Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Happy Hour: Thanksgiving!

By the time you read this, I will be on a plane, on the way to meet my boyfriend's family for the first time and spend Thanksgiving with them. The last time I visited a boyfriend's family, I'm pretty sure I didn't pee for like four days because, I don't know, excusing myself seemed like the most awkward thing ever, and what if I got lost on my way back from the bathroom and had to just kind of wander around from room to room, clearing my throat excessively loudly?

Anyway, I'll be limiting my liquid consumption these coming days to only what can fit in a Monopoly thimble, so have an extra one of these Thanksgiving-y, autumny cocktails for me, will ya?

(What are you doing for Thanksgiving? Will you be drinking these with your mother-in-law or maybe with her and also before she arrives? Let's tell stories about drinking with family in the comments!)

Sandeman Ciderhouse Sangria
1 bottle of Sandeman Founders Reserve Port
24 oz apple cider
3 oz rye whiskey
1.5 oz maple syrup
2 Granny Smith apples
2 pears

Directions: Dice apples and pears and set aside. Mix all remaining ingredients together in pitcher. Add apples and pears. Let sit for at least 8-12 hours (or overnight).

Hot Gin Punch
3 parts Beefeater Gin
3 parts port wine (I vote for Sandeman Tawny or Ruby)
6 parts pear juice
1 part lemon juice
3 cloves
A pinch nutmeg (grated)
1 teaspoon of cinnamon (powder)
4 teaspoons of sugar (brown)
2 pears (thinly sliced)

Directions: Mix all the ingredients in saucepan and place on the heat. Let the mixture simmer without boiling for a few minutes. Add honey and lemon to taste. (And feel free to add your own favorite spices during the simmer stage!)

Pumpkin Pie Martini
2 parts ABSOLUT Vanilia
1 dash cinnamon syrup
1 part milk
1 dash pumpkin smash
1 dash sugar, superfine

Directions: Fill a shaker with ice cubes. Add all ingredients. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Bee Sting
Created by John Gertsen of Boston’s Drink
2 parts Beefeater 24 Gin
½  part Lemon Juice
½  part Honey Syrup (1:1 with water)
12 Peppercorns

Directions: Muddle peppercorns in shaker. Add rest of ingredients and ice, shake, and strain into a cocktail glass.

Cinnamon Sparkler
1.5 oz Kahlúa Cinnamon Spice
3 oz Sparkling Apple Cider
Small squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Directions: Shake Kahlúa Cinnamon Spice and lemon over ice. Top with sparkling apple cider. Grate nutmeg on top.

Previously: St. Germain Is the Best.

Diana Vilibert is a freelance writer and drinker living in Brooklyn, and no one is paying her to say any of this.

Image of Sandeman Ciderhouse Sangria via Sandeman

90 Comments / Post A Comment

wasabi peas

That can't be right.I don't see Qream used in any of these drinks.

dracula's ghost


I come from a storied line of loud racist republican Texan alcoholics on my mother's side (father's side are quiet, progressive, democratic Texan teetotalers: match made in heaven), and since about the age of 20 excessive drinkery has characterized every single one of my Christmas memories. My grandparents have had 3-5 tequila drinks (starting promptly at 5:00) every single night since I believe the late 40's. Sometimes this leads to horrendous fights about Barack Obama or how the Tiannemen Square Massacre represents "one less chinaman in the world" and is thus a good thing (true story). Other times the booze leads to a sort of hysterical good cheer and we end up laughing super hard, singing christmas carols, playing charades and getting into screaming arguments about it, and by the end of the night at least one person has cried (usually my cousin, but I won't lie, it's been me before too) because my grandmother has pointed out that they look fat. She'll also reliably trot out the one about how my mom couldn't get a date to the prom because her boobs are too small. Then at some point there's a long rambling "prayer" about Jesus and the "mercenary Santa Clauses" (also true) and then everyone eats chili con queso, shrimp, and tamales. In the morning we get up and immediately start drinking "milk punch," which is basically ice cream, rum, and milk in a blender.

I am getting ill just writing about it.

This Christmas is the first Christmas ever where I won't be with my family but rather with my in-laws. I imagine there will be less yelling and a lot more television. Given a choice between my crazy bigot alkie grandparents and a thousand hours of "Deal or No Deal," I think it's obvious which one I would pick (the latter).



@dracula's ghost Ice cream, rum, and milk in a blender! I think I just found my new favorite drink/dessert/breakfast.


@dracula's ghost Wow, that sounds a lot like my family, except without the drinking. Lots of yelling, political rants, and usually some crying.

dracula's ghost

@dracula's ghost oh my god, I just realized I meant THE FORMER! Total opposite point!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND NOW ITS LIKE I DON'T KNOW ENGLISH ANYMORE!


@dracula's ghost Please write a novel about this so it can be made into a movie starring one or both of the Wilson brothers and Vince Vaughn as the smarmy uncle.

dracula's ghost

@dinos the Wilson brothers could play my grandparents!

Beautiful Ann Perkins

@dracula's ghost Substitute East Coast WASPS for Texans, and subtract religion, and you've got Thanksgiving with my family, right down to Charades.

Four Horsemeals of the Eggporkalypse

My only drinking-with-family story is when my dad totally drank me under the table the night before my graduation, then showed up to the ceremony well-rested and bright-eyed, while I was dying and too afraid to drink too much water before the 3 hr ceremony. I don't know which was worse, the hangover or the shame of being outdone by my dad.

Roxanne Rholes

@Four Horsemeals of the Eggporkalypse Hahaha, I feel you. My boyfriend and I went on a road trip to go visit my grandfather on the other side of the country, and since he lives in a small apartment, he got us a hotel room. We met him at his favorite restaurant, and he made me keep up with him on the margaritas. I don't remember returning to the hotel, finding a Paul Simon special on PBS, and getting so excited I fell off the bed.

My boyfriend remembers! And my grandfather called at Crazy Early In The Morning to go get breakfast. He is EIGHTY.


@Roxanne Rholes Yes, yes! I'm doing a tweener trip next week to Florida to visit my grandparents and my favorite cherished ritual is that my grandmother (85) hands you a rocks glass of vodka with a splish splash of vermouth and three olives at precisely 5pm. Once I tried to put a bit of water in it because straight vodka is um burning? and I thought she was going to disown me on the spot.
<3 drinkies with grandparents!

You'll be sorry Jo March

We're having an English-themed thanksgiving! It's wassail punch for us. Mmmm, brandy.


@You'll be sorry Jo March I would very much like this wassail punch recipe, if you would be so kind.

You'll be sorry Jo March

@QuiteAimable I wish I had it! My aunt is making it. I know it has apple cider, spices, and brandy...

Roxanne Rholes

This "Bee Sting" thing might be my new favorite drink? I need to go home and try it right now! I have never wanted a drink so bad, at work, before noon. Even hung over!


Mmmmmm sangria.

Why can't it be thanksgiving for me this weekend?! I have to wait another whole month for the next epic feast!

On the other hand ... isn't it weird to have thanksgiving and christmas so close together? It's like ... you don't even get a rest from one huge traditional white person meal before diving right into the next one!


@redheadedandcrazy One of the best things about living in the US as a Canadian was celebrating Thanksgiving twice. Or three or four times, as we would usually be invited to a few dinners over the course of the four-day American Thanksgiving weekend.


@phlox I am not (as) ashamed (as I should be) to admit that it was not until this moment I realized that Canadians celebrated Thanksgiving. Learning!


@melis to be fair, it barely qualifies as a celebration when nobody ever gets trampled to death for Great Savings!

... this comment is in terrible taste. I banish myself back to canada.


@melis Ours is in early October and it's only a three-day weekend.


@melis Me either. I thought it was very specifically American. #themoreyouknow #offtogoogle


@redheadedandcrazy I am so crazy jealous of Americans right now I can hardly stand it. I WANT TURKEY. Why can't we celebrate two Thanksgivings? Solidarity and all that?!


@melis lol I literally said "wait..what?" after reading this LOL woww


@callmekittycat and that's because I'm a recent college grad and didnt know this...


@redheadedandcrazy I have always been like 'thank goodness we don't have two holidays so close together!' (Australian, here). But man I am SO TIRED and it's bumming me out that I am too end-of-year-tired to get psyched about christmas. I could definitely do with a long weekend right about now to break things up.

Why are all of Australia's public holidays at the start of the year? This is definitely the wrong way around.


ok but seriously you americans are crazy! do you think you're the only ones who have anything to give thanks for? huh? do you? DO YOU? HUH?


@melis I didn't realize until I was invited to a Canadian Thanksgiving a Canadian expat friend was having. The key is just not to admit it. OOPS WE FAIL.

Emma Peel

Cider and port sangria? These sound amazing. I want to make all the things.

oh, disaster

I have to work on Thanksgiving, so whatever will look inconspicuous in a coffee mug will do.


I feel like this is a stupid question, but would it be alcoholic cider in the sangria? I ask mostly because I already have an enormous bottle of non-alcoholic cider in the fridge (not sure how it's different from juice, but whatevs), and I'm kind of trying to figure out how to get rid of it.

Theresa Borkowski@facebook

@weathering drink it plain! or, make mulled cider (giant pot-o-cider, mulling spices in cheese cloth, diced apples) add rum if you wish- delish either way.


@weathering microwave it in a mug til it is hot; dump in whiskey. ta-da!

Nina B.@twitter

YES PORT. So glad to see it get some love.


@Nina B.@twitter Me too. I am obsessed!


My extended family does not drink because they are good, teetotaling Baptists (I love them, though). One year, my family was far away in Arizona and I was at Thanksgiving sans siblings, parents. Post-feast, somebody suggested we play Never-Have-I-Ever. Did you know there was a non-drinking kind? Neither did I. Everyone sits in a circle and in a musical-chairs-esque maneuver, folks must stand if they've done that thing and try to find an empty seat, or they are stuck standing and humiliated.

My aunt and uncle were one-upping each other, and my aunt triumphantly declared "Never have I ever BEEN DRUNK." My uncle and I were left standing, as my lush cousins shifted awkwardly and uttered nary a word.

Now I'm known as the family drunk. If my parents and siblings had been there, this never would have happened.


@annierebekah I hate never have I ever so much you don't even know. It's like all my social anxieties, rolled into a drinking game.


My family's favourite holiday drink: warm apple cider + goldschlager. I know, goldschlager is kind of evil, but this is goooood. Keep the apple cider warm in a crockpot on the bar, add some goldschlager to your mug, and it's like liquid apple pie. Yum.

A close second is blueberry team. This (speaking from experience) is especially good for getting crusty old great-aunts to loosen up at Christmas when they don't realize that they're drinking something ridiculously alcoholic.


@lilyofthevalley I once drank essentially a fifth of goldschlager all on my own senior year of high school (nearly half my life ago) and I still can't eat anything fake cinnamon flavored. Ugh, just thinking of this can almost make me vomit on demand.


@lilyofthevalley what is blueberry team? Google has failed me.


@anotherkate Blueberry tea! Sorry, typo. Orange pekoe tea + amaretto + grand marnier = somehow tastes like blueberries.


I don't really drink (just one makes me sleepy) but that sangria sounds goooood.

We don't do Thanksgiving in Australia, so.

Mary McKenna@facebook

I'm curious about the bee sting... can someone tell me what it means to "muddle" peppercorns?



@Mary McKenna@facebook Um, ditto. I imagine the logistics of it looks more like bludgeoning them to death? A huge mallet and a bag of peppercorns?? Maybe you can like, marinate them first? That sounds disgusting and I feel like I would get scared that there were dead rollie pollies in my drink...

dracula's ghost

@Hambulance muddling means you bash everything up with some sort of heavy implement, crushing the mint leaves and sugar and whatever (lime pulp! I'm clearly telling you how to make a mojito) all together into a "muddled" mess the flavor of which can then percolate throughout the liquid you will then add. So muddling peppercorns I imagine means crushing them into a wet pulpy mass that will then add spicy bits to your sipping pleasure. Right?? Maybe I'm wrong.


@dracula's ghost Right, but I just feel like as soon as you hit them with a pestle that they would like-- fly out everywhere, y'know? Like, should they be wet already, or could we cut a corner and just used crushed?

I need a mojito now. To, you know, help me think this through...


@Mary McKenna@facebook My favorite ever martini is like this. You basically crush the peppercorns.

In case anyone is wondering, my favorite martini is pineapple-infused sobieski vodka with cracked pink peppercorns. It is served at Il Gatto in Minneapolis and is called the "Smitten Kitten". It is basically a big ol' tasty cup of vodka, and will get you delightfully tipsy after just one.

Mary McKenna@facebook

@MissMushkila (et. al.)
Thanks y'all!


@Hambulance You can buy an implement that is actually called a 'muddler' http://barware.cart.net.au/store/bar-tools/muddlers/ I know this because last christmas I assembled a cocktail making set for my sister.

I imagine that is why it tells you to muddle them in the shaker? Because high sides = not popping out everywhere. You could probably use crushed, but then it wouldn't be as fresh. So, I guess it depends how much you care about that (my personal answer: not that much).

Erin Mullins Giffee@facebook

@MissMushkila Sobieski is the cheap version of Belvedere (my favorite)! I can't validate dropping my hard-earned cash on Belvedere anymore when Sobieski tastes just like it. ANYway, the pink peppercorn drink sounds sublime. This is something I'm going to have to attempt to recreate at home. Hooray for infused vodkas!


Oh lord. I want ALL of these and I HAVE TO WORK TOMMORROW. *sob*

Porn Peddler

Working two shifts. So, you know, mopping a lot of jizz. My family is all 400 miles away (and I am broke) and my co-workers tend to have lives, so I offered to take anyone's shift if they wanted to do something else. And, of course, in my brokeassness, I need the money. Mister and I will probably do a little mini thanksgiving Saturday morning with a tasty cauliflower pot pie (with kalamata olive biscuits nom nom nom) and piles upon piles of collard greens.


@Third Wave Housewife: I've never really been a holiday person, so time and a half or double time holidays always appealed to me. Especially since I'm usually on help desk type duty, which means goofing off on the web while everyone else does the holiday thing.


Two weekends ago, my dad came to visit me and the bf, and pulled something that can only be classified as Ron Swanson-esque. He came over, gifted me a power drill for my birthday ("it's got a small handle for your hands, like a .45"), fixed a window, and then proceeded to go shot for shot for Manhattan with my boyfriend and I until the bf passed out, and I literally fell underneath the table.

He got up at 7:30 AM the next morning.

dracula's ghost

@ap_physics RON SWANSON!!!! We can't tell if we want him to be our dad or to marry us! It's the ultimate Freudian nightmare....so sweet...yet so sour....



@ap_physics oh my god, so THAT'S what it means for someone to "drink you under the table"! I always thought it was just a weird idiom, but now I understand. (I have a thing for lived cliches; one time my husband & I couldn't find this one theater, & were enormously tickled when we realized we'd been looking on the literal wrong side of the tracks.)


The first time I introduced a significant other to my family for any extended period of time was over a camping trip. The first night, my family played spoons, and my dad kept challenging my boyfriend and I to take shots of tequila. Out of a red solo cup. Because we didn't have shot glasses...

I've thought about buying my family a shot glass for Christmas, but they only ever drink when hanging out with me. And also, they would just use it for espresso, I'm pretty sure.


Mmm, I've been looking for a hot gin drink. Thanks!

For me it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without hot cider and Drambuie. Thats the official start of the holiday season at my house.


@Fflora Drambuie and cider! I was just extolling the virtues of bourbon and cider, but I am definitely down with Drambuie, too. Thanks!


I have never been drunk with my family, around my family, near my family or at my family. They are the most ardent of teetotalers, and if drinking were to ever somehow be brought into the mix with this people, I'm fairly certain my head would explode.

My favorite holiday/winter beverage is bourbon with hot cider and a dash of cinnamon. So good.

Beck Rea@facebook

@kayjay: Oh, lady, I feel your pain. I am bringing a flask to hide in my car at tomorrow's teetotalling "festivities". I will probably need to 'step out and get some fresh air' once an hour or so. :)

I'm a huge fan of blueberry juice and gin.


@Beck Rea@facebook Oh my, you are brave. I don't think I could "step out for fresh air" without being terrified of appearing tipsy or smelling of alcohol.

Also, I live 3000 miles away from my family now, so I'm good to go.

Beck Rea@facebook

@kayjay : I have powerful gum. And I'm hoping for the 3,000 miles away thing to happen soon--at least I cleverly made the parents think I'd be away with the Boyfriend's family for Christmas, and they booked a trip to Mexico, so Friend Christmas instead!


We will sit in our pajamas, watch cartoons, drink, and eat all day. I love Friend Holidays.

Maggie McCurdy@facebook

Holidays are usually filled with drinking, particularly because we hang out with my mom's side of the family who are all loud Irish drinking-oriented people. One Christmas eve, my cousin and I got a leeeetle bit too tipsy and while we were sitting on the couch near the tree with the family during Present Time, we began singing a rowdy rendition of that Apple-Bottom-Jeans-andthe-Boots-withthe-FURRRRR song. Wildly inappropriate and still makes me smile thinking about it. Ah, family and booze. Good times.


I concocted something very similar to the Bee Sting (but with a bit of boiling water added) to find relief from my sore-throat-from-hell recently, and it worked like a charm! (FYI). I'm excited to try a chilled version.

Blousey Brown

Ah, this is so funny! I love the image of you wandering from room to room clearing your throat. I'm dry at present, but I remember one Thanksgiving at 7,945 ft. (Aspen), when I drank two strong martinis instead of one (altitude truly matters) and condescendingly said to my boyfriend, in front of his parents, "That's 'cause YOU'RE the Golden Boy!" While saying it, I spiraled my pointer finger in front of his face and then dramatically booped him on the nose. Terrible.


@Blousey Brown I seriously just had a laughing fit at my desk imagining this. Love it!

Blousey Brown

@tortietabbie It was the most-delicious-thing-I-knew-I'd-regret ever.

Beck Rea@facebook



@Blousey Brown That is amazing.

Claire Zulkey

I'm having my husbo make his mom's wassail recipe the day after Thanksgiving. I'm having some gals over, one of whom is expecting, so it'll be nice to liquor up or not as we see fit.


But but but...what about pumpkin pie shots? YOU LIGHT THEM ON FIRE! Clearly that makes them the best!

Beck Rea@facebook

I *wish* I had drinking stories with my teetotalling family.

Instead, I sneak booze into the cranberry sauce (after it's cooled--no wussy cooked-off-alcohol here, thankyouverymuch)--I put my recipe up on my blog if anyone wants to similarly sneak in a good time:



I don't drink, but my family is full of raging alcoholics who don't really believe me, so they're constantly trying to spike my beverages and it becomes really uncomfortable as they get drunker and less sneaky..

Beck Rea@facebook

@Serafina: I just realized that I might sound like an asshole, sneaking booze into the teetotalling party...there isn't a single alcoholic in my family (not even close!)--they just believe that it makes them better Christians if they don't imbibe.

It's just kind of eye-roll-making. I would never booze-sneak with someone who is on the wagon, or has a family history of alcoholism.



A few years ago, my mom and another lady, neither of whom had identified as gay before, fell in love and got married, and I inherited a whole mess of very confused stepbrothers. We're all adults and don't really know each other well, and all the boys (my lil bro included) are the quiet-nerdy type. Our family events now go like this:

*quiet quiet quiet*
My oldest stepbrother: Is there a bar around here?
Everyone else: Let's go find out! Back soon, Moms!

And then they doze off peacefully on the couch while all their children get drunk together. Ah, family unity.


@fishiefishfish I love this tradition. I wish I could drink enough to dispel the weirdness of the friends my parents insist on inviting to holiday meals--my *favorite* is the Confederate reenactor--but my liver isn't strong enough. Instead I stopped spending holidays with my parents. Now I visit them on off-months, or they visit me, and my liver is much happier.


I grew up in a small town in an lapsed Irish Catholic Family. I was unaware as a child that there were adults that "didn't drink", and dutifully would automatically bring all visitors a beer upon their arrival. I was very, very, confused when one man asked for a soda instead. "But that's for the kids!"


@Brunhilde Irish Catholics on both sides here, but my Paternal Grandpa's brother was an alcoholic. As a result, none of the men on that side of the family drink much. I realised when i hit 18 that I'd never actually seen a man drunk. My aunts and grandmothers, on the other hand... well, let's just say that Champagne is what stops us from slapping each other. (Literally. My maternal grandmother has a history)


@Brunhilde late to the party, but this is such a cute story.


So my family has these GIANT family reunions up in MI every three years. My cousin has a bunch of land there and we camp, eat, drink, play music around the campfire. The year that I was probably 20 I had a little too much of the family recipe AKA homemade cherry whiskey and got really sick. A cousin dutifully put me to bed after she thought I was done vom'ing. Bed was in a tent that I was sharing with my sister, so she left the tent flap slightly open in case I got confused and needed to barf again. Later that night I woke up, confused, and ready to barf. I turned the wrong way and started heaving on my sister, who promptly woke up and started screaming to go the other way. I then finished up by leaning outside the tent. In the morning my brother came to wake us up, barefoot, and stepped in the vomit. And that is my fun story of how I managed to get vomit on both my siblings in an 8 hour time span with the same heave. GOOD TIMES. I'm better about my cherry whiskey consumption now.
P.S. This is how I'll figure out if my sister actually reads The Hairpin posts I share with her....


I once got drunk with my mother because we were bored and she bought Girls Night Out rose (GIRLS NIGHT OUT IS THE BEST CHEAP WINE EVER SERIOUSLY) and I was not very drunk but my mom was, and ended up lying on the couch asking me if I ever wondered why we had hands and also wouldn't it be terrible to be crippled?


Drinking at family gatherings was kind of casual and no one got very drunk (verboten) until the year my aunt was going through chemo and got PLASTERED before the dessert course and asked my best friend if her bush matched her hair (which was dyed bright pink) and proceeded to tell us that she didn't have any bush at all anymore. We all hugged her and put her to bed, and from then on everyone has been free to get as drunk as we like. Now we're so fun, my friends leave their family holidays to come drink with my aunts and smoke weed with my uncles. I love the holidays.


Hairpinners, I think if anyone can help, it's you. How do I approach drinking with my family when they think I don't drink? Just pull a beer from the fridge and have at it? Not that they mind and in the past they've tried their best to get me to drink with them, but I only started drinking very recently. I'd like to drink with them, I just don't want them to give me all kinds of shit for it. How do I approach this situation like a normal human being?!


@dysphonium you answered your own question,
sister. Just pull out a beer and join them.


I love how often "teetotal" is used in this thread. Yay for archaic adjectives!


I just want to give three cheers for Drink (the bar, although I support drinking, of course). Boston: We have good cocktail bars! It is not all Irish sports bars (though they of course have their uses)! If you are in the Boston area and you like interesting drinks, you should also check out Deep Ellum in Brighton. DO IT DO IT NOW.

PS Drink came in 8th in the world HAHAAAA I WIN.


O PS I would like to nominate the Angostura Sour for another Excellent Holiday Cocktail spot.


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