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American Drinking &
Thanksgiving Cocktails

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American Drinking & Thanksgiving Cocktails

A Little Bit of History...

In order to understand America’s very long (by stateside standards) and checkered history with alcohol, we’ve got to rewind to 1620: The Pilgrims had been at sea for close to 2 months, they were off-course and their beer supply was dwindling.


Whilst water was potentially deadly, beer was totally drinkable - as it was bad*ss - and able to kill microorganisms. So there you have it: booze was even trumping water back in Colonial times. An American precedent was set.

By the mid 17th century, the distilling craze began and even good old George Washington was planting rye and producing whiskey. But by 1920, certain abstinent women started to notice certain loose men having the time of their lives drinking and the crusade against alcohol began; this is where Prohibition makes its entrance.  Booze was outlawed for 14 years - available only to ministers and rabbis (sacramental wine) and spirits for medicinal purposes. The rebels started making moonshine in their houses, often tasting so bad that they’d mix them with lemon juice, sugar or the like. Sound familiar? Yep. That’s how the classic cocktail set up of booze, sweet and sour was born.

Although Jerry Thomas was the pioneer of American mixology, as seen with his How to Mix Drinks (Bar-Tender’s Guide, 1862), it wasn’t until the 20th Century that the cocktail craze really skyrocketed.  During Prohibition the best bartenders in the US shipped over to other countries where they could continue their art; luckily for us Brits, Harry Craddock hit up The Savoy and created The American Bar, a pioneer of cocktail mixology in London.

Where there has been an American, there has been some kind of liquor cabinet, so why not celebrate the nation’s existence this Thanksgiving by drinking some of its most iconic or seasonal cocktails to date?



This is the Granddaddy of all cocktails and a holiday cert if you’re keen to drink like a true American. There are no frills with this one, the focus is all on damn good whiskey so choose your favourite bottle and enjoy the potent simplicity.

RECIPE: 60ml whiskey, 2 dashes Angostura bitters, 1 cube sugar, Orange peel for garnish

Method: Place all ingredients into a mixing glass, add a chunk of ice and get stirring. The purpose here is twofold: you want to chill the drink down, but you also want to slightly dilute, adding that tiny bit of water to get all the flavours out of the booze and bitters. Pour into a sexy tumbler (no one wants a killer cocktail in a cracked IKEA glass) and add more ice to keep things chilled. It’s nothing without the signature garnish of orange peel: give it a twist over the glass to release the oils and spruce that cocktail up.

We recommend Tincup American Whiskey


Festivities, America and eggnog are one and the same, so spike yours with cognac or bourbon and savour the blessed boozy heavy cream.

RECIPE: 5 ½ tablespoons sugar, 4 egg yolks (and whites), 1 pint whole milk, 85ml cognac, 1 teaspoon of nutmeg or cinnamon, 250ml heavy cream

Method: Beat egg yolks. Gradually add sugar followed by milk, cream, bourbon (or cognac) and nutmeg (or cinnamon). Whisk egg whites into the mixture. This serves about 6 glasses worth.

We recommend Remy Martin Cognac


People have been drinking this one since colonial times, so stick to American tradition. BarChick rates this historic ‘beverage’ not just because it’s dripping with rum, but because it’s infused with delicious butter.

RECIPE: 2 sugar cubes (or 2 teaspoons of honey), Splash of boiling water, 50ml rum, Knob of unsalted butter (as you like), Freshly grated nutmeg

Method: Dissolve sugar or honey into hot water. Then add rum and unsalted butter. Top with more hot water and sprinkle nutmeg to finish the deed.

We recommend The Duppy Share Rum


Although introduced from India to the UK, it’s made its way back to the US and become a top Thanksgiving staple. It’s high-octane, it’s no-fuss and it’s laced with vitamin C. Winning on all fronts.

RECIPE: 250ml orange curacao, 15ml grenadine, 115ml orange juice, 250ml superfine sugar, 1 litre brandy, 1 litre soda water, Slices of lemon

Method: Mix curacao, grenadine, orange juice and sugar (to taste) until it dissolves. Add brandy and let it sit for a bit. When the party arrives, pour it all into a punch bowl filled with ice and add the soda water and slices of lemon.

We recommend Hennessy Fine De Cognac


This is a classic American cocktail that means business – made from just pure, no messing about, booze. Not for the light weights, but definitely for those with some good classic taste.

RECIPE: 75ml of bourbon / American whiskey, 30ml sweet vermouth, 4 drops of Angostura bitters, Dash of cherry syrup, 1 maraschino cherry with stem

Method: stir over ice and strain into a chilled Martini glass.

We recommend Buffalo Trace Bourbon

Contributed by our friends at BarChick.

Tagged in: Bourbon, cocktails, american spirits, thanksgiving, american whiskey. Categories: That's The Spirit, Cocktail Recipes.

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