Thanksgiving Cocktails: Drink Recipes From Wooster's Garden

In the video above, general manager Jessica Johnson of Wooster’s Garden demonstrates how to make three different cocktails to go with Thanksgiving dinner. There’s a drink designed for each phase of the meal: before, during and after.

Here are the recipes, with some additional commentary from Wooster’s Garden co-owner Steven Salazar.  

Poppy My Sherry

“Typically, when you’re looking for an aperitif, you’re looking for substantial bitter notes paired with herbal notes. Grand Poppy Cordial delivers all of that. Gin falls in that category as well. It’s dry and herbaceous. The Pedro Ximinez sherry adds some really nice depth and rounds it all out.”

1.25 Poppy My Sherry
1.25 ounce Tanqueray 10 Gin
1.25 ounce Grand Poppy Cordial
.5 ounce Pedro Ximinez sherry

Stir with ice cubes and taste to check for balance of flavors. Serve over ice in a rocks glass and garnish with orange peel.

Identity Crisis

“When you’re having Thanksgiving, you’re not set to a course. You’re having a mash-up of a table full of things. It’s like a collage of your family’s food. This is something substantial in flavor that will carry through and not be washed out by all the different foods. Mezcal adds a smoky note that goes with roasted flavors, and Angostura has a lot of baking spices — cinnamon and clove notes — that go well with the flavors of Thanksgiving and autumn.”

1 ounce Del Maguey Vida Mezcal
.75 ounce Angostura Bitters
.75 ounce Agave Syrup
.75 ounce Lemon Juice
2 ounces of dry sparking wine (Recommended: Francois Labet from Specs)

Shake with ice cubes and taste-test. Double-strain into large coupe. (Use a regular cocktail strainer and pour through a fine mesh strainer into the glass. This removes any ice shards or lemon pulp.) Top with sparkling wine and garnish with a mint sprig

Relentless Pursuit

“This is a drink on the sweeter side — sweet enough to indulge your sweet tooth without being cloying. In Houston we have an interesting autumn. Our weather doesn’t really match the idea in your head of Thanksgiving. The city is still green. This drink is a bridge where we have the brown sugar and walnut liqueur but we also have the bright IPA that goes with the grapefruit and mango.”

1 ounce El Dorado 5 year Rum
.5 ounce Nux Alpine Walnut Liqueur
.5 ounce Mango Syrup (see recipe below)
.25 ounce Grapefruit Juice
2 ounces Ballast Point Sculpin IPA
Dehydrated grapefruit wedge for garnish (No time? Use fresh.)

Shake with ice cubes and taste-test. Double-strain into large coupe. Top with Ballast Point Sculpin IPA. Garnish with dehydrated or fresh grapefruit wedge.

Mango Syrup

In a sauce pan, combine equal parts brown sugar and Bolthouse Farms Amazing Mango bottled smoothie. Cook on low heat. Do not boil! Stir frequently until brown sugar is completely dissolved

We asked why someone might choose to make cocktails to go with dinner rather than just pop open bottles of wine. “I think drinks tend to get neglected on Thanksgiving,” Johnson said. “To craft a cocktail for someone — that’s pretty awesome.”

Steven Salazar and Jessica Johnson of Wooster's Garden
Steven Salazar and Jessica Johnson of Wooster's Garden
Monica Fuentes

Salazar adds, “It’s like why you didn’t go out and buy the turkey. You cooked it yourself. You made your yams yourself. You didn’t buy them from Central Market. It’s that extra love that you want to give to your family and show them, ‘Hey, I made this for y’all.’ You can get them to help, too. ‘Hey, shake this cocktail.'”

He also pointed out that the ingredients could be served separately to adults who want something other than a cocktail. “Your uncle can get a shot of El Dorado 5 Year on the rocks. Your aunt can get a glass of sherry. You have gin — serve someone a gin and soda or gin and tonic. The cocktails have so many fundamentals in them, they can be used for something else.” 

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