Thanksgiving (or Fall) Cocktails ~ Keep it cozy and warm with these cold-weather drinks and fall-flavored cocktails BUT be sure to keep them away from the kids' table!
Here's a delicious way to ward off cold weather: Serve hot cider spiced like an apple pie. Season your cider with the same spices you would use in a pie-cinnamon, allspice, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg-then heat it up. If you'd like, pour in brandy for adults. Add a cinnamon stick to each mug for stirring. Servings: 6
1 1/4 quarts apple cider
3 tablespoons firmly packed light-brown sugar
7 whole cinnamon sticks, (6 sticks for garnish)
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup Calvados, or other brandy (optional)
Directions: In a medium saucepan, whisk together cider, sugar, spices, and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Remove from heat; pour in brandy, if desired. Strain into a pitcher; discard solids. Serve in mugs, garnished with cinnamon sticks.
Toast the bounties of the Thanksgiving table with cocktail in hand. There's something for everyone in this collection of festive drink recipes that includes hot ciders, crowd-pleasing sangria, sparkling wine cocktails, and nonalcoholic beverages. This cocktail uses smooth, homemade pear-infused vodka that can be made months ahead of time. Pear nectar sweetens the drink while club soda lends it sparkle; homemade rosemary syrup adds a seductive aroma. Yield: Makes 8
6 to 10 Seckel pears
4 cups (32 ounces) vodka
1 cup sugar
12 sprigs fresh rosemary plus more for garnish
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) pear nectar
4 cups (32 ounces) sparkling water
Directions: Put enough pears into a 48-ounce glass jar to fill. Add vodka. Seal jar, and let stand at room temperature 2 weeks (up to 2 months). Heat sugar and 1 cup water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Add rosemary; remove from heat. Let stand 30 minutes. Discard rosemary. Let cool completely. Syrup can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 1 month. Fill 12-ounce glasses halfway with ice. Add 4 tablespoons vodka, 2 tablespoons syrup, and 3 tablespoons pear nectar to each. Top with 1/2 cup sparkling water. Serve garnished with rosemary sprigs.
The apple-ginger sparkler is sparkling cider spiked with ginger and cinnamon. Servings: 6
1/4 cup Ginger Syrup
4 1/2 cups sparkling apple cider
6 cinnamon sticks
6 pieces crystallized ginger
Directions: Place 2 tablespoons ginger syrup in each of six glasses. Fill glasses with ice cubes, pour in cider, and stir to combine. Garnish with cinnamon sticks and fresh ginger, and serve.
Give guests a warm welcome with this brandy-spiked mulled wine. Servings: 4
1 bottle (750 mL) light-bodied red wine (such as Beaujolais)
3 ounces brandy
1/2 cup sugar
6 whole cloves
4 strips lemon zest (3 inches each)
2 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise
Directions: Bring red wine, brandy, sugar, cloves, lemon zest, cinnamon sticks, and star anise to a simmer in a saucepan, covered, over high heat. Remove from heat; steep for 10 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve. Ladle into 4 mugs; garnish with fresh lemon-zest strips.
Star anise, cinnamon, and cloves perfume this honey-sweetened white-wine sangria filled with fall fruit, including apples, pears, and kumquats. Serve this mulled drink either hot or cold. Servings: 12
1 cup water
1/2 cup honey, preferably orange-blossom
Zest of 2 lemons, cut into long strips
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
4 whole star anise
4 cinnamon sticks
12 whole cloves
2 bottles dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
1 cup orange Muscat, such as Essencia
1 Golden Delicious apple, cored, halved, and thinly sliced
1 Bartlett pear, cored, halved, and thinly sliced
2 lemons, preferably Meyer, thinly sliced crosswise
12 kumquats, thinly sliced crosswise
Directions: Bring water, honey, lemon zest and juice, star anise, cinnamon sticks, and cloves to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, and cook for 15 minutes. To serve cold: Mix spice mixture, wines, and fruit in a large pitcher. Cover, and refrigerate overnight. Transfer to a large punch bowl, and serve with ice. To serve hot: Heat spice mixture and wines in a large pot over low heat until heated through. Add fruit, and divide among mugs.
A classic cosmopolitan -- vodka, cranberry juice, and orange liqueur -- is dressed up for the season with homemade Cranberry-and-Orange Vodka, a garnish of fresh cranberries, and an orange twist. Yield: Makes 1 cocktail
1 1/2 ounces Cranberry-and-Orange Vodka
1 1/2 ounces cranberry juice
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 ounce orange-flavored liqueur, such as Cointreau
Orange peel, for garnish
Cranberries, for garnish
Directions: In a cocktail shaker, combine vodka, cranberry juice, lime juice, orange liqueur, and ice; shake until well combined. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Twist orange peel over cocktail and add to glass. Garnish with skewered cranberries; serve immediately.
Cinnamon sticks and fresh ginger infuse this nonalcoholic cranberry-orange cider. Simmer the juices and spices to meld the flavors, and serve hot. Servings: 8
2 quarts cranberry juice
4 three-inch cinnamon sticks
2 two-inch pieces fresh ginger, peeled and sliced lengthwise
Sugar, to taste
Directions: With a vegetable peeler or a sharp knife, remove four 3-inch-long strips of peel from orange; set aside. Juice orange, and strain out pulp. In a medium stockpot, combine orange juice, reserved orange peel, cranberry juice, cinnamon sticks, and ginger. Taste, and add sugar if desired. Heat over medium-high heat until simmering. Reduce heat to low; simmer 20 minutes. Strain, and discard solids. Serve hot.
An earthy, sweet pear-cider cocktail is tinged with whiskey -- a perfect drink for a cold day. Servings: 8
2 cups pear nectar, chilled
2 cups sparkling apple cider, chilled
2 cups seltzer, chilled
4 ounces (1/2 cup) bourbon whiskey, such as Knob Creek
1 Bosc pear, unpeeled, cored, and cut lengthwise into 8 wedges
Directions: Stir together pear nectar, cider, seltzer, and whiskey in a pitcher. Divide pear wedges among glasses, and pour in cocktail. Serve immediately.