Thanksgiving Cocktails: One Drink for Each Course of the Meal

Yes, we consider "relatives arriving" to be a course.
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Thanksgiving tends to be so focused on eating that the drinks often become an afterthought.

This is a shame, as the right drinks can add extra pizzazz, help the food go down easier, and make dealing with relatives much more manageable. Following are three Thanksgiving drink ideas for each course of the meal: the first for when your guests arrive, the second for the meal’s beginning, and the third for when the meal is done.

The Seelbach Cocktail
A bubbly number, this drink is a classy start to a big meal and has a doubling up of bitters that helps you eat without fear. It was originally served in the pre-prohibition years at the Seelbach Hotel in Louisville, which is a good mid-meal story. The recipe’s from Champagne Cocktails:

Pour 1 ounce bourbon, 1/2 ounce Cointreau, and 7 dashes each of Angostura and Peychaud’s bitters into a flute glass. Stir briefly. Fill the flute almost to the top with chilled Champagne or sparkling wine. Stir again, slowly. Garnish with an orange twist.

The Kick-Off
On Thanksgiving, football is celebrated as much as food, so starting a meal with this cocktail makes lots of sense. The fact that it also has spice/herbal combo that’ll stand up to your aunt’s stuffing is a bonus. The recipe’s from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz:

Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add 1 ounce gin (Sound Spirits Ebb+Flow works nicely), 1 ounce dry vermouth (I suggest Dolin), 1/4 ounce anisette, 1/4 ounce Bénédictine, and 2 dashes Angostura bitters. Stir well. Strain into a cocktail glass.

The Gizmo
The ultimate in after-Thanksgiving dinner drinks, this mix helps to use up some of those never-ending leftovers. The recipe’s from Good Spirits, but was originally developed by Seattle-area bon vivant (and host of many hearty Thanksgiving affairs) Jeremy Holt.

Fill a cocktail shaker half way with ice cubes. Add 2-1/2 ounces gin, 1 ounce homemade cranberry sauce, and 1/2 ounce simple syrup. Shake exceptionally well. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Photo from Champagne Cocktails, copyright 2010, Harvard Common Press and Jerry Errico.