I know I say this every year (okay, this is only the second year of this blog, or even the first if you don’t count the previous incarnation) but how is it almost Thanksgiving already?! I’m not complaining, except Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday (save for the genocide and oppression and all), and in my fantasy life, I get to spend the entire month of November making spiced syrups and hand turkeys while wearing $300 off-white chunky sweaters and taking pictures of my tan ankle booties among a pile of brightly-colored leaves (for Instagram, duh).
Alas, my life is not that cozy or hygge or aspirational or whatever. Most days, I’m working too much and lint-rolling dog hair off my cleanest gray sweatshirt while simultaneously smothering my face in Vaseline so my skin doesn’t dry up and fall off. And I’m pretty sure my yard is an actual mud pit. But you know what? I haven’t completely given up on life, not even my fantasy one, and I somehow managed to make not one, but TWO spiced syrups this week. The first was a chai cider syrup for my wreath event at Boulevard, and the second was a spiced pomegranate syrup.
To be honest, a spiced pomegranate syrup wouldn’t be the first thing I’d think to make for a cocktail, since whiskey, citrus, and ginger are my default ingredients. But when Mean Mule Distilling Co. reached out asking if I wanted to partner on a Thanksgiving cocktail, I knew I wanted to do something different. Mean Mule is a Silver American Agave Spirit made in my hometown of Kansas City, MO, and while it’s similar in taste to a really great tequila, it’s not tequila because it’s not produced in Mexico. But hey, it’s not trying to be tequila. Just like I’m not trying to be an Instagram girl in a chunky white sweater (seriously, I’d spill something on it within 20 minutes of leaving the house).
Anyway, this stuff is good. Really good (you can even drink it neat without making that horrible guttural hissing sound one makes when booze stings). Mean Mule imports 100% blue agave from a farm in Mexico that sustainably grows and processes their own plants, then it’s distilled in a handmade still here in Kansas City. I’m probably bordering on cocktail nerd shit here, but all you really need to know is that this stuff is quality. And just based on the email exchanges I’ve had with the dudes that make it, I’m gonna say it’s made with love. (How’s that for some Instagram girl #goodvibesonly? You’re welcome. Happy Thanksgiving. Hashtag blessed.)
So back to the drink: I very rarely see drinks with an agave spirit base that don’t feature citrus, but I wanted to go a different direction for Thanksgiving. And because I genuinely like the taste of it on its own (even just a lil’ nip at room temperature — of which I’ve had more than a few, FOR RESEARCH) I love that the cinnamon, anise, and clove in the spiced pomegranate syrup really enhance the warm flavor of the Mean Mule — as opposed to masking it.
The syrup itself is really easy to make — and will make your house smell AH-mazing for hours — but it does take a while, so plan to include it in your Thanksgiving prep. Even though I de-seeded a pomegranate for this photo (TOTAL LIES! I made Kyle do it) you don’t actually have to. But pomegranates are really good, and they’re in season right now, so you should. You know, while you’re waiting three hours for your spiced pomegranate syrup/edible air freshener to simmer.
Spiced Pomegranate Syrup
Don’t use some old-ass cinnamon sticks you found in the back of your pantry. Hell, you shouldn’t use any old-ass spices, ever, but especially for this syrup. If you don’t get a strong kick of cinnamon when you take a whiff, get some new ones.Yield: 3.5-ish cups
48 ounces pomegranate juice
8 cinnamon sticks
4 star anise
1 tablespoon whole cloves
¾ cup agave syrup
Add the pomegranate juice to a medium pot over high heat. When it reaches a boil, reduce the heat to low and add the cinnamon sticks, star anise, and cloves. Let it simmer until it reduces by half (about 90 minutes). Add the agave syrup, stir well, and let it simmer for another 30 minutes. Turn off the heat an let it cool for about an hour before straining. Store it in a jar or airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.
1.5 ounces Mean Mule Silver American Agave Spirit
1 ounce spiced pomegranate syrup (above)
½ ounce orange liqueur
Add the ingredients to a mixing glass with a handful of ice. Stir and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with star anise and/or a fresh sprig of rosemary if you’re fancy (or nasty, because that’s more fun than fancy).
TIP: To wake up both the color and scent of the rosemary, run it under warm water for 10-15 seconds.
For a variation on this drink, give the ingredients a stir and top it off with some ice and club soda. Or just put a little bit of the syrup into a generous pour of Mean Mule on the rocks. It’s all good.
This post is in partnership with Mean Mule — which I’d totally drink even if they weren’t paying me to, because it’s really that tasty.
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Genocide and centuries of oppression aside, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. There’s no religion, no gifts I have to pretend to like, and we get to eat ALL THE FOOD. But food is way less fun without drinks to go along with it, hence my signature Thanksgiving cocktail, The Old Sage.
Of course, thanks to a certain caffeinated beverage, made wildly popular by a certain Seattle-based coffee chain, pumpkin spice is widely considered the flavor of Thanksgiving. But for those of us who appreciate the holiday for its more savory and substantial offerings, we know that sage is the true taste — and scent — of the season. And it’s the inspiration for this perfectly balanced Thanksgiving cocktail.
The Old Sage has a hint and scent of sage, thanks to a super-easy sage simple syrup that gets mixed with Old Overholt Rye Whiskey, lemon juice, and Peychaud’s Bitters.
It’s good. Like, get-Grandma-wasted-on-Thanksgiving good. I’m even going to go out on a limb and say it’s the best Thanksgiving cocktail in the world. In fact, it may be the only Thanksgiving cocktail in the world, but that’s probably not true at all.
Anyway, you can make the syrup at any point now. It will keep in the fridge and you’re going to have enough to do next week.
THE OLD SAGE
2 ounces Old Overholt Rye Whiskey
2 ounces lemon juice
1 ½ ounces sage simple syrup
3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
Lemon slice for garnish
Sage leaf or sprig for garnish
To make the sage simple syrup, combine 1 cup white granulated sugar, 1 cup water, and ½ cup of loosely-packed fresh sage leaves in a saucepan over high heat. Mix well, and as soon as the mixture reaches a boil, remove from the heat and let it cool to room temperature. Strain out the sage leaves and store the syrup in a bottle or jar in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
To assemble the cocktail, add the Old Overholt, lemon juice, sage simple syrup, and bitters to a cocktail shaker or wide-mouth mason jar with ice. Shake the shit out of it, then strain into a double rocks glass filled with a handful of ice cubes or one large cube. Garnish with the lemon and sage, and enjoy!
It will probably not surprise you to learn that at my house, the alcohol flows freely on Thanksgiving. And when I say freely, I mean that shit sometimes runneth over into the food. In this case, it’s my micro-famous Grand Marnier cranberry sauce. (It’s appeared on the Internet a few times. That qualifies as micro-famous, right?)
For this super-simple recipe, fresh cranberries, sugar, and a touch of lime get a generous shot of Grand Marnier, an orange-flavored cognac liqueur. The sweetness and slight acidity of the Grand Marnier — which is added toward the end so it doesn’t completely cook out — is the perfect complement for tart cranberries.
It doesn’t get more fucking festive than that, now does it?
Grand Marnier Cranberry Sauce
Yield: About 1 Pint
12 ounces fresh cranberries
¼ cup water
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon lime juice
½ cup Grand Marnier
Add the cranberries, water, and sugar to a saucepan over medium heat, stir, and let it cook until the cranberries are soft, and bright-red foam has formed, about 15 minutes. Mash the cranberries with a wooden spoon (which will be stained red forever, fucking deal with it), reduce the heat to low, then add the lime juice and Grand Marnier. Mix well and let it simmer until it has reduced to a sauce-like texture, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lime zest.
This Grand Marnier cranberry sauce can be made ahead of time, stored in a mason jar with a lid (or similar sized air-tight container), and refrigerated for a week or two, so make that shit well ahead of time so it’s one fucking less thing you have to worry about when you’re rushing around the day before Thanksgiving. Also, you can plop it right out of the jar into a log just like you can with the cans so don’t you worry about that.
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Remember that scene early in Wayne’s World when Wayne saw a guitar he wanted and said, “She will be mine. Oh yes, she will be mine?” And he said it again when he saw Cassandra for the first time? Well, maybe you don’t remember it because you’re not quickly approaching your 20-year high school reunion (and maybe it seems a little icky in 2018 retrospect), but that’s exactly how I felt about this gold velvet chair from Article when I spotted it online a few months ago.
Originally, I was poking around Article’s site eyeballing their sectionals. I’d been considering tan leather to replace our ancient and “well loved” microfiber workhorse, but when I saw that Article had added a gold velvet fabric option for a few of its pieces, I immediately redesigned the whole setup in my head: dark sectional, gold chair. Boom, boom, BOOM!
I know what you’re thinking. And yes, I agree. Obviously a gold velvet couch would be nice, too. But the Yarrow Gold isn’t currently available on any of Article’s sectionals, and we definitely need a sectional. But the bigger issue was the fact that I have a toddler, two rowdy mutts who shed all over the damn place, and a very sweet but messy husband who likes to eat barbecue on the couch while watching basketball on TV. So no, a gold velvet couch wasn’t in the cards. For now, I’m thrilled to be done with microfiber, but still very realistic about my velvet acquisitions. (And I’m already eyeballing my next one.)
Anyway, in case you couldn’t tell, I’m obsessed with gold velvet anything. Obsessed. Always have been, always will be. Add it to a sleek chair with a deep seat and sexy lines, and I’m done for. Take all my money already! (Somehow, though, I managed to convince the good people at Article to send me one.)
Also, it just so happens to PERFECTLY match the throw pillow covers I had made with this gorgeous vintage barkcloth I found at a flea market a few years ago.
After living with it for a month, I’m shocked at how well this thing has held up. Everything gets a lot of wear and tear in this house, and the chair still looks just like it was delivered yesterday. Maybe it’s time to rethink that whole velvet couch thing after all…
This post is in partnership with Article, who provided me with the chair. (Though, to be honest with YOU, I totally would have bought it anyway and probably just put it on my credit card and told my husband I had a promo code or something. Because I’m horrible like that and really, really ridiculously obsessed with gold velvet.)
ARTICLE: Matrix Chair in Yarrow Gold
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It’s fall y’all! Which just means the weather finally caught up with the calendar and at long last I can open my sunroof (but only at night because while I get that the sun is the source of all life on earth, it’s just too damn bright and I hate it). It also means it’s time to make all the fall drinks — at least until winter rolls in probably a few short days from now. And since spring and fall hardly exist anymore, I really went for excessive seasonality and basically recreated a caramel apple in a cup. But with booze (whiskey) and the most fall beer to ever fall beer. You’re welcome.
I’d say this drink is way outside my comfort zone, but you’ll recognize my go-tos: Old Overholt rye and Angostura bitters. Still, it’s sweeter than most of my recipes and I should probably be embarrassed to tell you it features store-bought syrup — but I know you’re relieved you don’t have to make anything on the stove (this time). Caramel syrups are fairly easy to find, and I picked up a bottle of Torani from the coffee section of my grocery store (and if you really can’t find it, maybe your favorite local coffee shop will give you a pump of theirs). I’m pretty sure too much of it will give you THE BEETUS, so it’s a good thing this cocktail calls for only a tablespoon, which is just enough to give you the essence of caramel. The sweetness is balanced by Boulevard’s delicious new seasonal beer, Tart Apple Radler, and of course, the bitters.
Caramel Apple Radler
1.5 ounces whiskey (I used Old Overholt rye)
1 tablespoon caramel syrup
6 ounces Boulevard Tart Apple Radler
1-2 dashes Angostura bitters
Add all ingredients to a Collins, pint, or other beer glass with a handful of ice. Stir and enjoy!
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