Serving a “House Cocktail” as guests arrive sets a welcome and festive tone. Bourbon is the quintessential American liquor and the perfect complement to Thanksgiving, the quintessential American holiday! Rosemary provides a seasonally appropriate fall accent. Best of all, it’s an easy and delicious start to Thanksgiving. If you are a guest this Thanksgiving, consider providing this House Cocktail for your host because easy home entertaining is a team sport. You can mix it all ahead of time and bring in a pitcher along with some rosemary sprigs and lemon slices. All your host needs to provide are the glasses and ice.
There is no real substitute for fresh lemon juice though Whole Foods carries a jarred Lemon Juice product in the juice aisle that is acceptable. Under no circumstances use jarred Real Lemon available in standard supermarkets. Typically lemonade is made with equal parts lemon juice and simple syrup but this recipe backs off some of the syrup, thus the “sour.” Caution: This spiked “lemonade” goes down very easily.
Thanksgiving Bourbon-Rosemary Sour
2 cups fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups rosemary syrup (See recipe below)
1 1/2 cups bourbon
Rosemary sprigs for garnish plus for rosemary syrup recipe below
8 lemon slices — seeds removed
Note: The juiciness of lemons is very variable. As a result, it is difficult to tell you exactly how many lemons you will need to make 2 cups of fresh lemon juice. I needed 8 lemons. They were unusually juicy. You may need more.
In a pitcher or other convenient pouring container, combine lemon juice, rosemary syrup and bourbon. Mix well. Fill glass with ice. Pour 1/2 cup mix into each glass. Stir well. Garnish with rosemary sprig and lemon slice. The half cup of mix per drink includes 1 1/2 ounces of bourbon so do not over-pour. Encourage your guests to savor and not slug.
Rosemary Simple Syrup
1 cup + 2 Tb sugar
1 cup + 1 oz water
4 sprigs rosemary
Yield 1 1/2 cups syrup
In a small pot, combine sugar and water. Simmer over moderate heat until sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally, about 1–2 minutes. Add rosemary. Simmer for 3 — 5 minutes until rosemary wilts and gives up its color, then remove from heat. Cool for at least one hour or overnight. Strain out rosemary before using. Store in refrigerator.
There are six syrup recipes in At Home on Page 44 along with a tip on using Simple Syrups. One Thanksgiving dessert we are serving on Thursday is roasted pears basted with a syrup sweetened with honey as well as sugar and spiced with star anise, cardamom and coriander seed. See our complete menu below.
Five or six rosemary sprigs, about 20 to 25 total inches of rosemary. You will also need rosemary sprigs to garnish the drink.
When you start, the rosemary will be stiff and the leaves a strong green as pictured above. Simmer sprigs in syrup until they wilt and give up their bright color and turn somewhat khaki-colored. Take care to just simmer slowly. Leave the sprigs in syrup until ready to use. Strain out sprigs before using syrup.
Our 2012 Thanksgiving
Lots to be thankful for this Thanksgiving — not the least of which is the recent election result. We are enjoying Thanksgiving at home with our extended family. Christina’s brother Larry and my son Noah will help with selected dishes and pitch-in with turn-out. Christina will take care of getting our apartment ready and setting our table. We still have to do our wine shopping. I will do the flowers on Wednesday.
I am in good shape with my advance preparation — confident I will get at least one relaxed hour before guests arrive Thanksgiving Day. Probably more. Saturday I finished most of my shopping at the Rittenhouse Square Farmers’ Market and made cornbread. Since for me shopping is a pleasure, I started my Sunday at the Headhouse Farmers’ Market. Sunday is my watch football while preparing my gravy day. I prepare my do-ahead gravy with turkey legs and finish it with the pan juices after the “real turkey” comes out of the oven on Thursday. (The food prep part was infinitely more fun than watching the Eagles!)
On Sunday, I also made the base for the ice cream that I will freeze Monday, the syrup for the roasted pears, peeled the celery root and sliced and rinsed the leeks for the gratin, prepped the turnips and carrots, peeled and sliced the kohlrabi, toasted the pinenuts for the kale, grated the cheese for the gratin, as well as made the sausage and vegetable components for the cornbread stuffing that I will combine on Wednesday. One last thing: I crumbled and toasted the cornbread to give it a nuttier flavor than simply baked cornbread.
Our At Home Thanksgiving 2012 Menu
Shaved Cauliflower & Fennel Salad
Diver Scallops “Sashimi” with Confetti of Granny Smith Apples
Roasted Baby Carrots & Hakurei Turnips
Gingered Cranberry-Onions Relish
Renaissance Chicken Sausage, Chanterelle & Cornbread Stuffing
Smashed Kubocha Squash with Confit of Onions — Larry is making this from last week’s NY Times Food Section
Gratin of Leeks & Celery Root
Sautéed Dinosaur Kale with Pinenuts & Raisins
Ginny’s Pumpkin Pie
Commissary Pecan Pie
Roasted Pears with Star Anise, Cardamom & Coriander Seed
Burndt Orange-Caramel Ice Cream with Sea Salt