What We’re Into Right Now: Thanksgiving Edition

From Spanish Txakoli to hot Jägermeister, these are the drinks that will be on each of our holiday tables.

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.

Claus Preisinger “Puszta Libre!” 2018 | Allison Hamlin, Partnerships Manager
Thanksgiving is a time to come armed with wine for all, and this year I’m reaching into “I can’t believe it’s not Beaujolais” territory for something glou glou, yet off the beaten path. Claus is young talent in Austria’s Burgenland, and his carbonic-macerated zweigelt-St. Laurent blend is juicy, high acid and all cranberry and funk. Packaged in a slender soda-inspired bottle, this wine begs to be served with a slight chill alongside an endless variety of Thanksgiving foods. And with a sub-$20 price-point, you can bring a few bottles to share.

Hot Jägermeister | Chloe Frechette, Senior Editor
While it sounds like a punchline, New York’s Existing Conditions has introduced what has quickly become my favorite cold-weather go-to: hot Jägermeister. The bar team heats the herbal liqueur with a Dave Arnold-designed hot poker, thrust directly into the liquid, that reaches 1500 degrees celsius. The high temperature instantly caramelizes the sugar content and burns off a portion of the alcohol making for an especially easy-to-drink digestivo. While I don’t advise employing the hot poker method at home, Jägermeister simply heated on the stove-top and finished with a lemon twist will give any Hot Toddy a run for its money. Best of all, it can easily be scaled up.

Le Porte Saint Jean Anjou Blanc “Le Perlée” 2016 | Talia Baiocchi, Editor in Chief
Last year I recommended a two-drink pile-up of herb-infused Campari-sodas and Baudry Chinon. Henceforth we can just assume that an aperitivo drink is always just of frame and focus, instead, on the main event. There will be many wines on my Thanksgiving table, surely, but Le Porte Saint Jean’s “Le Perlée” will undoubtedly steal the show. This is chenin blanc just like I like it: rich and savory, almost lactic in texture, with acidity that’s down to spar. That depth comes courtesy of both vine age (60 to 90 years) and two years of aging in neutral barriques. This is one of those wines that will sate the nerds without alienating anyone in the process.

Octomore 10.3 | Aaron Goldfarb, Contributor
Every year, Islay distillery Bruichladdich releases another edition of what is literally the world’s most heavily peated single-malt Scotch. Despite seeming like a marketing ploy, Octomore shows remarkable refinement, stretching the limits of what flavors and nuances peat can impart. This 10th edition (which features four different bottlings—10.1, 10.2, 10.3 and 10.4) is statistically the least peated release from the entire series. Still, upon cracking open the bottle, campfire could be smelled from across the room. My favorite, and what I’ll be sipping post-Thanksgiving dinner, is 10.3., a six-year-old, cask-strength release using 100 percent Islay barley, whose flavor profile might best be described as liquid pastrami.

Gokujo Hojicha | Tatiana Bautista, Assistant Editor
Thanksgiving isn’t a big drinking holiday for my family, so that’s one less thing to worry about prepping ahead of time. This year, I’ll be bringing a bag of loose leaf Gokujo Hojicha from Ippodo Tea to accompany our dessert. Hojicha has a pleasantly roasted, smoky green tea flavor that’s pretty light-bodied, making it the perfect candidate to complement all those rich, buttery pies. Since it’s tea, it’ll be easy to transport—crucial when you’re already lugging a casserole dish and a tote full of Tupperware on a train ride—and whatever is leftover can be kept in the pantry for the next holiday gathering.

Grosjean Petite Arvine 2018 | Megan Krigbaum, Contributing Editor
Last week, I accidentally drank the wine that I wanted to drink with Thanksgiving and am now on a desperate search to find more of it. I’m writing an Italian wine book right now, so it’s all Italy all the time around here, and I’ve been pacing around in the Valle d’Aosta of late. While completely dry, Grosjean’s petite arvine makes me think of my favorite honey: It’s golden, with loud citrus and wild flowers that are capped with a lilt of orange blossom and crunchy sea salt, keeping the generosity of the wine in check. This will go well with the dozens of Island Creek oysters that are on their way, and also the roasted kabocha squash and the bitter green salad and whatever else comes its way. Now I just have to find a few more bottles.

Stravecchio Brandy | Robert Simonson, Contributing Editor
The first product the Italian distilling family Branca made was, of course, Fernet Branca. But the second, created in 1888, was a brandy called Stravecchio. It was the first Italian brandy to be exported, and reached the United States in 1900. But it disappeared sometime in the 1980s, when Americans interest in brown spirits faded. Now, Branca is finally bringing it back. The brandy is distilled from trebbiano grapes and the blend inside ranges from six to 17 years old. (Stravecchio means “extra old.”) It’s a gentle, approachable brandy with notes of apple, pear and butterscotch, and at $40 a liter, it’s an attractive alternative to Cognac. A warming glassful would make a nice capper to a Thanksgiving dinner. Or do what the Italians do, and pour a bit in your coffee.

CO Cellars BDE | Kaitlin Bray, Director of Audience Development
I enjoying cooking with a glass of wine in hand as much as the next guy, but as one of the designated Thanksgiving day cooks, that would almost certainly lead to disaster, or at least burnt pies. This year, I’ll be in Vermont, and I have lofty intentions to alternate small glasses of CO Cellars’ BDE with large glasses of water while I dutifully crimp pie crust. The limited release, a collaboration between ZAFA Wines and Shacksbury, features locally grown sour cherries soaked in 2018 Shacksbury Cider with Vermont maple syrup as tirage for keg conditioning, and that sounds too good to pass up. Since I’m bringing food to the table, I’m leaving it up to the others to provide the drinks. Family, if you’re reading this, please bring good wine.

Txakoli | Lizzie Munro, Art Director
The greatest Thanksgiving meal I’ve ever had was three years ago, at Taberna la Tana, a phenomenal little wine bar in Granada, Spain. Absent was turkey and Beaujolais; present was a searing-hot crock of olive oil-doused broad beans nestled beneath a thin layer of barely crisp jamon, and a glass of 1982 PX sherry, among other things. (Needless to say, I am not a fan of the archetypal November tradition.) This year, once again, I’m preparing to step on a plane, with my family this time, and head towards San Sebastián. While there won’t be any stuffing in our future, I’ll still toast the holiday with a tumbler of Txakoli, probably alongside an order of ribeye—though frankly, a glass of the stuff would be a pretty good match for a classic Thanksgiving meal, too.

Light Years, Houston, Texas | Leslie Pariseau, Features Editor
This year, I’m headed to Houston to visit my aunt and uncle who are not very into Thanksgiving food. Which, tbh, I don’t really care about either. And because it’s Texas, we’re going to sit on the back porch, grill steaks and drink spritzes. But before that, I’m headed to Light Years, a new wine shop in Montrose, to grab a few bottles for patio-drinking. Opened by a couple of guys from Long Island, it’s one of a myriad of bottle shops and bars focused on natural wines to open up over the last few years, and it’s holding down the scene right now for Houston. I’ll leave it to whomever is on the floor that day to steer me, but I know I’ll be leaving with at least one magnum—essential for celebrations—and something bubbly to follow the spritzes.