Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Sign in to follow this  
amccomb

memorable pre-dinner cocktails

Recommended Posts

Every year we have a big Thanksgiving dinner party with about 20 - 25 people. We have traditional dishes with an upscale twist, but lean towards more "gourmet" options for hors doeuvres. Normally, we serve a variety of wines from start to finish, but this year I would like to have some special pre-dinner cocktails. We would like to offer, maybe four options, ranging in flavors and dry/sweetness, and maybe with the addition of some unusual or really special ingrediants.

Any ideas? Do you need more information? I haven't fleshed out the menu yet, but I can try if that's very important.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

hmmm...I think we need more information? Seems a very wide open call for suggestions?

I'll just throw a few fun suggestions out, things we love to serve...

Ginger-ini's

White Cosmo's

Kir Royals with different exotic flavored liquors (even better if they were purchased in different countries!)

Montmartre- 1/2 vodka 1/2 lillet blanc

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm working on my menu right now, and am thinking of serving "Cranberry Bellinis" before getting down to business. These will need to be tweaked, but my going-in thought is: homemade cranberry puree, orange bitters and prosecco. Depending on whether the cranberry puree has enough sweet balance, I may soak a sugar cube in orange bitters and put that in the drink after the puree (but before the prosecco).


--

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mmm....those ALL sound great. It's been a long day.

So, the ideas I've been thinking about so far are:

-bourbon manhattans with my own brandied cherries

-a cocktail based off of something I had at Trio restaurant in Chicago which was a white port, sweet vermouth (which I am ordering from the same place that Trio got theirs), and toasted Thai long peppercorns

-something clean, lemony, and herby

-something with champagne (I love the cranberry idea, I was also considering pomegranate juice)

Should I list any potential menu items to help with pairings?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Traditional in our household at Thanksgiving is a version of the venerable St. Charles Punch, aka "Brandied Port":

2 oz port

1 oz decent-quality Spanish brandy

Squeeze of orange juice

Shake well with ice and strain into small wineglass; twist orange peel over the top. This is a wonderfully full, rich holiday-time drink. It engenders a mellow gloww in all who partake of its communion. One or two should do it, though.

For an orthodox St. Charles Punch, drop the orange, add 1/4 oz lemon juice, and serve over crushed ice in a tall glass with raspberries on top. More of a summer drink, this one (it hails from New Orleans's St. Charles Hotel, some time before 1862).


aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For thanksgiving and fall type menus I think bourbon or whiskey.

the Manhattans sound great (especially with home-made brandied cherries!)

also

Sazeracs

Mint Juleps will also contribute to a festive mood (but more than one before dinner is not suggested...)

On a non-bourbon front, I think that Negroni's go well with rich and earthy fall flavors.

These are all strong cocktails, so some lighter aperatifs like those suggested above are nice.

A lighter drink that I make often was published by Paul Albrecht in "Home Food":

"Campari, Vodka and Grapefruit Cooler"

For 6 drinks:

1 1/2 cups campari

1/2 cup vodka

2 cups fresh grapefruit juice

1 lime, thinly sliced

2 cups club soda

2 Tbs finely grated fresh ginger

1/2 cup sugar syrup

crushed ice

mint sprigs

First mix everything but the sugar syrup. Then mix in the sugar syrup. Pour over crushed ice and garnish with mint.

Very refreshing drink... (don't know if the club soda seems off this time of year, but the grapefruit, ginger, lime, campari is a sprightly combination--maybe could fulifill your quest for "citrusy and herbal"?


Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Traditional in our household at Thanksgiving is a version of the venerable St. Charles Punch, aka "Brandied Port":

2 oz port

1 oz decent-quality Spanish brandy

Squeeze of orange juice

Dave, this sounds good. What type of port? Will the cheaper ones do?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd suggest Asian Pear Margaritas, which is what I'd make that is autumnal inspired, but that only works if you have access to the Asian Pear cider we can get here in Philly from a local orchard.

No reason to think it wouldn't work with really good apple cider though. I usually put a good blob of frozen Minute Maid Limeade in the blender with 6 oz. of cider per drink, 2 oz. of tequila per drink and a healthy splash of Gran Gala (cheaper Grand Marnier). Lots of ice cubes, put on the lid and hit "puree". Delicious with the pear cider, it'd be worth giving it a test drive with apple cider. Or do a variation with brandy, or dark rum if you prefer. Sort of a frozen drink variant of the flavors you'd seek in a mulled cider.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i like the bellini idea-ever tried it with POM?


"Ham isn't heroin..." Morgan Spurlock from "Supersize Me"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How about a Sloe Negroni... Traditional recipe with 1/2 a measure of Sloe gin stirred into the mix.

Some flavours to add to the Bellini collection:

Fig & Vanilla

Strawberry & Basil

Back to the Sloe gin, how about a Sloe gin French 75 garnished with one of those delicious sounding brandied cherries

Cheers

Ian


Vist Barbore to see the Scottish scene.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The two things that have to be considered are: 1. how long/extensive will dinner last (which also related to the time of day it starts); and 2. how much alcohol will be consumed with dinner. These things should inform the alcoholic strength of the before-dinner cocktail.

Thanksgiving diner at the slkinsey household is a 9 course "tasting menu" that allocates close to a bottle of wine per person. It also goes from around 8:00 to around 11:00 before dessert. If I were to serve a Manhattan (several ounces of strong booze) before dinner, everyone would be asleep and/or completely shitfaced by the time the final course arrived. This is one reason I thought of making a cranberry Bellini (not, strictly speaking, a "cocktail"). Dave's drink also strikes me as a good one. It's a more traditionally cocktail-like, but it's still not going to pack too much of a kick before a big heavy dinner compared to a drink with several ounces of strong booze.


--

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How cold is the weather? A glass of mulled wine or mulled Port (a Bishop) is welcome if its cold.

I hot, what is wrong with a good champagne or a Manzanilla sherry?

I recently had kir royale made with a good sparkler and creme du peche - yummy, but not really a pre-dinner drink

I've never been a fan of spirit based drinks before dinner. They are only for those who drink water for the rest of the evening.

Restaurants serve mixed drinks because they can charge more for them, and because (at least in the UK) the laws about fair measures don't apply if there are three or more mixed ingredients

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmmm.....I never really thought about putting everyone to sleep before the evening started.

People start arriving at about 3:00. About an hour later, the drinks come out, as well as several hors doeuvres. An hour to two hours after that, dinner is served family style, and people heap their plates full. We sit at the table a couple of hours and talk, sip wine, laugh, etc. Then several of us go into the kitchen and make up doggy bags and put away leftovers. Then back into the dining room and living room for more wine, talking, etc. Sometimes people bring board games, sometimes a few people wander downstairs to watch "the big tv". Somehow, at around 10:00ish, everyone wanders back into the dining room for dessert and our friend Richie begs us to open a bottle of port, which we do. There is more sipping, talking, music, etc.

There is a lot of drinking, and always a few people spend the night and almost everyone else takes a taxi or gets a ride from one of the two non-drinkers.

The next morning around 10 am, I make a huge breakfast for the people who spend the night and anyone who shows up to pick up their car.

Does this scenario sound like we should lay off the idea of cocktails at 4:00 in the afternoon?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, unless the people you invite are used to drinking hard liquor in the middle of the afternoon...

3 to 4pm would be ideal for a glass of Madeira with a slice of seedcake...then open a bottle of champagne or two with the nibbles and to add the jollity that champagne always does. If people need it stronger or sweeter add some kir or brandy to their glass for a Champagne cocktail

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The two things that have to be considered are: 1. how long/extensive will dinner last (which also related to the time of day it starts); and 2. how much alcohol will be consumed with dinner.  These things should inform the alcoholic strength of the before-dinner cocktail.

Excellent point. My post notwithstanding regarding a penchant for bourbon in the autumn--I have switched to champagne and champagne cocktails b/4 Thanksgiving Day dinner for the last few years...


"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Does this scenario sound like we should lay off the idea of cocktails at 4:00 in the afternoon?

Not necessarily, but it does mean that you should consider the alcohol content. A champagne-based cocktail might be good, but definitely something that's not as alcoholic as a Manhattan or similar strong short drink.


--

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You could take the sherry route - a selection of styles would offer the range of tastes you desire, and not too alcoholic.


I love animals.

They are delicious.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
There is a lot of drinking, and always a few people spend the night and almost everyone else takes a taxi or gets a ride from one of the two non-drinkers.

The next morning around 10 am, I make a huge breakfast for the people who spend the night and anyone who shows up to pick up their car.

Does this scenario sound like we should lay off the idea of cocktails at 4:00 in the afternoon?

Hell no. But do pay attention to serving size and what you serve. I always feel that a pre-dinner drink should stimulate the appetite, not drown it with sugar or numb it with too much ethanol, so I try to make aperativi that are either small in serving size, or low in alcohol, but it certainly doesn't mean you can't have cocktails! Mine also tend towards the herbal-bitter side, because I love a drink with a bitter presence before dinner. The whole point of T-day is drink and eat all day, isn't it? And remember that you can turn almost any true cocktail into a "fizz" by shaking it, pouring it over ice, and topping with soda water. I think Chartreuse and Benedictine are overlooked ingredients when people consider pre-dinner drinks this time of year. They are both complex and match the flavors of the food and the season. I think there are even some drinks that use Chartreuse, Benedictine and dry sherry in combination, but I can't remember them right now. You might consider those. Sparkling wine based drinks are nice too, and offer plenty of ways to add in other flavors.

regards,

trillium

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm with trillium: there's nothing wrong with cocktails in a festive situation like this, but they should be small and there shouldn't be too many of them. 3-4 ounces is plenty big (that includes the 25% water that shaking/stirring adds), and there's something about breaking out the shaker, ceremonially measuring out the ingredients, waltzing the ice around (or foxtrotting it, if you prefer) and passing around the stemmed, v-shaped glass that brings everyone together. Port, sherry, madeira, champagne are all wonderful, but they do lack that aspect of ritual. Like any ritual, though, this one loses impact the more its repeated. A single round of, say, Suburban Cocktails (1 1/2 oz straight rye, 1/2 oz port, 1/2 oz Gosling's or Myers's rum, dash Peychaud's bitters, dash orange bitters), and everyone's still alert and ready for action; 7 rounds of them, and not so much.

--DW

P.S. As for the port in the St. Charles Punch (or "Brandied Port," or "Sensation"), I generally use a ruby.


aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think a pre-dinner cocktail is in order.......

A couple of Thanksgivings ago I had a cocktail at the W Hotel here in Seattle that I still think about today. It was a quince manhattan that was fantastic. I have no idea how they did the quince puree that went into it, but I'll do a little research and see if I can find out.


Practice Random Acts of Toasting

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think a pre-dinner cocktail is in order.......

A couple of Thanksgivings ago I had a cocktail at the W Hotel here in Seattle that I still think about today. It was a quince manhattan that was fantastic. I have no idea how they did the quince puree that went into it, but I'll do a little research and see if I can find out.

I buy quince paste to go with my cheese, could they have just used that?? Whipped it up a bit?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think a pre-dinner cocktail is in order.......

A couple of Thanksgivings ago I had a cocktail at the W Hotel here in Seattle that I still think about today. It was a quince manhattan that was fantastic. I have no idea how they did the quince puree that went into it, but I'll do a little research and see if I can find out.

Oooh, I would love to figure out how they did it. I made some quince jam a few weeks ago and plan on making quince jelly with rosemary next weekend. The smell is heavenly. :wub:

I am getting so many ideas, I am thinking that my husband's 30th birthday party (mid-December) should be a cocktail party. I have about 20 ideas for hors doeuvres, a couple of ideas for miniature sweets, and now all of these wonderful sounding cocktails. I normally do mulled wine, cider, spiked hot cocoa (his favorite contains 1/2 shot creme de menthe and a shot of irish whisky), coffee drinks, and egg nog for his birthday.

This year, our Thanksgiving feast falls on MY 30th birthday, so I am planning on making it memorable. :biggrin:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I found a recipe for quince syrup that I think would work in a cocktail. All of the other recipes I found were for savory dishes......

For the syrup, you quarter and core two pounds of quince and either process them through a juicer or wrap it in cheesecloth and cook it in 2 cups of water for 30 minutes.

If processed it through a juicer, bring 4 cups water and 4 cups sugar to a boil and add the quince juice and 1/4 cup lime juice and cook for 30 minutes.

If you steeped the quince in the cheesecloth, after the initial 30 minutes add 2 more cups of water, 2 cups sugar (only half is used in this method, taste and add more as necessary) and cook for another 30 minutes. Remove and squeeze the cheesecloth and add 1/4 cup lime juice.

I'm going to have to see when I can get quince in the markets here in Seattle and give it a try.


Practice Random Acts of Toasting

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm going to have to see when I can get quince in the markets here in Seattle and give it a try.

I've seen them at the UDist Market, in one of the stands up by the strudel lady, pasta person and bella's buns!

Perfect! I'll have to pick some up this weekend. Thanks LMF!


Practice Random Acts of Toasting

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...