Give Your Thanksgiving Guests What They Really Want: Cocktails
We got Ezra Star, the general manager of Boston’s award-winning Drink, to share two delightful drink recipes to pair with turkey and pumpkin pie.
Thanksgiving is just days away, and whether you’re tasked with hosting the big feast or making small talk with your distant relatives, your stress level is no doubt rapidly rising.
Not to add to your to-do list, but have you thought about what you’re going to drink on the big day? Beer and wine are the standards, since they’re easy but Boston bartender Ezra Star thinks you should reconsider.
“I feel like when you have beer or wine it’s pretty straightforward—it tastes good or doesn’t taste good and it doesn’t require a tremendous amount of thought,” says Star, general manager at the city’s award-winning bar, Drink. “But if you’re having a cocktail with a meal, it’s going to transform it. It’s going to give a little extra moment that you don’t expect.”
So try her Far From Plymouth, which is designed to be served alongside turkey. Star says it has the “tone” of cranberry sauce, with a blend of gin, cranberry syrup, rooibos tea, and bergamot liqueur.
The drink even comes with a conversation starter: “There’s a theory that one of the first gins to ever come to the United States was Plymouth Gin,” says Star. The gin is named for Plymouth, England, where it’s still made today in the Black Friars Distillery, a former monastery and the region’s oldest working gin distillery. Coincidentally, the port of Plymouth is also where the Mayflower set sail for America.
She wanted to create a cocktail that incorporates ingredients that the Pilgrims actually brought with them but with a more modern cranberry flavor. The drink also cleverly employs all the necessary elements of an 18th-century punch: citrus, tea, spirit, sweetener. It can be made in single servings or batched in a pitcher or punch bowl.
After dinner, Star suggests fixing her Baba Rum cocktail, which is named for the traditional European dessert that is sprinkled liberally with rum. She wanted the drink to go well with a slice of pumpkin pie, but also transcend the holiday’s standard baking spice notes, so she included anise, fennel, and Szechuan peppercorns.
“The five-spice syrup adds a little heat that’s cooled down by the texture of the pumpkin,” she says. A touch of Scotch hints at a pie crust, while the absinthe provides a bright high note.
“I’m very lucky that my job is to make drinks, play music, and entertain people—and when you’re entertaining people [at home], you’re doing basically the same thing,” says Star. “You’re inviting people into your space and welcoming them, and cocktails work so well for that. It’s something you’re making for them as a gift.”
So even if your turkey is slightly overdone and the green bean casserole is burnt around the edges, you’ll likely be more forgiving if you have a delicious cocktail in hand.
- 1 oz Plymouth Gin
- .5 oz Italicus Bergamot Liqueur (you can also use lemon juice)
- .5 oz Cranberry syrup*
- .5 oz Red Tea syrup*
- .5 oz Lemon juice
- 3 oz Dry sparkling wine
- Glass: Cocktail or flute
- Garnish: Cranberries on skewer
Add all the ingredients, except for the wine, to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into a cocktail glass or flute. Top with the wine and lay the skewer of cranberries across the top of the drink. Serve with turkey.
*Cranberry Syrup: Add 2 cups finely chopped fresh cranberries with 2 cups fine grain white sugar and .5 teaspoon of salt in an airtight container. Shake container to coat the fruit. Let the mixture sit overnight. Then add 2 cups cold water and stir to dissolve the sugar and run through a blender. Strain through a large tea strainer.
*Red Tea Syrup: Steep rooibos tea as directed, then add sugar in equal parts by volume. Stir until dissolved.
- 1.5 oz Plantation 5-Year Rum
- .5 oz Lemon juice
- .75 oz Five Spice Syrup*
- .25 oz Dewar’s White Label Blended Scotch Whisky
- 4 dashes Absinthe (preferably Kübler)
- Glass: Old-fashioned
- Garnish: Nutmeg
Add all the ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into an Old-Fashioned glass filled with fresh ice. Top with some freshly grated nutmeg, and serve alongside pumpkin pie.
*Five Spice Syrup
- .5 cup Granulated sugar
- 1 cup Water
- 1 Tbsp Honey
- 2 Tbsp Star anise
- 1 Tbsp Fennel seed
- 1 Tbsp Szechuan peppercorns
- .5 Tbsp whole cloves
- 1 Cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
Add the spices to a small saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until fragrant (about 3 to 4 minutes). Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and steep for an hour. Strain and bottle. Keeps for 2 weeks. Produces about 1 cup.