What the Alcohol Professors are Sipping!
The staff of The Alcohol Professor pick their favorite wine, beer, spirits and cocktails for the holiday! We include some great cocktail recipes to help inspire you!
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I made a pact with someone not to drink any Christmas beers until Thanksgiving, and Christmas beer season in one of my favorites.
Richly flavored winter warmers leave their flavors on your tongue all evening, and you drink them in the company of great people. I am a Clevelander, so Great Lakes Brewing Christmas Ale is tops on my list. My brother led me to Anderson Valley’s Winter Solstice a few years ago, and I have not looked back.
Breckinridge Christmas Ale is also a favorite I would recommend to have in the fridge this time of year. I will not be with my family in Cleveland this year, so I will indulge in the Petro family tradition of a Jim Beam and ginger ale highball on Turkey Day. Cheers to all of our readers for the holidays!
Lustau Solera Reserva Brandy. I admit to knowing little about the world of brandy, but I know what I like.
This inexpensive ($23!) Spanish brandy is bold and unrelenting in its full-on attack of sweets. Chocolate, crème brulee, hazelnut, and caramel play nicely with the grapes and a hint of apricot. It gets dry, woody, and orange zesty on the back end. What it lacks in subtlety it more than makes up for in being the brandy equivalent of a five-course dessert menu.
After trudging home through unseasonably freezing weather, this is a good, good friend to have waiting for me as I don my smoking jacket, sink into my easy chair, and while away the icy evening reading sophisticated literature (Lando Calrissian and the Mindharp of Sharu).
I’ll be raising a glass of Sparkling Apple Spritzer this Turkey Day. Even though I usually go for wine or a cocktail with vodka or gin,
I’ve developed an appreciation for brown booze after sampling tasty craft offerings from new distilleries in the D, such as Two James or Detroit City Distillery.
I recently did a feature on fall entertaining for Hour Detroit magazine and one of the featured chefs, Kate Williams, who is opening two highly anticipated restaurants in the city, shared this tasty, seasonally appropriate cocktail that “combines all my favorite things: freshness from the fruit, effervescence from the cider, and a potent punch from the vermouth and whiskey,” Hernandez says. (See recipe next Note.)
Sparkling Apple Spritzer
1 lady apple, half juiced, half sliced for garnish
4 ounces whiskey
1 ounce dry vermouth
2 dashes bitters
1 cup sparkling apple cider
Fill a large cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Add fresh apple juice, whiskey, vermouth, bitters, and apple cider. Shake. Strain into two glasses. Garnish each with an apple half or slice.
courtesy Great Flood Brewing
I’ll likely be kicking it local over Thanksgiving, which is to say I’ll be snuggled up with a growler or two of local beer —
likely an ale such as the balanced and hoppy Defiant Double IPA from Great Flood Brewing or the Hoptricution imperial IPA from Apocalypse Brew Works. Yes, since I live in Louisville, Ky., people usually assume I’ll be sipping bourbon, but I prefer hops to corn most days.
And since the weather is projected to be mild, I won’t need a warmer. That said, if the weather does get dicey, I can always skip over to Jeffersonville, Ind., for a growler of Flat 12 Bierwerks' Pinko Russian Imperial Stout. It’s aged in Pappy Van Winkle 23 year barrels, so your taste buds get the best of both worlds. Either way, my mouth will be thankful.
My favorite Thanksgiving discovery would probably be Gun Hill Brewing Company’s Void of Light.
It’s got an ABV of 7.9% and has a nice chocolate taste and velvety feel. I first discovered it at Alphabet City Beer Co.
This Thanksgiving, I’ve decided to throw tradition out the window and try on something new for a change.
I’m heading to Churchill Downs — home of the Kentucky Derby — for a day of racing, wagering, eating and, of course, drinking the track’s famous cocktail, the Mint Julep.
Bourbon, simple syrup and mint go quite well with fall’s colorful foliage, and nothing warms your spirit more than a nip of Kentucky bourbon, such as Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve (gold medal winner, 2014 NY International Spirits Competition), or of course, Wild Turkey!
The Mint Julep
Photo courtesy Sara Havens
I intend to serve something a bit more contemporary for my holiday guests.
This slightly spicy, seasonal, shaken twist on the classic Manhattan formula is a perfect quick-fix for any festive occasion.
The Boston Post
2.5 oz/74 ml Rye Whiskey
.25 oz/7.4 ml Ginger Liqueur, such as Barrow’s Intense
1 bar spoon orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier or Bauchant
.5 oz/15 ml Cranberry Juice (Ocean Spray’s 100% Juice gets my recommendation over sugar filled “cranberry cocktails”)
Dash of Regan’s Orange Bitters
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass with ice, shake well, strain into a chilled highball glass. Add a single ice cube. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Since there’s so much activity during the holidays, I like to keep it simple. I’ll sip a great American whiskey, such as the new Balcones French Oak or a good pale ale such as the one from Bronx Brewery.
I love to sip a satisfying, zippy beer as I cook and I’ve just been turned on to Innis & Gunn Toasted Oak IPA, which gets my tastebuds all a-flutter (the brewery also won Scottish Brewery of the Year in the 2014 NY International Beer Competition.)
At the main event over at my folks’ place, as the guests filter in and the final details are being set in the kitchen, we often start with a fizzy punch I call the Welcome Distraction, made with sparkling wine, bourbon, apple brandy, pie spiced syrup and fruit (recipe at the end).
Amanda Schuster (Continued)
During the meal we’ll open some fine American wines from my dad’s collection. Some of them have been kept for several years, probably longer than most would ideally wait to drink them
(don’t get me started) and it’s been amazing to taste what would be considered “everyday” wines that have some age on them. We’ve discovered that Pride Mountain Viognier is fantastic with my mom’s chestnut soup, and pinot noir from Oregon’s Panther Creek is a great match with the main dishes.
Also, those zinfandel blends from Ridge really go the distance – we drank one last year from the 70s and it had definitely oxidized a tad, but there was still some lively fruit and spice to it, highly drinkable!
From everyone at Alcohol Professor, we wish you a happy and safe Thanksgiving! Cheers!
The Welcome Distraction
(A.K.A. the Late Autumn Spiced Sparkling Punch)
Originally Posted here.
2 750 ml bottles sparkling wine such as Prosecco, Cava, Crémant de Bourgogne or NV American sparkler such as Gruet Brut. Our pick is Enza Prosecco NV, a medalist in the 2013 NY International Wine Competition.
375 ml Bourbon. (Of course, the most obvious pick would be Wild Turkey!)
175 ml (about ¾ cup) Apple Brandy or Calvados. Our pick is Laird’s Applejack.
78 ml (about ⅓ cup) Pie Spiced Simple Syrup (recipe follows)
Sliced seasonal citrus such as oranges, tangerines, clementines and/or kumquats (mix it up or use only one kind.)
Recommended: Freeze small bowl or coffee mug of water overnight to make a giant ice dome, which will keep the drink chilled, but impart less water into it as it sits out than regular ice. Large ice spheres or cubes would also work.
Add all the liquids into a punch bowl and give it a good stir. Add sliced fruit. Grate the nutmeg. Just before guests arrive, add the ice. Ladle away!
Pie Spiced Simple Syrup
1 Cup Water
1 Cup Granulated or Demerara Sugar
3 Cinnamon Sticks
5 Dried Allspice Berries
3 Cardamom Pods
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. On medium heat, bring to just the point of bubbling. Lower heat and simmer uncovered until sugar dissolves and mixture coats the back of a spoon, about 15 – 20 minutes. Strain and let cool. Keeps in refrigerator for about 1 week.
Wishing you a kitchen disaster-free and happy Thanksgiving!