Easy Peasy Drinks to Make for Thanksgiving and All Your Other Holiday Parties

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It’s that time of year again. Not only is it Thanksgiving, it’s Thanksgiving during a election year, meaning that you’re probably feeling salty towards at least some of your friends and relatives or perhaps they’re feeling salty towards you! What will ease the anguish you’re experiencing as you mentally prepare yourself to share a meal with your loved ones?

A drink that’s what!

Ok, so now you realize you have to make drinks for a whole bunch of people, AND you’re feeling salty. What to do?

Keep it easy man! Today, I’m gonna give us a few large-format cocktails that will work for all the upcoming holiday parties and give you a lil peace of mind. Ready? Let’s go.

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Firstly, you could set up an Old Fashioned Station for your guests to help themselves. This is a great idea cause build-your-own-drinks tend to be a hit at parties! You could get a couple different kinds of spirits (Bourbon, Rye, Aged Rum, Apple Brandy, Añejo Tequila, Mezcal, Brandy, etc), different types of sweeteners or a mixer like the excellent Cocktail Crate Spiced Old Fashioned Mixer, an assortment of Bitters, garnishes and let the people do what they want!

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A sparkling wine cocktail: This one is easy cause you can batch your modifiers (like Apple Brandy + Cinnamon Syrup, Angostura Bitters) ahead of time, pour them into the glass and top with prosecco. Donezo!

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Bottled Negroni: This one is almost a no-brainer. Make a bottle sized Negroni, let it hang out in the bottle for a few days and serve as an aperitivo. Super duper easy and the Negroni is a perfect drink to cut through all those heavy foods you’re about to consume.

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4. Punch. Duh. This is by far my fave format for large parties cause Punch is the most communal cocktail of them all. I’ve created many Punch recipes but my two favorites are…

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Winfred Bumbry Punch: This Punch uses Irish Whiskey, two kinds of Rum, Ruby Port, Lemon Sherbet, and Nutmeg. It’s fabulously tasty and was a home run at last year’s Friendsgiving.

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DD’s Cider Punch: this Punch features mulled apple cider, two kinds of Rum, Allspice Dram, Benedictine, and Lemon Sherbet. (If you haven’t noticed, Sherbet is essential in a proper punch.)

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See, that was so easy! Cheers and hope y’all have loads of fun during the holidays!

 

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Drinking with Mad Men Season 7: Old Fashioned

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Hello and Happy Father’s Day 2016. My dad is a Wine Guy but on a recent trip to visit me in NYC, we discovered that he’s an Old Fashioned Guy too! This post was written during my send off to the show Mad Men and contains a few Old Fashioned recipes that every dad can enjoy. Cheers!

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To celebrate “The End of An Era”, welcome to a series of drinks from the television show Mad Men. Each week I’ll be featuring a different cocktail from the show, so we can all drink along with our favourite Madison Avenue Ad-men and women.

As I write this post, I’m drinking an Old Fashioned and re-watching the very first episode of Mad Men. I can’t really put into words how much this show means to me. This is actually the first time in my life that I’ve followed a show to the very end while it was on air. Mad Men is my Sopranos and I really hope Matthew Weiner writes a knockout of an ending.

In the first scene of S1E1, Don establishes his iconic drink of choice with the phrase, “Yeah, we’ll do this again. Old Fashioned please.” Then he drinks them over and over and over again throughout the show. I would even say that along with many of other Classic Cocktails back in vogue, Don Draper put the Old Fashioned on our minds.

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Mad Men Don Joan Old Fashioned

Both images via AMC.

The thing about the Old Fashioned it that is the original cocktail and to me, that says a lot about Don Draper. It says he likes to keep things simple. He wants to be respected. He is a whiskey man like many other people from farm country. He likes to present a persona of being classic and is attached to a certain time period.

According to historical records, the first written mention of the word cocktail included a definition that it “should be a potent concoction of spirit, bitters, water and sugar.” Well, we have our recipe, let’s start with the most classic version of an Old Fashioned.

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Ingredients: Water, Bitters, Sugar, Barspoon, double Rocks glass. 

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Old Fashioned

  • 2 oz Rye
  • 2 dashes Angostura or Aromatic Bitters
  • barspoon Sugar or 1 Sugar Cube
  • 1/4 oz Water
  • Garnish: Maraschino Cherry and Orange peel

Build in double Rocks glass:

  1. Add Sugar, Water and Bitters to glass and stir until sugar is nearly dissolved.
  2. Add Rye and stir until everything has mixed properly
  3. Add ice and stir until proper dilution has been achieved (around 10 seconds)
  4. Add Cherry, express Orange peel and garnish

Mad Men Modern Old Fashioned

Image via AMC

In the photo above, Don is muddling a Cherry into his Old Fashioned and even adds Soda Water to the drink before he stirs it. This scene actually caused quite a stir amongst the Cocktail community because “it was a gross Old Fashioned! Never muddle the fruit! No Soda Water ever!” Y’all, come on, let the people do what they want to do with their fruit. Besides, there is actually a Modern Old Fashioned with muddled fruit in it.

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Simple Syrup, Bitters, two Cherries, one Orange wedge, muddler and double Rocks glass.

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Modern Old Fashioned

  • 2 oz Rye
  • 1 dash Orange Bitters
  • 1 dash Angostura Bitters
  • ~1/4 oz Simple Syrup (less if your Orange is really sweet)
  • 2 small Orange slices
  • 2 Maraschino Cherries

Build in double Rocks Glass:

  1. Add Simple Syrup, Orange Slices, Cherries and muddle.
  2. Add Rye, Bitters, and ice and stir until proper dilution has been achieved.

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Now let’s talk about other Old Fashioned options including one of my favourites, the Cocktail Crate Spiced Old Fashioned. I’ve written about these mixers before and I will write about them until the end of time because they are INCREDIBLE. The Spiced Old Fashioned mixer is truly delicious, it tastes just as delicious as a classic Old Fashioned and is very simple to make.

HINT: BUY THIS MIXER.

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Cocktail Crate Spiced Old Fashioned

  • 4 parts Whiskey
  • 1 part Mixer
  • Garnishes: Orange peel and Maraschino Cherry

Build in glass:

  1. Combine ingredients over ice and stir.
  2. Add Cherry, express orange peel and garnish.

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Recommended types of bitters for your Whiskey Old Fashioneds.

Back in Nov 2014, I wrote a post about how Old Fashioneds are the best kind of drink to make when hosting a big party because you can use so many types of Spirits, Sweeteners, Bitters and Garnishes. Check it out if you’d like to make a few with Aged Rum, Añejo Tequila or Apple Brandy.

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Well, like pensive Don having an Old Fashioned in Hawaii, I shall be be awaiting the end of this magnificent show. Bye Bye Mad Men!

If you’d like to peruse the other Mad Men cocktails I’ve written during this last season, check them out here.

Hosting in the Holidaze: The Old Fashioned

Ok, so it’s Holiday times and you are probably wondering which cocktails to make for Thanksgiving, Xmas, Chanukah, Boxing Day and all those damn parties you’re going to have between now and New Years Eve. Don’t drive yourself crazy, just make some Old Fashioneds!

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I swear to you, the last three parties that I’ve made cocktails at have included variations on the Old Fashioned and everyone just loved them. It’s such an easy Cocktail to make and you can have so much fun with the ingredients! Plus, you can use any spirit you want in an Old Fashioned! Well, except for Vodka, yuck, don’t ever do that.

The best thing about an Old Fashioned is that no matter what you use in it, the Formula stays the same:

  • 2 oz Spirit
  • 1 barspoon Sweet/1 lump of sweet
  • 2 Dashes of Bitters
  • 1/4 oz Water
  • Garnish
  • Build-in-glass: Add Spirit, Sweet, Bitters, Water, and stir until Sweet is nearly dissolved. Add ice, stir until Cocktail is well chilled, and garnish. Drink. Repeat.

Here are five Old Fashioneds to keep your guests happy and praising your Home Bar Skills:

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Rye Old Fashioned: This is the Cocktail that started it all. No seriously, the Old Fashioned is actually the first drink that can be considered a cocktail. The drink got its name toward the end of the 19th Century when bar patrons were asking for a drink “the Old Fashioned way”. That Old Fashioned Cocktail was a drink consisting of Whiskey, Sugar and Bitters. Its modern equivalent is what you see above: Rye Whiskey, Angostura Bitters, Sugar, Orange Peel and/or Maraschino Cherry.

Rye Old Fashioned:

  • 2 oz Rye
  • 1 Barspoon Demerara/Turbinado Sugar
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • 1/4 oz Water
  • Orange Peel and Cherry garnish

Build-in-glass: Add Rye, Sugar, Bitters, Water, and stir until Sugar is nearly dissolved. Add ice, stir until Cocktail is well chilled, and garnishes.

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Bourbon Old Fashioned

  • 2 oz Bourbon
  • 1 Barspoon Brown Sugar
  • 2 dashes Orange Bitters
  • 1/4 oz Water
  • Orange Peel garnish

Build-in-glass: Add Bourbon, Sugar, Bitters, Water, and stir until Sugar is nearly dissolved. Add ice, stir until Cocktail is well chilled, and garnish.

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Apple Brandy Old Fashioned

  • 2 oz Apple Brandy
  • 1 Barspoon Maple Syrup
  • 1 dash Black Walnut Bitters
  • 1/4 oz Water
  • Maraschino Cherry garnish

Build-in-glass: Add Apple Brandy, Maple Syrup, Bitters, Water, and stir until Maple Syrup is nearly dissolved. Add ice, stir until Cocktail is well chilled, and garnish.

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Añejo Tequila Old Fashioned

  • 2 oz Añejo Tequila
  • 1 Barspoon Agave Nectar
  • 2 Dashes Orange Bitters
  • 1/4 oz Water
  • Orange Peel garnish

Build-in-glass: Add Tequila, Agave, Bitters, Water and stir until Agave is nearly dissolved. Add ice, stir until Cocktail is well chilled, and garnish.

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Aged Rum Old Fashioned

  • 2 oz Aged Rum
  • 1 Barspoon Brown Sugar
  • 2 dashes Bittermens Elemakule Tiki bitters or Angostura Bitters (island spiced bitters)
  • 1/4 oz Water
  • Lime Wheel garnish

Build-in-glass: Add Rum, Sugar, Bitters, Water, and stir until Sugar is nearly dissolved. Add ice, stir until Cocktail is well chilled, and garnish.

*BONUS ROUND: Try to do a 50/50 split on the Spirit. I love to do Gin/Bourbon or Gin/Rye for the split. Apple Brandy/Bourbon also works really well together.

Good luck to you with all your Hosting in the Holidaze!