in a collins glass. Stir to chill and top with soda water. Garnish with a rosemary sprig. Keep on refreshing this and you’re good to go.

Despite my calls for moderation and pacing, I can’t argue that at the end of the evening there is always time for brown liquor. Once the desserts have been served and the dishes are washed then it’s time to break out the good stuff. Below are some of my recommendations for after meal sippers

Whiskey try Hibiki Suntory
Bourbon try Michter’s 
Scotch try Balvenie Doublewood 12 yrs
Brandy try
Copper & King’s Butchertown 
Cognac try Hennessy VS
Aged Tequilla try Don Julio 1942

 One should always save room for the last sip of the night.

Robert Luessen
Photo taken by Jillian Guyette