Let’s face it, we all need a little something to help wash down that turkey (and our families). I’m skipping the familial drama this year in favor of a Friendsgiving, but that’s all the more reason to procure some top-notch mirth-making supplies. I reached out to L.A.’s pros to recommend the ultimate wines, beers, and a festive punch to pair with my holiday meal.
I always like to welcome guests with something strong to help loosen everyone up and kick-off the pre-dinner mingling. Lindsay Nader has been mixing tasty and intoxicating drinks all over town, including stints at the Edison and her current haunt, Harvard & Stone. Most recently she competed in the Miss Speed Rack L.A. competition, an all ladies mix-off and breast cancer benefit, and broke the record for fasted qualifying time (three drinks at 37 seconds!). She’s also an all-around great gal, so I asked if she wouldn’t mind coming up with a Thanksgiving punch that would appeal to my husband’s scotch fetish without overwhelming the light liquor drinkers. I’m thrilled with what she came up with:
The Bird’s The Word Punch
“It’s slightly smoky and sweet from the scotch and sweet vermouth, with a touch of acidity from pineapple and lemon, then finishing with holiday spices like clove, cinnamon and nutmeg.”
1 Liter Black Grouse Scotch
10 oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
10 oz Pineapple Juice
6 oz Lemon Juice
4 oz Simple Syrup, add more or less to taste
1.5 oz St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
8 oz Chilled water for dilution
Top with Piper Heidsieck
In a Punch bowl, add all ingredients except chilled water and wine, refrigerate for 2 hours, or until chilled. Add ice and stir in Water and sparkling White Wine, Garnish with Pineapple slices.
Randy Clement over at Silver Lake Wine has curated the wine list for my wedding, my husband’s big birthdays, and just about every one of my dinner parties. My first thanksgiving is no exception. Here, Randy suggests the ideal (and affordable) bottles for the holiday’s beginning, middle, and end.
Cava – Mercat Brut, non-vintage ($14.17 w/tax)
“Cava is a great, inexpensive champagne alternative. They make it in Penedes, one of the only places in the world where the laws for making sparkling wines are the same for making champagne. The result is really clean, crisp, and vibrant, with strong bubbles. It’s refreshing and versatile but won’t overwhelm light appetizers.”
White: Kuentz-Bas Alsace Blanc 2009 ($13.50 w/tax)
“This is an everyday blend of 60% Sylvanner, 15% Muscat, 15% Auxerrois, and 10% Chasselas. At Thanksgiving there can be a lot going on in terms of flavors. This wine is really versatile. It’s aromatic but not sweet at all—delicately fruity. It’s a clean, crisp white.”
Red (Traditional): Domaine Faury Syrah 2010 ($24 w/tax)
“This is from the northern Rhone region in France. Domaine Faury is one of those classic father-son operations, and the wines they make are definitely traditional wines. Classically, Syrahs have a lot of power and a telltale white pepper notes. This definitely has that. This is their entry-level wine, so it’s made to be drunk much earlier than some of their other ones. Decant for 10 minutes and you’re good to go.”
Red (Esoteric): Sean Thackrey “Pleiades XXI” Old Vines Red ($26 w/tax)
“Sean makes wine up in Bellinas in northern California. All the wines that he makes are named after constellations, and non-vintage. These are field blends. Usually, that means you take grapes from this area of your property and that area and mix them. But Sean intermingles the grapes when he plants them. The vineyard by his house has eucalyptus trees nearby, so a lot of times these wines have earthy, funky, eucalyptus notes—but in a good way. This one is bottled in February 2011 and includes Sangiovese, Viognier, Mourvedre, Syrah, and Pinot Noir to name some. It’s a really interesting blend you don’t typically see.”
Yves Cuilleron Roussilliere MMX ($37 w/tax)
“This dessert wine is also from the Rhone. It’s a blend of Marsanne, Roussane, and Viognier. This guy is a rock star in the Rhone world. This bottle is sweet, but not over-the-top. It’s amber colored and tastes of apricots, peach, and stone fruit. Serve it chilled.”
Thanksgiving is a versatile meal, and sometimes it’s nice to mix up the beverages. I’m lucky enough to live within a short walk of Eagle Rock Brewery, and Jeremy Raub and Ting Su have become invaluable when it comes to recommending beers. Here, Ting suggests some Thanksgiving-friendly brews:
“For the pre-dinner munchies, I think a good double IPA and cheese plate is good. For the rich foods that are served at the main meal, I would recommend something with a decent amount of hops but without being overpowering. Something along the lines of a good pale ale or extra pale ale. Examples would be Alesmith’s X, Strand Brewing’s pale, or of course Revolution. For the people who aren’t as into hops, I would also offer a good porter (Sierra Nevada porter, Samuel Smith’s Taddy Porter) as an alternative to the pale ale. I like Great Divide’s Smoked Baltic Porter. The smoke offers an interesting element but is subdued enough that it doesn’t conflict with food pairings too much. A good Belgian holiday ale (thinking Scaldis Noel), or a nice spiced ale for dessert would be the best bet.”
Thanks everyone! Now, back to the brine….