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Nov 14, 2011 01:43 PM

Need a pre-meal Thanksgiving Cocktail

TIA - hardly new to CH but I've never posted here in Spirits. So my family is dividing tasks for Thanksgiving this year. My brother-in-law asked me to bring all of the fixings to make Bloody Marys. They've become my personal specialty over the years and I'm asked to make them frequently.

The problem is I don't think they're a good pre-meal drink. In fact, I had one (and then another) while waiting to meet some chow friends for lunch the other day and kind of regretted it all day. The acid in the juice just didn't agree with me and I barely touched my lunch (wasn't missing anything anyway).

Please suggest an alternative cocktail. Could be seasonal, or just extra light (I'm thinking mojitos since it's like to be fairly warm here). Thanks so much and happy Thanksgiving all.

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  1. I always suggest Poinsettias when this question arises. Cranberry juice and sparkling wine are both seasonally appropriate. You could always make your own cranberry compote/reduction if commercial cranberry juice isn't your bag.

    1 Reply
    1. re: invinotheresverde

      I like to use pomegranate juice with sparkling wine, too. Also seasonal (even if you're using commercial juice) and a nice aperitif for the holiday season.

    2. Everybody loves a French 75. Bubbly and festive for the holiday:

      2 ounces London dry gin
      1 teaspoon superfine sugar
      1/2 ounce lemon juice
      5 ounces Brut champagne
      I like mine up in a sugar rimmed cocktail glass.

      6 Replies
      1. re: mtoo

        (sorry, I don't know how to reply in line with the ones above - I always get this indent, but I mean this to be a reply to the OP)

        We've been liking the Deauville for the last couple of years. The Calvados seems especially appropriate for fall where we are - typically cold, lots of apples in the markets, etc.

        1. re: tokyopix

          Click reply in the original message to avoid the indentation.

          Interesting cocktail. A Sidecar variation. The post says that it is a touch sweet for the poster's tastes. I would think equal parts of lemon would be more than enough to tame the Cointreau.

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          1. re: EvergreenDan

            I thought when I did that it jumped up to being right under the OP. I'll give it a try next time.

            I don't find it too sweet at all. I love Sidecars so this was right up my alley. My brother had it a few years back at a restaurant so we tried it at home and then it became the Thanksgiving cocktail. My husband and I were married in Normandy so we have a special place in our hearts for Calvados.

            1. re: tokyopix

              it will jump to the top when you type but puts your post at the bottom once you click "post my reply"

              My guess is it does that so you can more easily see the post to which you are replying for reference.

        2. re: mtoo

          This was going to be my suggestion as well. I love French 75s!
          Otherwise maybe a Kir Royale... very festive and pretty.

        3. agree 100% on the Bloody being a wrong choice for a pre-prandial. it's practically a side dish on it's own. if they push you, serve 'em as a small almost shot/appetizer (think consomme or aspic with a kick)

          but go with your instincts.

          1. My favorite Thanksgiving cocktail for the last few years has been the Marconi Wireless -- basically a Manhattan made with apple brandy:

            2 oz apple brandy (preferably American -- Laird's bottled in bond if you can get it)
            1 oz sweet vermouth (I recommend Vya. Its cinnamon notes play VERY nicely with the apple)
            2 dashes orange bitters

            Stir and strain. Garnish with a slice of fresh apple if you're in the mood. Or not.

            This drink, for me, is totally evocative of autumn. At least, autumn here in New England.

            18 Replies
            1. re: davis_sq_pro

              I have made that drink has been a pre-Thanksgiving cocktail for years and never knew it had a name and never thought to garnish with an apple slice. I guess I should get another bottle of the Lairds' seven and a half . . . .

              1. re: davis_sq_pro

                I had to look up what "Bottled in Bond" meant, I've never hear that expression before (maybe I'm drinking too much before looking at labels).

                For anyone else who is curious - this was from Wiki (so take it as you like):

                Bottled in bond refers to American-made spirit that has been aged and bottled according to a set of legal regulations contained in the United States government's Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits (27 C.F.R. 5.21, et. seq.), as originally laid out in the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897,

                To be labeled as "Bottled-in-Bond" or "Bonded," the spirit must be the product of one distillation season and one distiller at one distillery. It must have been stored (i.e., aged) in a federally bonded warehouse under U.S. government supervision for at least four years and bottled at 100 (U.S.) proof (50% alcohol by volume). The bottled product's label must identify the distillery (by DSP number) where it was distilled and, if different, where it was bottled.

                1. re: thimes

                  Yes, that's what it means, but that doesn't reveal why it's important in this case:

                  The Laird's Applejack product is (IIRC) only 40% apple brandy, cut with 60% neutral spirit. The BIB product, on the other hand, is 100% apple brandy--and that 100% is bottled at a higher proof. Meaning that if you wanted, for some odd reason, to simulate Applejack you could just mix in some vodka and a splash of water. And if you wanted the full apple flavor (highly recommended), you would be able to get it simply by tipping the bottle.

                  1. re: davis_sq_pro

                    For what it's worth, I actually find the Laird's 71/2 and 12 year old brandies preferable to the BIB. The former, at around 25 bucks a bottle, is a wonderful spirit for mixing into a cocktail - it's pure apple brandy and 80 proof. The latter is 88 proof and just shy of 40 dollars of fine, well-aged sipping brandy. The BIB, drunk neat, can be a bit "big" (though, I doubt I'd turn down a pour).

                    This thread has me really looking forward to tomorrow . . . .

                    1. re: MGZ

                      I haven't tried the 12, but the 7 1/2 was a bit subtle for my taste. This was a few years back, however; I'll give it another try as soon as I see a bottle for sale. Thanks for the heads up!

                      1. re: davis_sq_pro

                        I'm with DSP on this one. I just bought a bottle of 7.5 yo because I couldn't find the BIB. It *is* subtle -- too subtle for me, even neat. I finished my BIB last night, so I can't directly compare, but my impression is that I'm going to mix some Calvados into my cocktail to get more appley goodness. I had to try three stores to find even the 7.5. It was around $30.

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                        1. re: EvergreenDan

                          What kind of Calvados are you using? I've only ever owned one bottle -- Daron Fine -- and it was even more subtle than the Laird's 7.5. I didn't enjoy it AT ALL in cocktails and ended up using it for cooking. I figure I should try some others and broaden my horizons.

                          1. re: davis_sq_pro

                            Odd. I've had a few bottles of Calvados. I happen to have the same one -- Daron Fine -- now, and that's what I used to punch up the Laird 7.5. It has a lot of apple / calvados flavor. The Laird is quite subtle. I've heard great things about Dupont, and I have a bottle that I'll open when the Daron is gone.

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                2. re: davis_sq_pro

                  Here's a drink I just happened to discover that uses apple brandy, combined with rye whiskey. Looks really good. I think I'll make one tonight. You know, just to verify that it's safe to consume.

                  Winter Waltz (found here:


                  1 oz. rye whiskey
                  1 oz. apple brandy (Hannah suggests Calvados or Laird’s Bonded applejack)
                  1/2 oz. Averna
                  1/4 oz. St. Elizabeth's Allspice Dram
                  Ice cubes
                  Tools: shaker, strainer
                  Glass: cocktail
                  Garnish: star anise pod (optional)

                  Combine all ingredients with ice and shake. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish.

                  Chris Hannah, Arnaud’s French 75 Bar, New Orleans

                    1. re: davis_sq_pro

                      Interesting that it's shaken. Maybe the particulate matter in the amaro and allspice dram calls for capturing air bubbles on them to lighten the drink. Sounds pretty good.

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                      1. re: davis_sq_pro

                        Drinking it now. Pretty good. Slight bitterness from the Averna, spice from the rye (used Wild Turkey), and lots and lots of allspice -- which kind of dominates the drink. I can't detect any apple flavor.

                        Enjoyable, but quite sweet in typical New Orleans style. Not sure I'd rush to make it again.

                        1. re: davis_sq_pro

                          I wondered about the sweetness. Maybe drop the Allspice to 1/2 to 1 tsp and add some dry vermouth or sherry?

                          1. re: EvergreenDan

                            I think the sherry might add a bit too much flavor to the already crowded mix but the dry vermouth sounds like a great idea to me. I'll give it a try in the next few days and report back... unless you do it first.

                      2. re: davis_sq_pro

                        So this is what I went with. I couldn't find Laird's but found a brand made here in NC (bottle is at home, forget the brand). I made the first one and tasted it and almost spit it out. Someone suggested making a new one without bitters. Tried that. Took a sip. Opened a bottle of red wine and had a fabulous Thanksgiving! Thanks all.

                        1. re: southernitalian

                          Hm. I can't imagine how the drink could have come out so badly. A couple of diagnostic questions:

                          A) Did you try the apple brandy straight? Is it an aged straight spirit? Or is it one of the sweetened cordials that some lower-end manufacturers label "brandy?"

                          B) Did you use fresh vermouth? What brand?

                          1. re: davis_sq_pro

                            No, I can't blame the cocktail. Other people loved it. My sister who loves Compari really enjoyed it. it just wasn't my thing.

                      3. Another option could be something with Pomegranate juice (or fresh pomegranate seeds) - I hate to be brand focused but honestly POM pomegranate juice is my favorite.

                        Vodka - Pomegranate juice- Ginger liquor - orange bitters - few seeds for garnish

                        Light - colorful - seasonal - good palate fresher