Cooking all day and sipping on a well-crafted cocktail go hand in hand. It’s what makes those long hours spent chopping, sautéing, and roasting so much fun. And on Thanksgiving it’s perfectly appropriate to pour your first drink at 10am as you’re gearing up for the important task ahead. A few good tunes and a healthy buzz will not only get you into the rhythm of cooking, it will reduce any anxiety you may feel about your chosen dishes. I find myself looking forward to my time in the kitchen just as much as the grand reveal of the finished Thanksgiving day spread.
This year my signature cocktail was inspired by a local distillery's flagship gin. According to the handsome gin rep pouring samples at the liquor store, James River Distillery’s Commonwealth Gin is made with hops, a growing trend in the craft-distilling world. It was love at first sip - the gin had strong citrus and herbal notes, with the juniper playing second fiddle. I was surprised that the hops didn’t add any bitterness but instead infused a subtle floral flavor.
I immediately bought a bottle and created a modern version of the foghorn, an old-timey drink that has fallen out of vogue. I spruced up the classic gin-and-ginger cocktail with a bit of jalapeño for warmth, fresh cranberry for a tart kick, and a splash of cherry juice for color and a sweet finish. Now that I have every detail of my holiday meal planned and a good cocktail recipe in my back pocket, I’m ready for the biggest cooking day of the year. Remember to have fun in the kitchen, because it’s more about the journey than the destination.
Spicy Ginger Cran-cherry Cocktail
- 1 small slice of jalapeño
- 7-8 fresh cranberries (reserve 3 for garnish)
- 1 wedge lime (about 1/6 of a lime)
- 1 ounce gin (I used Commonwealth Gin from Richmond, VA)
- 5 ounces ginger ale or ginger beer
- Splash of cherry juice
- Dehydrated lime slice for garnish (from Simple and Crisp)
Place the jalapeño slice, 3-5 cranberries, and lime wedge in a glass and muddle with 1 ounce gin. Strain gin into a rocks glass with ice. Add 5 ounces of ginger ale and top with a splash of cherry juice. Garnish with 3 cranberries and dehydrated lime.