The perfect cocktail for Thanksgiving

Packed with spicy, earthy, sweet and refreshing flavors, this cocktail compliments the bird, the pie, and all the sides served in between. (WTOP/Rachel Nania)

WASHINGTON — Thanksgiving is here, and chances are you have a plan for what’s going on the plate. But what about the glass?

Morgan Kirchner, whiskey adviser and bartender at Jack Rose Dining Saloon, has a cocktail that’s perfect for Thanksgiving dinner. Packed with spicy, earthy, sweet and refreshing flavors, her recipe complements the bird, the pie, and all the sides served in between.

Plus, its pale pink hue will add a welcome splash of color to your holiday spread.

A few things to note before you break out the shaker: This cocktail calls for ginger syrup. Kirchner said you can usually find the ingredient in grocery stores and liquor stores, or you make your own by cooking fresh ginger with water and sugar before straining and bottling the mixture. (Epicurious has a simple recipe on its website.)

If you’re expecting a crowd, there’s no need to shake made-to-order cocktails for hours on end. (There are enough hosting tasks to tackle on Thanksgiving, as it is.) The recipe can be “batched out,” or made in advance and served from a punch bowl or pitcher.

Just remember to set an ice bucket out so guests can enjoy the cocktail cold. To avoid sage leaves floating in the final product, Kirchner recommends infusing the sage with the ginger syrup (bring the ginger syrup and the sage leaves up to a simmer so the flavors mingle), before mixing in the other ingredients.

Also, if you can’t get your hands on apple-cinnamon mead (Kirchner uses the Baltimore brand, Charm City Meadworks), you can make an apple cider reduction. Pour 1 ounce of apple cider into a pot and reduce the liquid by half for a thick and concentrated apple flavor. The substitution will alter the flavor profile of the final product, but Kirchner said it will still be tasty.

Sage and ginger Thanksgiving cocktail
Makes one drink

1.5 ounce vodka
0.5 ounce fresh lemon juice
0.5 ounce ginger syrup
0.5 ounce Charm City Meadworks apple-cinnamon mead
1 dash Angostura bitters
4 sage leaves

Place three sage leaves in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. If you have a muddler at home, you can muddle the leaves. Otherwise, a vigorous shake later in the process will be enough to release the herb’s oils.

Add in the vodka, lemon juice, ginger syrup, mead and bitters. Then, add in ice. Top the cocktail shaker and shake the mixture until the outside of the shaker is frosty and cold to the touch. (Shake too long and you could end up with a diluted drink.)

Fill a rocks glass with ice, and strain the cocktail into the glass. Kirchner recommends double-straining the drink using a Hawthorne strainer and a tea strainer to ensure no sage leaves escape.

Garnish the cocktail with a fresh sage leaf. A quick slap to the leaf wakes up the herb’s aromatics and enhances the drinking experience.

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