Forget that headline. I kid. Thanksgiving has always been great. I mean, except the whole violently taking land from native people thing. Oh, and then there was last year when we were all still in shock and weeping on the reg due to the election results (which, by the way, I am still in shock and weeping somewhat regularly over that shit). But other than those few very minor mishaps, it’s a fabulous fucking holiday! There’s no religion, no gifts I have to pretend to like, and we get to eat ALL THE FOOD. But we all know food is way less fun without drinks to go along with it, hence my signature Thanksgiving cocktail, The Old Sage.
Now, thanks to a certain caffeinated beverage, made wildly popular by a certain Seattle-based coffee chain, pumpkin spice is widely considered the flavor of Thanksgiving. But for those of us who appreciate the holiday for its more savory and substantial offerings, we know that sage is the true taste — and scent — of the season.
The Old Sage has a hint and scent of sage, thanks to a super-easy sage simple syrup that gets mixed with Old Overholt Rye Whiskey, lemon juice, and Peychaud’s Bitters — which very subtly mimics some of the spices associated with the holiday.
It’s good. Like, get-Grandma-fucking-wasted-on-Thanksgiving good. I’m even going to go out on a limb and say it’s the best Thanksgiving cocktail in the world. In fact, it may be the only Thanksgiving cocktail in the world, but that’s probably not true at all.
And since Thanksgiving is now less than two weeks away (can you believe it?!) I’ll be serving this drink at my next Creativity + Cocktails event in Kansas City on Wednesday with The Object Enthusiast. Somehow there are still a few tickets left for that, so I’m offering $7 off the ticket price for whoever snags the remaining spots with the promo code CREATIVEAF. I’m able to do that because (BIG NEWS!) I now have a BOOZE SPONSOR! My neighbors and pals, Brookside Wine & Spirits, will be providing the Old Overholt for the event (and hopefully lots of other future fucking festivities), so if you live in the area, you can thank them by stopping in there for your next bottle.
THE OLD SAGE
2 ounces Old Overholt Rye Whiskey
2 ounces lemon juice
1 ½ ounces sage simple syrup
3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
Lemon slice for garnish
Sage leaf or sprig for garnish
To make the sage simple syrup, combine 1 cup white granulated sugar, 1 cup water, and ½ cup of loosely-packed fresh sage leaves in a saucepan over high heat. Mix well, and as soon as the mixture reaches a boil, remove from the heat and let it cool to room temperature. Strain out the sage leaves and store in a bottle or jar in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
To assemble the cocktail, add the Old Overholt, lemon juice, sage simple syrup, and bitters to a cocktail shaker or wide-mouth mason jar with ice. Shake the shit out of it, then strain into a double rocks glass filled with a handful of ice cubes or one large cube. Garnish with the lemon and sage, and enjoy!
It’s November! Which for me means the holidays are on. Like Donkey Kong. (Is that still a thing people say? No, no, I know it is not. Whatever.) Anyway, I am in full-on fall-as-fuck, festive-as-fuck holiday mode. And just in case you didn’t read, like, every caption that I’ve posted on Instagram for the last two months, Thanksgiving is the official holiday of Festive AF. I have so many Thanksgiving-themed drinks coming up for you, and boozy cranberry sauce, and table styling tutorials — and as long as I find the time and get my shit together, I might even get back to some DIY shit. For now, though, I wanted to give you this one last straight-up fall cocktail, the Sweet Apple Rye.
YOU GUYS. This fucking tastes just like apple pie. Not the bland kind you get from the grocery store, but like the thoroughly and appropriately spiced one that some lady at a farm stand makes and sells for cash only. Unlike apple pie, however, this does not feature the nauseating texture of mushy fruit. And while I do love a good crust, sadly, this drink is not served in a buttery, flaky pastry shell. But don’t you worry; it’s still packed with carbs.
As you’ve probably guessed from the name, the base of this drink is rye whiskey (which amazingly, has no carbs — don’t ask me how, it’s fucking magic!). I use Old Overholt for that most of the time. Next up, I used some local cider (the thick kind, definitely has carbs), followed by Barrow’s Intense ginger liqueur (more carbs), and St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram (probably a decent amount of carbs). A little lemon juice adds a nice tartness and plain-old ground cinnamon gives it that apple pie familiarity. Now because cinnamon is a spice, and not a crystal like sugar, it won’t dissolve in the drink, so you’ll see it floating in there — which I think is pretty damn cool — and if you drink it too slowly, it will all settle at the top.
About all those carb jokes I’m making? Well, this drink is sweet. There’s no getting around it. I’m not usually a fan of sweet drinks, and this just about maxes out my sweetness tolerance. But it’s really, really good, so I’m letting it out into the world. Of course, while playing around with this recipe, I also made an alternate version that’s less cinnamon-y and even more boozy, and ever-so-slightly less sweet, so look out for that one soon, too. In the meantime, enjoy this crustless, boozy apple pie in a glass.
Sweet Apple Rye
2 ounces rye whiskey
2 ounces apple cider
1 ounce ginger liqueur
½ ounce allspice dram
½ ounce lemon juice
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Candied ginger or cinnamon stick, for garnish
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker or wide-mouth mason jar with a handful of ice. Shake the shit out of it and strain into a double rocks or cocktail glass over a large ice cube or a fresh handful of ice. Garnish and enjoy (your diabetes, bitches).
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Guys, it’s “The Holidays.” I can say that now, right? Like, Halloween is basically almost over (j/k, I haven’t even figured out my costume yet), and soon every store will be playing Christmas music and you’re probably already packing for wherever you’re going for Thanksgiving and OMG, how is it already 2018? Anyway, here’s your printable November 2017 calendar, available now as a free digital download, and much later than I intended to get it to you. Oops. Sorry.
Yet again, this calendar may look slightly familiar, because aren’t all calendars just a bunch of blank boxes that make you feel like, hey, this is going to be a new month, and I’m going to get my shit together THIS month? That is, until you start writing down shit and get to, like, the fifth, and realize, “Oh, I have a job-job now, and freelance, and a blog I do for fun [read: no money], and a toddler, and I haven’t shaved my legs or washed my hair in a week and I’m never getting a pedicure ever again.” So, yeah, I borrowed a few elements from the September calendar, but I also added some other stuff like acorns and feel-good doodles that you’d see on some basic-ass dish towel that says “Grateful.”
As always, the calendar is free, and as you probably know by now, the only catch is that you need to “buy” the digital file from my store. But you don’t have to pay any money or give any credit card info or anything like that. And I promise I won’t sell your email address, or stalk you, and I think if you create an account it makes it really easy to download it next time.
In exchange for this free item from my shop, the only thing I ask is that you follow me on Instagram. ‘Cause it’s FESTIVE AS FUCK TIME. That’s like Peanut Butter Jelly Time, but with scented candles and boozy cranberry sauce and gold flatware and homemade stuffing with two sticks of butter.
And, really, don’t forget to follow me on Instagram. (We’re on the honor system here. Don’t be a dick. And it’s basically the fucking holidays.)
I love gimmicky halloween cocktails as much as the next weirdo. OBVIOUSLY. They’re a fun first round, but you don’t always want to drink them all night. Enter The Bitter Brain, which definitely sounds a little gimmicky, but could pass as a regular-ass drink any time of year. The only gimmick here, really, is the brains part — booze-soaked raisins. And they’ll only be booze-soaked if you take your time and sip this shit, which shouldn’t be hard since it’s strong, and fairly bitter.
Okay, I just said it was fairly bitter but it’s definitely not too bitter. It’s really well balanced, and inspired by two cocktails I love — the Toronto, which was originally created to highlight Canadian whiskey, and the Bitter Old Coot, a drink I try to have every year on my birthday at Justus Drugstore in Smithville, MO. Like those two, my drink relies heavily on rye whiskey and Fernet-Branca (a bitter herbal liqueur), then gets a few dashes of Angostura Bitters as well as orange bitters (which Angostura also makes), plus a little simple syrup. And then there’s the raisins. Ugh. Raisins.
Now, I normally don’t put raisins in drinks (or anything, ever) because they’re fucking disgusting. But Halloween is all about gross shit, and without these shriveled, boozy little pellets, this cocktail would just be called “The Bitter” — which, now that I think about it, would actually be a really great name for a bar, but but not for a drink. But if you like raisins, you’ll probably like how booze-soaked they’ll be at the end if you don’t slam this thing. And if you really, really like raisins, go crazy, friends. Put seven raisins in there. Or seventeen. It’s your fucking party. Or your night alone on the couch with the porch light turned off so nobody bugs you while you try to catch up on Scandal (which is really extra horrible this season; I’m not caught up, either).
The Bitter Brain
1 or 3 or 17 raisins
2 ounces rye whiskey
½ ounce Fernet-Branca
¼ ounce simple syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 dashes orange bitters
Add the raisins to the bottom of a coupe glass, then add the liquid ingredients to a mixing glass with a handful of ice. Stir until it’s well chilled, then strain into the glass and enjoy.
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Hey! My spooky Halloween cocktail, Red Rum, is featured in the current issue of BUST Magazine. You know it: It’s the one with Sarah Silverman on the cover. And even though I probably shouldn’t, I’m sharing it here because I’m a fucking nice person, and you know, content, SEO, yadda-yadda, blah-blah-blah. Plus, I wanted you to get a good look at that bitters murder scene I created.
Anyway, whether you’re hosting a haunted get-together or just want something boozy to sip while you avoid the neighborhood kids and watch scary movies alone in the dark, you should most definitely treat yourself to a Red Rum or two on Halloween. A spicier take on a classic Dark and Stormy, it’s made with spiced rum and ginger beer, but instead of the traditional lime wedge, it’s garnished with a round orange slice and a clove (to resemble a pumpkin, of course). For a frightening finishing touch, it gets doused with blood (er, Peychaud’s Bitters).
It’s a little spooky, pretty spicy, and balanced enough to be your go-to drink this fall. And I know I’m just giving you this entire amazing recipe for free, but you should still totally pick up the current issue of BUST to support independent feminist publishing and give cool chicks (cats? thirty-something tattooed moms?) like me something fun to read. I wrote for BUST, like, a decade ago, so I’m all kinds of excited to have one of my recipes grace its pages again.
Makes 2 cocktails
4 ounces dark, spiced rum
2 whole cloves
Cut two round slices out of the orange that are slightly smaller than the rim of your stemless wine glasses and set aside. Add a single squeeze of orange juice to the bottom of each glass along with a quick dash of bitters. Add two ounces of rum to each glass, followed by a handful of ice. Fill the glasses almost to the top with ice-cold ginger beer, and stir gently. Put the pointy end of one clove into the center of each orange slice, then gently place a slice, clove side up, on the top of each cocktail. Just before serving, generously douse the orange slices with more bitters.
A note on the ginger beer: Be sure to use a flavorful one, and definitely don’t try to substitute ginger ale — otherwise you’ll end up with some watered-down shit that doesn’t taste very fun or festive.
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