Drink Local: It’s Another Thanksgiving Sunrise…

I’ll keep this short because, well, I know you’re slammed with preparations for the Big Day. Maybe you’ve got pies in the oven, turkey brining in the fridge (or already in the smoker)… or you’re just scratching your head trying to figure out where everything and everyone is going to fit. I feel ya!

Come Thanksgiving day, when the hardcore cooking gets underway, you might want to have an adult beverage by your side (just sayin’). How about a little sumpin’-sumpin’ that’s seasonal and tasty — not to mention made with organic ingredients — to keep you company while you’re whipping up some kitchen magic (or just escaping from the usual family holiday cray-cray)?

What you want to be drinking on Thanksgiving day
What you want to be drinking on Thanksgiving day

Inspired by our warmer, late-fall weather — forecast of high 60’s for the 650! — and a bounty of seasonal fruits, I’m going California retro: pairing Satsuma mandarin oranges (available everywhere right now), cranberries, and tequila. Yes, it’s a Thanksgiving Sunrise. (Anyone else hear The Eagles singing in the background?) Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Recipe: Thanksgiving Sunrise
Yield: 1 cocktail
I’ve used all organic ingredients for this recipe (hey, it’s my first all-organic cocktail recipe!), but feel free to use what you have on hand. Oh, and you might just want to wait until the sun is over the yardarm before imbibing. Or not.

You’ll need a double old-fashioned glass, long-handled spoon, shot glass with measurement markings or measuring spoons, and ice.

Note that I’ve given the ingredients in ounces. If you’re using measuring spoons,
2 ounces = 4 tablespoons, 1 ounce = 2 tablespoons, ½ ounce = 1 tablespoon

3 ounces freshly squeezed organic Satsuma mandarin juice
1½ ounces reposado tequila (I’m loving organic Casa Nobles, but Tres Agaves is a very good option as well)
1½ teaspoons cranberry syrup (see below)
½ – 1 teaspoon grenadine syrup (to taste, if you prefer a slightly sweeter cocktail)

How To:

  1. Combine the tequila and fresh mandarin juice in a double old-fashioned glass (or a large juice glass, if that’s what you have on hand) with several ice cubes. Using a long-handled spoon, stir about 10 seconds until the liquids are combined and chilled.
  2. Add the cranberry syrup (and grenadine, if you’re using it). Stir to combine.
    Sure, that pousse café thing looks cool at first, but your drink will taste better when everything is combined, so give it a decent stir.
  3. Add ice to fill the glass to the top.
  4. Drink. Adjust if necessary. Breathe.ingredients-1


Recipe: Cranberry Syrup
Yield: About 3.5 ounces syrup (or about 10 teaspoons)
This syrup adds a seasonal, sweet-tart twist to cocktails or non-alcoholic spritzers (just combine with sparkling water and tangerine juice or apple cider). Feeling adventurous? Try it on waffles or pancakes with whipped cream for a sweet treat or with a little crumbled bacon for something more savory. The leftover “smoosh” from straining the syrup makes a sweet-tart condiment for turkey sandwiches.

What you need:

Kitchen scale
1-quart saucepan
Fine-mesh strainer
Small container or bowl to hold the strainer
Rubber spatula
Glass or plastic container with lid for storing the syrup and “smoosh”


4.5 ounces cranberries (I used organic, thanks to my CSA delivery)
4.5 ounces cane sugar (organic cane sugar complements the fruit without overwhelming it with a supersweet, granulated-sugar flavor)
6.5 ounces of filtered water

Three ingredients for cranberry syrup: cranberries (natch!), cane sugar, and filtered water
Three ingredients for cranberry syrup: cranberries (natch!), cane sugar, and filtered water

How to:

  1. Combine the berries, sugar, and water in the pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
    Be sure to lightly cover the pan with a lid, as the berries will pop as they heat up. (I set the lid at a slight angle so that steam can escape.) You don’t want cranberry spray all over your backsplash.

    Cranberries and sugar in the pot
    Cranberries and sugar in the pot
  2. Immediately reduce the heat to low-medium to medium (depending on the power of your burner), keeping the mixture at a low boil/simmer for about 10-12 minutes.
    Make sure you’re stirring the mixture regularly and using the rubber spatula to break up the berries in the pot. I press the spatula against the berries until they pop. After 10-12 minutes, you’ll have what looks like a cranberry compote.
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing down just lightly with the spatula to extract the syrup from the compote.
    Strain the cranberry compote through a fine-mesh strainer to extract the syrup
    Strain the cranberry compote through a fine-mesh strainer to extract the syrup

    Don’t press too hard, or you’ll end up with a grainy syrup, which you’ll have to strain a second time. Also, keep in mind that cranberries are high in pectin, so they’ll set up more quickly than other berries (e.g., raspberries or blueberries) if you cook out too much water. If your syrup thickens too much as it cools, you might need to add some water to thin it.

  4. Let the syrup cool a bit (it should still feel warm to the touch, but not boiling hot), then dip a spoon in it to see how thick it is. If you prefer a thinner syrup, stir in 1/2 – 3/4 ounce of boiling water.
  5. Scrape the “smoosh” (cranberry skins, pulp, and seeds) from the strainer into a separate container and store in the refrigerator.
    You can use this compote as condiment for turkey sandwiches, but it will likely need a touch of acid for balance. Adjust it to your taste by adding a touch of balsamic vinegar or freshly squeezed orange juice.
  6. Allow the syrup to cool completely to room temperature. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.syrup-bottle

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