10 drinks from Louisville experts to pair with your Thanksgiving Day meal

10 drinks from Louisville experts to pair with your Thanksgiving Day meal

In the hubbub of what to cook and serve at Thanksgiving, doesn’t it seem like we’re forgetting something?

Despite the attention many of us give to drink pairings at other times, what to wash down the turkey with can feel like a bit of an afterthought. But it doesn’t have to be. There’s actually a world of fun pairings for the holiday meal, and some experts in Louisville have weighed in with their favorites ranging from bourbon neat or wine to cocktails with and without alcohol.

Here’s what the experts say you should drink with your Thanksgiving meal:

How to make a Turkey 75 cocktail

Courtesy of Nicole Stipp, Trouble Bar, 1149 S. Shelby St.

Nicole Stipp made this cocktail, a riff on the classic French 75, last year and says it was a smash hit. Here’s how to make it at home:

Turkey 75

  • 1 finger of Champagne (or sparkling wine)
  • 1.5 ounces gin
  • 2 ounces of Spiced Cranberry Syrup
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice

Spiced Cranberry Syrup:

  • Cranberry juice
  • Demerara sugar
  • cinnamon sticks, cloves, candied ginger, and peels from two oranges

First, make the Spiced Cranberry Syrup with equal parts pure cranberry juice and Demerara sugar, cooked down with cinnamon sticks, cloves, candied ginger, and peels from two oranges. Bring all to a boil and reduce. 

Next, let the syrup cool and store in mason jars in the fridge. Then, you can use this syrup in a number of ways.

In a wine glass, add one finger of champagne and 1-and-1/2-ounce gin. Add two ounces of the cranberry syrup and half an ounce of lemon juice (the regular French 75 portions don’t work on this one since the cranberry syrup is so tart!), then fill the rest of the glass with champagne.

It’s very easy to sub in non-alcoholic spirits for this one, if desired. Garnish with a lemon peel.

How to make a Roasted & Spiced Sweet Potato Washed Old Fashioned

Courtesy of Alex Fitzgerald, Paseo Restaurant, 900 Baxter Ave.

“Sweet potatoes are a Thanksgiving staple, but this is a fun way to incorporate the root vegetable into your holiday lineup,” Fitzgerald said. “This recipe is best if you roast your sweet potatoes on a wood fire grill, but you can easily prepare them in the oven, too.”

Roasted & Spiced Sweet Potato Washed Old Fashioned

  • two ounces of roasted and spiced sweet potato whiskey
  • 1/4 ounce of 1:1 simple syrup
  • two to three dashes of Fee Bros Molasses bitters – sub the classic Angostura bitters if you don’t have Fee Bros.

Roasted & Spiced Sweet Potato whiskey

  • Medium / large-sized sweet potatoes
  • Cloves

Note: For every 750ml of bourbon, prepare two medium to large-sized sweet potatoes.

First, poke holes through the surface of the sweet potato, and cook over a low flame until softened and lightly blistered. Split the sweet potato in half and add around 10 whole cloves. Place back over the flame for a few minutes, until the clove is fragrant.

Pull your potatoes from the heat and allow them to cool. Pour your favorite bourbon over the sweet potatoes in a sealable container and allow to steep. The longer you allow your whiskey to steep or “wash,” with the potatoes and cloves, the better. The ideal amount of time is about two days, so plan ahead. The sweet potatoes and whiskey should be refrigerated as they steep, as well.

Strain the whiskey from the sweet potatoes into a bottle for serving.

Combine roasted and spiced sweet potato whiskey, simple syrup, and Fee Bros Molasses bitters. Stir in a glass with ice and serve with a lemon peel.

How to make a Noche Mule  

Courtesy of Em Sego at Noche Mexican BBQ, 1838 Bardstown Road

“During the holidays, we are typically filling ourselves with heavy, rich, savory foods, so drinks tend to migrate toward the heavier side. In reality, our palate is craving acid, carbonation, and heat,” Em Sego said. “With a heavy meal on your stomach, this is a refreshingly balanced effervescent cocktail that you won’t be able to drink enough of.” 

Noche Mule

  • 1-and-1/2-ounce Herradura Double Barrel Reposado (Noche Private Selection)  
  • 1/2 ounce Super lime juice* 
  • 1/2 ounce Lemongrass Ginger Agave  
  • Topo Chico 
  • 5 cilantro leaves  

*Super lime juice is an intensified and fresh lime juice using sustainability practices of using the fruit in its entirety and acid adjusting for shelf life 

Add all ingredients to a shaker with a scoop of ice. Shake and double strain into a mule glass. Top with Topo Chico and garnish with a cilantro bouquet.  

How to make a mocktail ‘Old Fashionable’

Courtesy of Carrie Casler, NKD LDY

“The warmth and subtle sweetness of our whiskey, paired with the holiday syrup and balanced with the bitters, gives you the perfect hint of fall flavor without it being overwhelming,” Casler said. “This makes it the ideal cocktail to bring out the flavors of any course in your Thanksgiving meal.”

Old Fashionable

  • 2 ounces NKD (alcohol-free) whiskey
  • 1/4 ounce Holiday Syrup*
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitter
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • Garnish: orange peel or dehydrated orange wheel

Combine ingredients in a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir for 10 seconds.

Strain into a rocks glass with ice. Garnish with orange peel and a cinnamon stick.

Holiday Syrup*

  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice, strained
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup demerara sugar
  • 8 cloves
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 star anise
  • Orange peel from two oranges (no pith)

Combine in a saucepan and simmer on low for 10-15 minutes. Let the syrup cool to room temperature.

Strain and refrigerate. Will keep for three to four weeks in the fridge.

What wine should you drink at Thanksgiving?

Sarah Height, Canary Club and The Breeze Wine Shop, 1247 S. Shelby St.

Sarah Height with Canary Club and The Breeze Wine Shop offered three Thanksgiving Wine recommendations for your holiday meal:

“Baumand’s Carte Turquoise Cremant answers your question ‘Which bottle should we open first?’ Not only does it set the tone for your festivities, but it truly pairs perfectly with any food on the table. Offering notes of apple and freshly baked bread, rounding out with a clean and dry finish,” Height said.

“Next to the table? A Chardonnay from Beaujolais. Beautiful and fresh, with aromas of pear and citrus, accompanied on the palate by some crisp minerality. Its clean and balanced flavor will pair perfectly with gravy, mashed potatoes, and warm rolls.” 

The third wine she recommends is “a crunchy and light Rose from Lebanon. It will refresh the palate when up against all the rich flavors of Thanksgiving; offering flavors of blood orange, melon, citrus, and cherry.”

Finally, try “Clos de la Roilette, a beautiful and juicy Gamay. Beaujolais’ are a go-to for Thanksgiving and for good reason. This is a mouth-watering wine with notes of black cherry and a nutty characteristic. You couldn’t ask for a better wine to serve with your Thanksgiving turkey.”

Why you should drink Beaujolais during the holidays

Courtesty of John Grisanti, Nouvelle, 214 S. Clay St.

“So for a traditional pairing, I think it’s hard to pass on a great CRU-level Beaujolais. Not only is drinking Beaujolais a traditional celebration in November but the wine’s light tannin structure, with light bright berry character, is such a delightful drinking experience with lightly roasted meat like turkey and bonus is that cranberry sauce’s tartness is a perfect match with that fun boho character,” Grisanti told the Courier Journal. “Those wines also tend to have a little zippy body almost with a touch of effervescence from a process called Carbonic Maceration that utilizes whole cluster berries in fermentation and traps a bit of CO2.”

Why you should drink Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Bourbon during Thanksgiving

Courtesy of Eddie Fieldhouse, The Kentucky Hug

Eddie Fieldhouse with The Kentucky Hug says he drinks Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Bourbon during the holidays.

“With its bold and sticky wildflower honey, baked almond, and dusty dry oak notes, I think it pairs perfectly with a fall Panzanella, baked salad, or any dish featuring gravy,” Fieldhouse said.

“The salad I paired it with was a butternut squash panzanella. Sourdough croutons, broiled cherry tomatoes, rosemary, basil, English cucumbers, drizzled with a mix of apple cider vinegar and balsamic reduction and a touch of maple syrup on a base of butternut squash puree. It pairs wonderfully with any baked squash or dark-leaf lettuce like kale for Thanksgiving,” Fieldhouse said. “I also think it makes a perfect pairing with sweet potato and marshmallow. I love barrel-proof for any kind of heavy food as well. Barrel proof cuts right through the salt and sweetness of Thanksgiving dinner while preparing the palate for the next bite.“

Tell Dana! Send your restaurant “Dish” to Dana McMahan at thecjdish@gmail.com and follow @elleferafera on Instagram.

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