Happy Hour: Glasses of gratitude

By Adam McDowell

I said it last year and I’ll say it again: Most people don’t drink smart on Thanksgiving. Beer is gassy and filling, not the best choice when you’re eating your face off. Red wine doesn’t go that well with turkey, and makes you sleepy (if Seinfeld is to be believed). Here are some more promising options, arranged from least to most challenging.
Bear in mind you’ll probably be full of mashed potatoes and stuffng.


Who wants to drink something heavy or cloying after a massive pig-out? To repeat a piece of advice, a fruit eau de vie, especially Poire Williams (made from Bartlett pears), tastes autumnally light and clean, like a gust of crisp air. Chill it in the freezer and serve in very small glasses. Or you could follow French tradition and pour yourself a calvados (apple brandy) with ice in a snifter.


Cocktail history has given us a nicely sour and refreshing palate cleanser with a seasonally suitable name. Somewhere between a daiquiri and a margarita, the Pilgrim Cocktail used to be made with New England rum, but that doesn’t exist

Pilgrim Cocktail

– 1½ oz. amber rum, such as Mount Gay Eclipse
– ½ oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice
– ½ oz. Cointreau (triple sec)

Method: Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.


Let’s imagine you do want to fuss over drinks. I came up with a cocktail full of autumnal flavours that makes use of Spicebox, a new, made-in-Montreal “spiced whisky.” On its own, Spicebox’s caramel, vanilla and fiery spice flavours make for a decent, if unsubtle, post-turkey digestif.

Harvest Moon

– 1 dried allspice berry (optional)
– loonie-sized piece of orange peel
– 1½ oz. Spicebox spiced whisky
– 1½ oz. sweet vermouth
– 2 dashes Angostura bitters
– short cinnamon stick, heated

Method: Put the orange peel and allspice at the bottom of a mixing glass and crush/squeeze well with a muddler (or spoon, if that’s your only option). Add handful of ice, then whisky and vermouth, and stir for at least a minute. Meanwhile, heat cinnamon stick in microwave for a minute or more. Pour drink through mesh strainer into a rocks glass with ice. Dunk the cinnamon stick in as a garnish and serve.


At last year’s family Thanksgiving I made a round of sweet, spicy Pumpkin Pie Old Fashioneds for the crowd. They were a big hit, even among the non-cocktail people (Granny loved ’em). Visit the online version of this column at natpo.st/hhdrinks for a link to the recipe, which is too long to print here.