I mentioned in my last post that I had been put in charge of cocktails for Thanksgiving. After scouring some of my favorite sources for cocktails online, I decided to attempt the following:

  • Rosemary infused vodka with cranberry simple syrup and seltzer
  • Whisky sours with homemade sour mix
  • Bourbon with vanilla pear nectar and hard cider

While the cranberry simple syrup was easy to make and delicious, the rosemary infused vodka was a medicinal-tasting disaster. In the name of quality control, I made several different versions of the cocktail, but no matter the ratio of vodka to cranberry simple syrup to seltzer, nothing was even slightly palatable. So now I have a huge bottle of rosemary infused vodka taking up an unsightly amount of room in my freezer because I can’t quite bring myself to throw away booze.

The Whisky Sours and Bourbon cocktails were much more successful (i.e., drinkable). Despite some not very flattering words on the subject of Whiskey Sours in Esquire, I’ve always liked this drink. The problem is the store-bought sour mix. It’s usually an unholy shade of yellow or green and is more sickly sweet than refreshingly sour.


For my sour mix, I juiced five mandarin oranges and a bag each of lemons and limes. All this equaled out to about 3 cups of juice. As I like the taste of my Whiskey Sour to reflect the spirit of the name, I only used a 1/2 oz (or less – honestly, I kinda just eyeballed the amount) of simple syrup. Had I thought of it beforehand, agave nectar or honey would both be excellent substitutes for the simple syrup. One thing I did not alter was the use of maraschino cherries. I ever-so briefly entertained the idea of using black cherries from Trader Joe’s, but  it seemed sacrilegious. My mother made her really? face, but I ignored her and stuck to my guns.

The Bourbon cocktail was even easier. I scraped the seeds of a vanilla bean pod into a bottle of Looza pear nectar and let it to infuse overnight (I also left the pod). Before serving it, I strained the nectar. Depending on the request of guests, I mixed equal or not-so equal parts of bourbon and pear nectar, poured it over ice and topped it with a floater of hard cider. I used Crispin’s Honey Crisp (made with organic honey and delicious over ice) and The Saint (made with Trappist Yeast and Organic Maple Syrup). The recipe that inspired me (from dear old Martha) called for sparkling non-alcholic cider, but if there’s ever a holiday that calls for making the drinks strong, it’s Thanksgiving (and Christmas and St. Patrick’s Day and Halloween and Easter and Arbor Day . . .)


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