The Gratitude Cocktail

We were sitting here thinking what would be involved in the ideal Thanksgiving cocktail. Naturally, it would have to include Wild Turkey. We wanted something that would invoke the herbs, spices, and sweetness of a properly satiating Thanksgiving meal. It also made sense to add Applejack, one of our favorite add-ins for Autumn cocktails in general, and cardamom bitters would give us the spiciness we were looking for. We also remembered that we had some blackberry thyme shrub in the fridge still, and that would be the veritable cranberry sauce on the Wild Turkey.

As it happened, we had made a cocktail earlier in the evening using some fresh rosemary from the yard as a garnish, and we decided to leave the rosemary in the glass, more out of laziness than creativity. However, the nose of the rosemary, along with the thyme in the shrub, turned out to be the perfect herbal component for this Thanksgiving potion. A little Cynar, an artichoke-based apertivo, added some additional herbal bitterness we needed, and a splash of sweet vermouth tied it all together.

IMG_20131127_195030_305The Gratitude Cocktail

  • 1 ounce Wild Turkey 101
  • 1 ounce Applejack
  • 1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 1/2 ounce Cynar
  • 1 teaspoon blackberry/thyme shrub

Stir and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary.

This was honestly right up there with the best cocktails we’ve ever concocted. A great deal of labor went into the creation of each ingredient. We are grateful we had ready access to such rich, decadent fare. We are grateful for the cocktail education that led us to keeping each of those ingredients in our stock. We are grateful for the bounty of this drink. It has truly lived up to its name.

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Fall Cocktails

Fall Harvest

In response to Joey Schmidt’s recent post about Pumpkin Spice tiki drinks (and the general pumpkin spice craze that seems to hit everywhere around this time of year), we are re-posting this story from last fall that includes our Pumpkin Spice Sour.

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While seeking inspiration for the Fall Cocktails seminar we taught last week, we thought of three things we definitely wanted to use: Applejack, homemade Old Tom gin, and pumpkin.

We’ve said before that we really enjoy using Applejack in our cocktails in the fall. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Applejack is technically a brandy made from apples, though it drinks more like a whiskey than a brandy. Before prohibition, Applejack and strong cider were the the primary products for which apples were grown. Applejack has been making a gradual comeback in recent years.

The Laird’s company of New Jersey is the oldest and most prominent distiller of this product. Their 80-proof blended Applejack is the only variety available in here in Alabama. Out of state, you can get several others including our favorite, the Laird’s Bottled-in-Bond Straight Apple Brandy. There are also a few other companies that make similar products. In France, they make an apple brandy called Calvados, which is quite different in character from Applejack, but it is interesting to switch them out in recipes to see how they play with others.

We paired the Applejack with an equal amount of our Old Tom, which you can find the recipe for here. We’ll spare you the “History of Gin” lecture here since you’ll get most of it if you follow that link. Our Old Tom is heavy with baking spices, especially cardamom and clove, with a hint of orange peel, making it an exquisite partner for the Applejack. We added Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, a little cranberry juice, and bitters to round out the drink, which we decided to call Autumn Spice.

Autumn Spice

  • 1 ounce Old Tom Gin
  • 1 ounce Applejack
  • ½ ounce Domaine de Canton
  • ½ ounce cranberry juice
  • 3 dashes aromatic bitters

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass filled ¾ with ice. Stir to desired dilution. Strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a lemon peel.

We knew we wanted to make a pumpkin spice syrup. Everybody’s crazy about pumpkin spice these days, it seems. But unlike whatever is in your corporate cappuccino, we wanted to use actual pumpkin. We used a sugar pie pumpkin, baked the meat, and then pureed it in the blender. You can also use canned pumpkin puree, but where’s the fun in that?

Pumpkin SourPumpkin Spice Syrup (adapted from themessybaker.com)

  • ¾ cups water
  • ½ cup granular sugar
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground clove
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 cup pumpkin puree

Add water and sugar to a small saucepan. Set over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Add pumpkin puree and spices. Whisk to combine. Reduce heat to medium low for five minutes, whisking frequently. Remove from heat and let sit to cool. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth. Bottle and store in the refrigerator.

We tried this syrup in a variety of drinks, but our favorite was a variation on a classic whiskey sour.

Pumpkin Whiskey Sour

  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • 1 ounce pumpkin syrup
  • ½ ounce lemon juice
  • ½ ounce egg white

Pour all ingredients into a shaker. Shake without ice until you feel pressure building in the shaker. Add ice and shake again. Strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice.

For more Fall cocktails, see here, here, and here.