Boozing on Thanksgiving. It’s as American as football on Thanksgiving.
The problem is that most Americans do not pace themselves. And that’s why, as Uncle Pat knocks back his third martini, you get all those cliches about Thanksgiving and arguing about politics.
But Thanksgiving need not debauch into alcohol-inspired name-calling or hippie-bashing. This is, after all, the chief holiday in which we gorge ourselves on food. Meaning, we coat our innards with the kind of complex carbohydrates that can keep your blood-alcohol content in the safe zone — even if there’s a cocktail in your hand all day.
So here’s how it’s done (insert boilerplate disclosure about drinking responsibly, listen to your body, etc.).
9:00 a.m., Mimosa
Good morning! Is the parade on yet? No? Time for a mimosa. The good news is that this is the easiest cocktail to concoct. Fun fact: There is no “recipe” for a mimosa, and anyone who tells you otherwise is pretentious. Just take orange juice (any will do) and champagne (or sparkling wine, again, any will do) and pour them together until the colour seems right to your sleep-crusted eyes.
10:30 a.m., Thanksgiving Tom Collins
Now that you’re awake, time to veer into the Thanksgiving theme. No, not a “pumpkin pie martini.” That’s just silly. But it doesn’t mean you can’t embrace the time of year. Here’s a great recipe for a holiday-inspired Tom Collins (using the cranberry sauce waiting in your fridge): “Shake two ounces gin, one ounce simple syrup, one bar spoon cranberry sauce and half an ounce of lemon juice. Strain into a Collins glass with ice and top with club soda.” Delicious.
12:30 p.m., Beer
When the Packers/Lions kicks off, that’s your sign to switch to beer for the next few hours. The unfortunate truth in modern America is that many have a bad case of pumpkin fatigue by Thanksgiving. Consider avoiding the pumpkin ales you did not avoid during September and October. They are too filling, and you’ll want to fill your pumpkin quota on the pie. Good beer options:
- Deschutes Jubelale. Earthy feel with fruit and spice. Will make you feel safe and thankful.
- Kelso Nut Brown Lager. Malty, crisp, with notes of chocolate and friendship.
- Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale. Some beer snobs hate on America’s second-largest craft brewer seemingly because other people know about it. But Sierra Nevada has great seasonal beers, and this one has the kind of citrus and pine flavours you’d expect from a strong IPA.
- Miller High Life. Simply the best cheap, poundable beer out there. They don’t call it “champagne of beers” for nothing, folks. Pairs well with football.
5:00 p.m., The whiskey family
Back to liquor we go. A Manhattan with rye makes for a nice pre-dinner beverage. Here you just want to take your go-to drink and upgrade it slightly for the holidays. Maybe spring for a nicer bottle of scotch or get dad to bring one. Or if you’re on a budget, Deadspin’s Will Gordon has a great list of the 10 cheapest bourbons, ranked.
8:00 p.m., Wine with dinner
This is probably where you have the least amount of control. When you go to someone’s house for dinner, you drink what’s there. For the sake of argument, the Village Voice actually interviewed some sommeliers who had recommendations. Such as:
Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Meursault “Les Narvaux” 2011, Burgundy, France – This is one of the top young producers in Meursault producing wines with incredible clarity and minerality. The texture is full in the mouth, but the acidity is high, leaving your palate refreshed. This wine would be dynamite with stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes and turkey, because it’ll play on any baking spices used, any butter used, anything roasted, and will refresh the palate in between each bite! If only the pilgrims knew about Meursault!
Palo Cortado Sherry, Jerez, Spain or Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France (or both!) – With the main course, I have made it a habit to now serve both a Palo Cortado sherry and a Rhone red, usually Châteauneuf-du-Pape. I think it’s great to go back and forth between the two wines. It also helps me introduce sherry to friends and family, which is selfish as I just want them to drink more sherry with me!
10:00 p.m., Coffee with booze in it
There aren’t a ton of socially acceptable times to put booze in your coffee, but on Thanksgiving it’s OK. Take advantage. Throw some bourbon in your decaf with a little cream. It will help you digest (maybe)!
12:00 a.m., Water
Repeat as necessary.
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