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What We’re Into Right Now: Thanksgiving Edition

From amaro caldo to American brandy, these are the drinks that will be on each of our holiday tables.

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Each month, we pull together a selection of drinking-related items that have, for one reason or another, grabbed the attention of PUNCH’s editors, who spend pretty much all day, every day surrounded by booze. Here’s what we’re into right now.

Sage- and Rosemary-Infused Campari-Soda, Bernard Baudry Chinon “Les Grézeaux” 2016 | Talia Baiocchi, Editor in Chief
Pardon the double-up here, but thanks to an over-abundance of winter herbs purchased at the market, I had a last-minute aperitivo write-in: Campari infused for 24 hours with herbs and then topped with soda and tufts of sage. Low-lift and low-ABV. But to the main event: Chinon. I love a Thanksgiving Beaujolais as much as the next guy, but it’s cabernet franc that finds its way to my table more frequently. This year I’m going with an old standby, Baudry’s Les Grézeaux, which is sourced from 65-year-old vines planted in gravel. It’s a steal at around $25 ($55 for a magnum) and has all of the savory, herbal aspects I love from the grape, plus a ton of mineral, floral intrigue around the edges.

Walcher Rondó Spritz | Chloe Frechette, Associate Editor
One of the consequences of working for a drinks publication is that I’m almost always tasked with supplying the booze for family gatherings. This year, my Thanksgiving bar will undoubtedly include a few bottles of Walcher Rondó Spritz—an Italian aperitivo liqueur from ninth-generation family distillers located in the Italian alps. Perfectly bittersweet with a dry finish, it stands well on its own, but as its name suggests, it shines best in a spritz.

Amaro Caldo | Lizzie Munro, Art Director
My family usually has a small Thanksgiving (we’re a hungry group of four this year), so our drinking decisions tend to be both informal and loosely planned. But I can make a couple predictions. For starters, I’m pretty sure we’ll make a round of Suze and Tonics (a dead-simple aperitif and my mother’s newfound obsession). And, after I have saturated my insides with every kind of starch on the table, I’ll be making myself an amaro caldo, or hot amaro, which makes an appearance in PUNCH’s latest book, Winter Drinks. More or less the equivalent of a liquid sleeping pill—trust me, and be warned—this might be the ultimate nightcap: an amaro of your choosing (or a DIY blend!) plus hot water and maybe a citrus peel, expressed, for good measure. It’s an easy, versatile recipe that doubles as a digestif. And on Thanksgiving, what more could you ask for?

Separatist Beer Project, Cuvée Fay | Allison Hamlin, Partnerships Manager
Thanksgiving seems like a good time to explore the crossovers of all things, particularly where drinks are concerned. Wine barrel-aged saisons tick all the right boxes for the holiday: They’re largely high-acid and perfect for a wine lover’s palate, but they’re low-octane enough to keep drinking right on through your second helping of stuffing. Right now, I’m really into Separatist Beer Project’s Cuvée Fay, a rustic, wine barrel-fermented saison with rose petals, chrysanthemum and chamomile aged in French barriques. Though the description may sound reminiscent of nana’s potpourri vase, the finished beer is light on its feet with a softly frothy head—perfect for all-day drinking.

The Pine at Olmsted | Jason Diamond, Deputy Editor
I’m honestly super lazy when it comes to serving drinks during Thanksgiving. I’m tasked with some of the cooking and nearly all of the dishes, so I’m not above just buying a bunch of bottles of wine and a 24-pack of beer and telling my guests to have at it. But this year I’ve been inspired by my neighborhood standby, Olmsted, to think otherwise. I’ll be serving a version of their Pine, a Negroni variation that calls on gin, Campari, Zirbenz Stone Pine Liqueur, vermouth and a touch of Amaro Braulio; it’s got all of the cooling herbal notes that I crave at Thanksgiving.

All The Wine | Jon Bonné, Senior Contributing Editor
I’m celebrating Thanksgiving in Paris once again, so we’ll start with Champagne, of course—including a bottle of Philipponnat Clos des Goisses 2009, which was essential single-vineyard Champagne before anyone knew what that was. Then white wine, in my case a Domaine Santamaria Blanc from Corsica, with its herbal, wild side. There will be Chablis. Reds will probably be Burgundy, although I might sneak in a bottle of Bordeaux, because Bordeaux is back, y’all. For cheese, I’ve got a bottle of Peyre Rose Oro from 2001, one of the important white wines of southern France; its years-long aging and deep texture gives it an impression more like aged fino sherry or Jura wine. And, now that I’m thinking about it, I need to grab a bottle of vintage Chartreuse, because you need to burn a hole through all that Thanksgiving richness… and because, tradition.

Bertoux Brandy | Robert Simonson, Contributing Editor
I’ve been semi-obsessed with domestic brandy upgrades for a few years now. (It’s probably a genetic thing shared by all Wisconsinites.) But until now, it’s been a fairly easy thing to be obsessed about, because there hasn’t been too much of it going on. Heaven Hill goosed the fusty old Christian Brothers brand when it came out with the excellent, and affordable, Sacred Bond bottled-in-bond brandy in 2016. And Louisville’s Copper & Kings has put out a whole raft of quality craft brandies. But, with Bertoux Brandy, released this year, the movement seems to be finally picking up some momentum. Bertoux, the work of bartender Jeff Bell and sommelier Thomas Pastuszak, is a blend of pot-stilled California brandies aged from three to seven years. It has enough depth and character to stand up to straight sipping, but for my money it performs best in cocktails like the Sidecar, Metropolitan and Brandy Old-Fashioned. And, like the other brands I mentioned, it’s priced well, which is key to domestic brandy making headway with American drinkers.

Tuyo Mezcal Copitas | Megan Krigbaum, Contributing Editor
A few years back, Gabriel Velazquez Zazueta and Sabrina Lessard visited Oaxaca and fell hard for mezcal. “I realized that this distillate carries all the meaning and intention of my culture,” says Zazueta, who grew up in Mexico City in the 1980s and ’90s. “It captures the land, the people and their rituals.” Of this was born Tuyo, their burgeoning copita company in collaboration with ceramicist Michiko Shimada in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint. The De La Tierra line is slip-cast in vibrant tinted porcelain—cherry red, sky blue and lemony yellow—and left unglazed so that you can feel the soft, matte clay in your fingers as you sip, giving tactility to a drink that deserves it and adding color to any Thanksgiving table.

L’Encantada Armagnacs | Aaron Goldfarb, Contributor
Like every other bourbon dude who has grown out of his chasing-the-dragon phase—tired of over-hyped bottles and the resulting explosion in secondary costs—I’ve started gravitating toward Armagnac. You can still get some pretty insane bottles—both in taste and age—for less than the cost of a Weller 12 at your local price-gouging liquor store. That’s especially true if you live in New York or Los Angeles, where Astor Wines and K&L get single casks from L’Encantada, a bottler of six small domaines. My favorites have tended to be from the Lous Pibous Estate, whose selections are aged in new charred oak and often, yes, quite bourbon-like. Unfortunately, these have also found their way to the whiskey secondary market and prices have gone up. So, I guess by next Thanksgiving I’ll have moved onto… grappa?

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