Thanksgiving is quickly approaching and it can be difficult to come up with a good Thanksgiving cocktail. For the How I Met Your Mother fans out there, you might recall Barney's Thanks-tini, the disgusting combination of cranberry juice, potato vodka, and... a bouillon cube. Thankfully, the Apple-Thyme cocktail does not attempt to recreate all Thanksgiving flavors in one glass and instead combines thyme with apple brandy, a delicious combination which solidifies it as my go-to Thanksgiving cocktail!
1 1/2 ounces of fresh apple cider (ideally cloudy in appearance)
1 ounce bourbon
1 ounce Laird's bonded apply brandy (or calvados)
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1/2 ounce lemon juice
Dash of Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel-Aged Bitters (or other old-fashioned bitters such as Angostura)
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
Add sprigs of thyme and lemon juice to shaker. Muddle well. Add apple cider, bourbon, apple brandy, simple syrup, bitters, and ice. Shake well. Double strain into coupe or martini glass. Serve up and garnish with a sprig of thyme or slice of apple.
I cannot overstate how well herbs work in cocktails; they can brighten a summertime drink or add depth to a dark spirited drink. There are a few tips with it comes to working with herbs. First, always use fresh herbs. I know that it may be impossible to pick fresh herbs from a garden. I find it difficult since I live in a New York apartment without a terrace. So I always make sure to use herbs quickly after I purchase them.
There are a number of ways to incorporate herbs into a cocktail. One method is muddling, which I call for here. Muddling is easy since it uses a small amount of the herb and the maceration can release the flavors. Be sure to double strain your drinks to remove any small bits of the herb. Muddling does not work well for very woody herbs, like rosemary.
Another method is infusing simple syrup. This is very easy to do. When you finish making the simple syrup on the stove, remove it from the heat and drop in the herbs. Let it steep for 10 minutes or so and remove the herbs. The downside here is that you are stuck with simple syrup that is flavored, which is not as versatile. So unless you are going to use a particular herbal flavor a lot or are entertaining a lot of people, I would avoid this one. The exception is if you are using rosemary; this is the ideal method to incorporate rosemary in a cocktail.
The last method is to slap the herb between your hands and toss it in the drink. This really only works well with mint. The slapping breaks the membrane of the leaves and releases the flavor. This is only good for enhancing the aroma of the drink or only adding a light flavor of the herb.
So there you have the Apple-Thyme, the perfect drink for Thanksgiving. Just be sure to stock up on the ingredients as I can guarantee that your family will want some as well!