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What We’re Drinking This Thanksgiving

November 17, 2021

Story: Punch Staff

photo: Lizzie Munro


What We’re Drinking This Thanksgiving

November 17, 2021

Story: Punch Staff

photo: Lizzie Munro

From a sherry-laced Negroni to an amari "set-up" and more.

For many, this Thanksgiving will mark a stark contrast to last year’s subdued celebrations. In lieu of raising a glass together via Zoom, most of us are anticipating IRL get-togethers, both small and large, with friends and family—and with that comes the all-important question of what to bring. For the Punch staff in years past, this question has been answered with amaro caldo, Perfect Manhattans and a glut of Thanksgiving wine. This year, in addition to the usual suspects, we’ll be sharing an array of aperitivo cocktails, amari and, naturally, lots of wine. If low-ABV—or sake for that matter, or even, yes, turkey-steeped whiskey—is more your speed, we’ve got you covered there too. Here’s what the Punch staff, contributors and collaborators will be toasting with this year.

Al Culliton | Founder, Al's Cocktail Club

I’m hosting this year and kicking things off with a round of New English Negronis. Bonded apple brandy, oloroso sherry, Braulio and Averna, a small measure of local maple syrup and a pinch of salt, garnished with an orange twist. It hits a lot of autumnal notes beyond apple―nuttiness, bitter citrus peel and spices―and presages the holiday season ahead with Braulio’s coniferous quality.

Leslie Pariseau | Founder, Patron Saint Wines

Punta Crena Cruvin Colline Savonesi: On the western coast of Liguria, Punta Crena’s stone-terraced vineyards produce some of the region’s most underrated gems under the care of Tommaso Ruffino and his siblings (their family has been at it for over five centuries). Apparently, “cruvin,” a grape native to the region, means “to fall,” and refers to the fact that the grapes tumble from the vine, unprovoked, when ready for harvest. It feels appropriate for the season. (On the flip side, their savory, salt-washed vermentino and pigato are wonderful summer wines.) A little bit juicy with great minerality and some subtle umami, the Cruvin is a wine that goes with just about everything.

Brad Thomas Parsons | Author, Last Call and Amaro

Thanksgiving is the perfect occasion to go all in on American-made amaro, and I always turn to a flight of a few bittersweet bottles with some mismatched glassware and allow guests to serve themselves. Some of my go-tos include St. Agrestis Amaro (cinnamon, sarsaparilla, spearmint), High Wire Distilling Co. Southern Amaro (tangerine, black tea, wild mint), Forthave Spirits Marseille Amaro (eucalyptus, vanilla, wild honey) and Faccia Brutto Amaro Gorini (sweet and bitter orange peel, allspice, cardamom). On the Italian front, I can’t get enough of Ischia Sapori Amaro alla Rucola, better known as Rucolino, which hails from the volcanic island of Ischia in the Gulf of Naples. The cola-colored, medium-bodied amaro has a slight vegetal quality from the wild arugula that gives it its name, balanced with warm citrus notes and a lingering bitterness.

Briana Volk | Co-owner, Portland Hunt + Alpine Club

This holiday, I am sticking to low-/no-alcohol drinks, so I have been loving Reverse Martinis [try an Astoria or Allies Cocktail]. It’s nice to be able to have one or two without getting tipsy. We also batch them ahead of time, so we have a bottle or two in the freezer just waiting to be served.

Allies Martini Cocktail Recipe

Allies Cocktail

A 50/50 Martini dressed up with several dashes of savory-spicy Kümmel.

Astoria Martini Cocktail Recipe


Meet the inverted Martini.

Best Frozen Martini

Bobby Heugel’s Freezer Martini

An archetypal London dry-style Martini.

Danny Chau | Contributor, Punch

As a resident of the future (i.e., Toronto, where Thanksgiving has been in the rearview for more than a month), November 25 will be just another day—except it won’t be uncouth when I crack open a noontime kölsch for the annual Detroit Lions holiday-game collapse. But to battle Instagram dinner plate FOMO, I’ll reach for an unconventional bottle: Shichi Hon Yari 80%, a gorgeous, full-bodied junmai from Tomita, one of the oldest sake breweries in Japan. With only 20 percent of the rice’s outer layer polished off, the sake is encouraged to embrace the more robust qualities of sake: a buttery mouthfeel that expresses itself both cold and hot, and a palate that spotlights an earthy, mushroomy complexity. It’s an ideal, if unexpected, complement to a Popeyes biscuit stuffing or a Trini macaroni pie—a sake for Thanksgiving’s sake.

Chloe Frechette | Senior Editor, Punch

I’m one of those people who has no interest in cooking (I do love eating, though) so my biggest prerogative every Thanksgiving is staying out of the kitchen and out of the way until it’s time to eat. I do this by batching cocktails ahead of time and keeping them in the freezer so that I can make a swift in-and-out trip without aggravating whoever is actually helping in the kitchen. While I don’t endorse being the idle Thanksgiving-goer, if you’re going to be that person, at least do it with a batched cocktail in hand—after all, it’s hard to stay mad at the person doling out freezer Martinis, Negronis and Manhattans.

Aaron Goldfarb | Author, Hacking Whiskey

Call me extra or call me susceptible to clever marketing, but I just don’t see any way I’m not going to drink Bird of Courage. If, for years, the stupid joke amongst bourbon dorks was to have a few glasses of Wild Turkey (ha-ha) on Thanksgiving, New Hampshire’s Tamworth Distilling has actually enabled a way for some to drink their dinner. Mad scientist distiller Matt Powers took a barrel of Tamworth’s 5-year-old bottled-in-bond bourbon and steeped it with freshly roasted turkey, along with other flavors of a traditional New England Thanksgiving, including locally sourced apples, cranberries, kabocha squash, celery, parsley, sage, flint corn and chestnuts. Call it gimmicky, call it a little too on-the-nose, but damn, I can’t wait to try it.

Megan Krigbaum | Contributing Editor, Punch

Last Thanksgiving, I flew through Kingston Wine Shop on the way to an Airbnb upstate and found a bottle of sparkling (sekt) riesling from Weiser-Künstler, a producer in the Mosel that I adore very much. And if fate were on my side, I’d make the whole thing happen again because it was exacting and pleasing in all the right ways, and I definitely drank more than my fair share of that bottle. But in the event that kismet is not on my side, I have been amassing bottles of Domaine des Ardoisières Silice Rouge, which is like the little hug we all could use right about now. It’s not the fancy Ardoisières mondeuse; it’s the everyday mondeuse, with flavors of fresh elderberry and twiggy herbs and the lightness demanded by too many potatoes. We’ll close out the night with Boulevardiers, as one should.

Jack Schramm | Co-founder, Solid Wiggles

Philippe Pacalet is one of the most widely respected négociant producers in Burgundy. He studied under the legendary Jules Chauvet, one of the godfathers of the natural wine movement in France, and makes wine from some truly spectacular historic premier cru and grand cru vineyard sites with price points to match. Pacalet also makes cru Beaujolais with gamay from a vineyard in Moulin-à-Vent. It may not be grand cru pinot noir, but its combination of structure, acid and elegance cuts through the richness of gravy and stuffing without burying the lighter salads and sides—truly a perfect Thanksgiving wine, with a comparatively lighter hit to the pocketbook. In addition, I’ll also be bringing my own Solid Wiggles holiday centerpiece jelly cake! Our latest offering combines rum cask–finished Scotch with acid-adjusted orange, spiced cranberry and brown sugar milk jelly. A perfect addition to your dessert spread and an unexpected nightcap.

Talia Baiocchi | Editor in Chief, Punch

This is the first year, in all of my years, that I will not be having Thanksgiving dinner in some capacity. Instead, I impulse-bought tickets to Copenhagen, where I plan to drink all of the wine the Danes are willing to serve me. But let me tell you what I would bring, if I’d not decided to decamp: Proprietà Sperino’s Uvaggio, a longtime favorite of mine from the little-known Piemontese town of Lessona, located at the nape of the Italian Alps, northwest of Milan. It’s a blend of primarily nebbiolo, with a dose of both croatina and vespolina, two grapes that add a bit of weight to the wine. It’s released after nearly two years in wood and another extended period in bottle, giving it the kind of depth and maturity that can be tough to find at this price point. It’s exactly the kind of juicy, leathery Italian red I tend to reach for this time of year.

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