We don’t always think of cocktails and Thanksgiving as being an obvious match. In many cases, if you’re drinking on Thanksgiving (and I hope you are, responsibly), you’re probably drinking wine, as its lower alcohol content makes it easier to sip throughout the day without winding up too tipsy for turkey.
But cocktails definitely have a place at least somewhere in the day. A lower-octane aperitif like a sherry-based cocktail or a spritz would be a great match with appetizers, and if there’s a happier pairing than mixed drinks and pie, well, friends, I can’t imagine what that might be.
Pie + Cocktails = <3
Having pumpkin pie? Something with allspice dram would be delicious with pumpkin or sweet potato pie—the Lion’s Tale gets my vote, especially as its backbone of lime juice helps it balance out the sweetness and richness of the pie.
Going the pecan route? Bourbon is an obvious candidate. A smooth one neat or as the base spirit in a highball would be delicious, as would a bourbon Manhattan with pecan or chocolate bitters instead of the traditional Angostura.
But it’s definitely fruit pies that are my favorites, and they’re what inspired the cocktail I created this evening: the Cherry Pie Sour.
A Whole World of Sours
Most of us think “whiskey” when we think “sour,” but you can use pretty much any spirit in a sour. (After all, what’s a Margarita but a tequila sour, and what’s a Gimlet but the same idea with gin?) Mix a spirit, acid (citrus), and sweet, and you’ve got yourself a sour.
Inspired by the sour’s flexibility, I riffed on the classic whiskey sour, subbing half of the whiskey (rye, in my recipe) with Cherry Heering, replacing lemon juice with lime (lime + cherry are a happier pairing in my book), and ramping down the simple syrup a bit due to the sweetness of the Heering.
I ended up with an easy-sipping drink with a nice sweet/sour balance (just like a good fruit pie), an interesting undercurrent of rye (as a stand-in for pie crust, kinda), and a fetching deep-red hue.
The basic template here is super flexible: use a different kind of brandy (Calvados, applejack, pear…) if you’ve got a different kind of pie. Mix and match the citrus. Use an infused simple syrup for an extra layer of complexity. Add egg white if you like your sours richer. Make this cocktail your own.
And if, like me, one of your Thanksgiving pleasures is eating pie for breakfast the next day, mix one of these up, serve it on the rocks with some club soda to lighten it up a bit, and raise a glass to all you have to be thankful for.
Cherry Pie Sour
Makes 1 drink
1 oz. rye whiskey
1 oz. cherry brandy (I used Cherry Heering)
1 oz. lime juice (use lemon or half and half if you prefer)
3/4 oz. simple syrup
Shake ingredients with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Enjoy with pie.