Whether you call it a “shrub” or a “drinking vinegar,” there’s no denying that when you mix fruit with vinegar and sugar, and then mix that shit with booze and club soda, you get a really fucking great cocktail. It’s sweet, it’s tart, it’s boozy, and it’s bubbly; what’s not to love? In this particular case, the fruit is cranberries (because, hello, Thanksgiving is less than a week away!) and the booze is Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon. I won’t waste your time going on about shrubs or the fact that Thanksgiving is the official holiday of Festive AF — because Thanksgiving is six fucking days away (have I mentioned that yet?) and you need to get your ass in gear. So, without further ado, my cranberry shrub recipe.
With this recipe, you’ll get about two cups of shrub mix that will keep in a mason jar in the fridge for up to two weeks (but I’m willing to bet it will disappear on or before Thanksgiving). The mash also makes for a really good non-boozy cranberry sauce (you can find my boozy version here).
2 cups fresh cranberries
2 cups sugar
2 cups white balsamic vinegar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cardamom
Combine the cranberries, sugar, and vinegar in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir it well, and let it reach a boil (it will get all kinds of foamy and shit on top). Reduce the heat to low, add the cinnamon and cardamom, stir, and let the mixture simmer for about 10-15 more minutes. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine mesh sieve (using a spoon to get all the juices out), and let it cool completely.
Cranberry-Bourbon Shrub Cocktail
I think this cocktail is at its best with equal parts shrub, bourbon, and club soda, but feel free to play with the ratios to suit your taste. You can also eliminate the bourbon for a festive Thanksgiving mocktail.
Fresh cranberries and/or rosemary sprig for garnish
To assemble the cocktail, stir together equal parts chilled shrub mix and bourbon. Add one large ice cube, or a handful of regular cubes, then top off that shit with a heavy pour of cold club soda. Garnish with fresh cranberries and/or a sprig of fresh rosemary and enjoy!
Thanks to my new booze sponsor/sugar business, Brookside Wine & Spirits, for providing the Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon for this recipe. If you live in Kansas City, go see them for your next bottle (and tell them I sent you!).
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Are you hosting Thanksgiving this year? Did you know it’s only 10 days away? Are you freaking the fuck out yet? If the answer to those questions (or at least the first and last) is “yes,” I’m here to help you calm the fuck down. I’ve been hosting Thanksgiving for years (like, 15 of them, I think) and it’s really not so bad. I mean, I’m not gonna lie to you. There’s a lot of work and planning involved. And if you, like me, can’t keep your house Instagram-clean to save your life, then (also like me) you should probably hire someone to come over and take care of that while you attend to more important matters, like stocking up on booze and ordering your turkey. But, seriously, I’m going to share with you some of my Thanksgiving hosting tips — including a handful of things you can do now — to make that shit go smoothly.
Here are 10 things you can do, seven to 10 days out, to get your ass (and your house) ready for Thanksgiving. And if this list seems a little sweeter than what I usually write, it’s because I’ve cobbled together some of the many similar pieces I’ve written for other publications over the years. Of course, I threw a few “fucks” in there for you, too.
10 Thanksgiving Hosting Tips – Shit to Do Ahead of Time
1. Get a head count.
Is your cousin is bringing her new boyfriend or did she already drop his ass? Are your mom and stepmom both going to be there? And maybe also your dad’s first wife who’s your half sister’s mom? (Asking for a friend.) I don’t really care who you invite, but getting a headcount now ensures you’ll have enough time to borrow tables, chairs, and whatever other furniture items you need so everyone can eat comfortably, and then have a place to lounge when the tryptophan-wine combo sets in.
2. Order your turkey.
Please tell me you’ve ordered your turkey. If you haven’t ordered your turkey, what the fuck are you waiting for?! Order your fucking turkey. Yes, like, right now. Call your butcher or Whole Foods or other fancy fucking grocery store and order your heritage breed whatever turkey. Like, don’t even read the rest of this post. Just go order your fucking turkey already. You can safely assume you’re going to need about a pound of turkey per person. And then, you know, more for sandwiches.
3. Plan your menu.
You should have a rough idea of what you’re going to serve for the holiday meal. I mean, there’s turkey (I hope, if you fucking ordered it), green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, stuffing, etc. Now it’s time to decide how many pounds of Brussels sprouts you’ll need and how you’re going to prepare them. Are you going to brine your turkey? What kind of rolls are you serving? Are you making pies or asking someone else to bring them? Make all of those decisions, and then make a shopping list based on the recipes for each dish.
4. Get help.
Unless you’re independently wealthy and happen to employ a kitchen staff, no one expects you to prepare the entire Thanksgiving dinner yourself. Doing so would take away from the spirit of the holiday, anyway. Remember that it’s more than okay to ask your guests to bring something. And if they can’t cook, ask them to bring wine. And even though you probably don’t employ full-time kitchen help (and if you do, why aren’t we friends?), and you’re doing this solo, ask a friend or family member to come over in the morning and help. This person should also bring you coffee and be willing to make last-minute trips to the store — because there’s no way you’re going to remember everything.
5. Shop till you drop.
You don’t want to be cursing locals at the liquor store the day before Thanksgiving, do you? (I mean, we’ve all done it but it’s not incredibly becoming.) Get as much shopping done as you can done now, while you can still do it with equal parts ease and dignity. Load up on non-perishables and, more importantly, booze. The last thing you want to run out of on Thanksgiving is beer and wine. Seriously.
Once the food runs out (or people have eaten as much as they can, in the first round, anyway) your guests will want to sit around and drink for as long as you will let them. And while it’s absolutely acceptable to ask each one to bring a bottle of wine, as the host, you should have some extra on hand. Plan on at least a bottle of wine per adult, and don’t worry about getting expensive stuff. Your guests will bring that, and after a few bottles, wine is wine, right?
What else you can buy now:
- Frozen vegetables
- Cranberry sauce (if you’re using the canned stuff, but it’s so easy to make fresh)
- Paper products (paper towels, napkins and, yes, extra toilet paper)
- Dried spices and herbs
- Bag for your turkey if you plan to brine it
6. Beg, borrow and steal.
Okay, maybe don’t steal, but is your home equipped with everything you need to prepare and serve Thanksgiving dinner? Are you sure? Do you have a stock pot big enough for boiling 15 pounds of potatoes? Or enough plates for dinner and dessert? What about wine glasses, chairs and serving pieces? Though a gravy boat is optional, if not antiquated, you’re going to need all the rest. If you don’t have a large stock pot, borrow one from your mom or a co-worker or neighbor. And if you find you can’t borrow everything you need, think about hitting thrift stores for kitschy, vintage finds. I took this picture (and all the images in this post) a few years ago for a BuzzFeed Thanksgiving table styling piece, so it’s a little outdated (and I have an updated Thanksgiving table styling post coming soon!), but you really can do quite a bit with mis-matched thrift store dishes.
In a few days, you can start worrying about this other shit:
7. Practice if you need to.
While you certainly don’t need to practice roasting a 12-pound turkey (that shit would get expensive and take up too much room in your already packed fridge), if you’ve never roasted poultry before, it might be worth your while to get a small chicken or turkey from the grocery store and brine it, baste it, and taste it. And if you’re planning to make some crazy side dish, why not try it out a week ahead of time?
8. Keep shopping.
At about a week out, it’s safe to buy almost everything you’ll need for your Thanksgiving dinner, including:
- Sweet potatoes
- Garlic (keep it in the fridge)
You’ll want to hold off for a few more days on produce like Brussels sprouts, green beans and whatever other fruit and green or leafy vegetables you’ll be using. But you can totally make your cranberry sauce now.
Oh, and buy more wine. You’ll thank me later.
This one might seem like a no-brainer, or might not apply to everyone. Or maybe you’ve already taken my advice and hired someone to clean for you. Either way, you’re going to have a lot of people in your home — maybe your parents will be there, or your in-laws. Start cleaning now, so you’re not tripping over a mop bucket to get to your turkey on Thanksgiving morning. That shit is stressful.
10. Check in with your guests. One more time.
Is your mom still bringing pecan pie? Is your sister still making her green bean casserole? OK, just checking.
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It will probably not surprise you to learn that at my house, the alcohol flows freely on Thanksgiving. And when I say freely, I mean that shit sometimes runneth over into the food. In this case, it’s my micro-famous Grand Marnier cranberry sauce. (It’s appeared on the Internet a few times. That qualifies as micro-famous, right?)
For this super-simple recipe, fresh cranberries, sugar, and a touch of lime get a generous shot of Grand Marnier, an orange-flavored cognac liqueur. The sweetness and slight acidity of the Grand Marnier — which is added toward the end so it doesn’t completely cook out — is the perfect complement for tart cranberries.
It doesn’t get more fucking festive than that, now does it?
Grand Marnier Cranberry Sauce
Yield: About 1 Pint
12 ounces fresh cranberries
¼ cup water
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon lime juice
½ cup Grand Marnier
Add the cranberries, water, and sugar to a saucepan over medium heat, stir, and let it cook until the cranberries are soft, and bright-red foam has formed, about 15 minutes. Mash the cranberries with a wooden spoon (which will be stained red forever, fucking deal with it), reduce the heat to low, then add the lime juice and Grand Marnier. Mix well and let it simmer until it has reduced to a sauce-like texture, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lime zest.
This Grand Marnier cranberry sauce can be made ahead of time, stored in a mason jar with a lid (or similar sized air-tight container), and refrigerated for a week or two, so make that shit well ahead of time so it’s one fucking less thing you have to worry about when you’re rushing around the day before Thanksgiving. Also, you can plop it right out of the jar into a log just like you can with the cans so don’t you worry about that.
Thanks to my new booze sponsor/sugar business, Brookside Wine & Spirits, for providing the Grand Marnier for this recipe! If you live in Kansas City, go see them for your next bottle.
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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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