Really, pretty much everyone needs or wants a drink at Thanksgiving. It’s the unfortunate truth that a little tipple helps you tolerate old Uncle Bob who will insist on regaling the table with his crazy conspiracy theories for hours on end. Thanksgiving is a holiday notorious for forcing people to be around others they would not normally tolerate but are regretfully related to, so a little alcohol can lubricate normally painful interactions. The key however here, is the word LITTLE—otherwise mixing alcohol and people you can’t stand is bound to end poorly with horribly hurt feelings and/or the cops. The following is a list of good alcohol choices or uses for Thanksgiving.
Lambic beers are a specific style of beer with several types but the fruit added lambics are some of the most commonly seen and excellent choices for Thanksgiving drink companions. In particular, the raspberry and cherry lambics go great with turkey. Samuel Adams offers a cranberry lambic every year that might be fun to offer guests. Lambics are known for their somewhat tart and sour taste. Combined with the fruit additions the beer is very sweet and sour, although some brands such as Lindemans are much more sweet than others (I’ve heard Lindemans framboise (raspberry) described as “liquid sweet tarts”). Lindemans’ lambics also have very nice looking labels and can add to a Thanksgiving tablescape or buffet.
Basting Turkey with Bourbon
Bourbon is an excellent addition to a Thanksgiving meal and can come in handy in many holiday situations. Basting a cooking turkey with bourbon gives it a very nice flavor. Just have a cup of bourbon next to the oven and when you baste the turkey with pan juices, throw a few tablespoons of bourbon in too. Of course, the baster may need some for themselves as well. A little for Tom, a little for you. Makes cooking turkey a hell of a lot more interesting. Bourbon is also a common ingredient for turkey glazes and gravies.
Pumpkin Beers and Cider
There are quite a few different pumpkin beers on the market. Most use spices reminiscent of pumpkin pies such as allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Some brewers add pieces of pumpkin to the mash, others add a puree of pumpkin, no matter how it’s made, pumpkin beer is a fun and unusual fall themed drink for this fall holiday. There are few drinks more associated with fall than cider. Shockingly many people have never had alcoholic cider and think of it only as a non-alcoholic fall kiddie drink. Hard cider is actually very easy to make if you wish to deeply impress your guests—although if you haven’t made it before, do a test batch a few months ahead of the holiday. There are excellent brands of bottled cider at any liquor store as well such as Woodchuck and Woodpecker.
Thanksgiving cooking with beer and wine
Beer and wine can add a great flavor to many elements of the Thanksgiving meal. The first use is before the turkey is even cooked as an addition to a brining solution. Brining a turkey means creating a solution of salt and spices which is used to soak the entire turkey (a thawed or fresh one) for up to 36 hours—24 hours is the usual recommended time—before cooking. Brining is kind of pain in the butt, especially if you don’t have extra refrigerator space because the turkey needs to be kept cool the entire soaking time, BUT it produces unbelievable results. To use beer, substitute a dark beer for water in the brining recipe. Brining produces a super moist turkey utterly unlike those dry stringy birds you remember from nearly every Thanksgiving. It may be a pain, but brining produces a transcendent turkey. Wine makes an excellent addition to gravy. Many chefs use a few tablespoons to cups (depending on how much gravy you are making) to “deglaze” a pan while making gravy. Deglazing basically means pouring a liquid—in this case wine—into a pan that has been used to cook something and still has all the little brown tasty bits (called “fond”) in it. The wine dissolves the fond or gets it unstuck from the pan and adds a tasty note to the resulting gravy. You can use either white or red wine for making gravy and port also works well.
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