Friday, November 16, 2012

The Merry Pilgrim

Thanksgiving dinner calls for an American lager or pale ale or perhaps a mellow pinot noir and gewurztraminer, but sometimes it's prudent to begin America's best holiday with a warm and wonderful injection of holiday spirit: a well-mixed cocktail. 

But Thanksgiving has a unique palate: savory, roasty, warm, sweet yet sincere, and satisfying. It's a full day of cooking and ovens and friends, a holiday well herbed and spiced. So perhaps a drink to complement those flavors is preferable to one that piles onto them. 

To me, a great Thanksgiving drink highlights that complementary minority of flavors, the tart cranberry, that only bright fruit that could refresh the northernmost New England people. 

A cosmopolitan? Too sweet, too citrus, too breezy for a heartfelt holiday about giving thanks. To drink vodka on America's most American holiday would be unthinkable. 

But bourbon! That's an American drink as American as apple pie and moonshine. The leathery, woody, savory-sweet warm spirit of the South mingling amicably with Maine's clean-living coldwater berry? 

The Merry Pilgrim

16 cranberries, chopped
1 tsp simple syrup (Don't Google it! 1 cup hot water + 1 cup sugar, dissolve, chill)
1 oz cranberry juice

1 oz bourbon (Wild Turkey for budgetary and thematic reasons, or: Maker's Mark, Woodford Reserve)
soak 15 minutes

then add:
1 oz cranberry juice
1 oz bourbon
3 dashes angostura bitters
stir (don't shake!)
strain with a fine strainer
pour and garnish with a few cranberries

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