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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Okay, maybe “waste” isn’t a great word. But leaves, sticks and pine cones are all perfect items for your homemade tablescape, as the combination of natural elements and gold strike the perfect festive balance for winter holiday decor.
Anyway, it really doesn’t matter how you do it — you can paint three leaves or 30 — but here are a few ideas to get you started.
Collect different shapes and sizes of dried leaves or pinecones and spray paint them all gold. Scatter or arrange them around a candle or vase to add a touch of nature and glam to your holiday tablescape.
Gather fallen branches of a similar length and girth. Sand them if they’re rough, then add a festive pop by painting a few of them white or gold. Arrange horizontally around a candle holder or put them upright in a vase. A twist on this would be to coat an old jar or can with gold spray paint, then put a combination of natural and white painted sticks in it.
Add a little color to your rustic spread by putting fresh herbs or holiday buds in a vase or milk jug.
Want to make it even more interesting? Spray paint half of whatever you have, or a third. Or tape off a portion of your leaves or sticks diagonally before you paint. Mix it up however you’d like, because no matter what you do, it’s likely going to look like something out of a magazine (because it’s really hard to screw up this DIY!).
You can do this. I believe in you.
These images originally appeared in my Buzzfeed piece, 9 Surprisingly Easy Ways To Make Your Thanksgiving Table Look Better.
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.)