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A Drinker's Thanksgiving Survival Guide


Thanksgiving is here and that means 3 things - food, football and family. And while the first two are worth raising a glass for, the third is worth downing it.

Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing my family. But, if you’re like me, there’s a reason you don’t still live at home. It might be your crazy, live-in uncle’s conspiracy theories or mom’s relentless push for more grandchildren. Whatever it is, there’s no escaping it come November.

Don’t fret, we’ve got the perfect survival pack (of sorts) for you - five recipes that are sure to please your palate and help you love your family until next Thanksgiving (or until the buzz wears off).

Simple, strong and effective, these cocktails are easily made with whatever’s on hand and will quickly earn you respect as the MacGuyver boozehound of the holiday table. The only required equipment is your glass, but even that’s optional for the truly desperate (be resourceful, use the gravy ladle if necessary).

Whiskey-Spiced Cider

Ingredients: Rye Whiskey, Hot Apple Cider

Pairs with: Apple Pie a la mode, Armchair economists a la your great-uncle

To ease the transition into fake smiles and feigned interest, grab a mug and head straight for the hot apple cider. Fill it about 3/4 of the way and excuse yourself to the restroom, cider in hand and flask concealed. Top off with a rye whiskey of your choice. As a Nashville native, I'm contractually obligated to recommend Corsair’s Ryemageddon or Dickel Rye. If you’re on a tight budget because your mom invited herself over for Christmas which means massive cleaning bills, Old Overholt Straight Rye will do the trick and leave you a couple bucks richer.

Stir with your finger and sip down to the original level lest anyone become suspicious. Repeat as necessary.

Spiced Tea-quila (Get it?)

Ingredients: Spiced Tea, Tequila (should definitely have gotten it by now)

Pairs with: Cranberry stuffing, Not stuffing your nephews into a car trunk

Ever since I can remember, my family has made a spiced tea by combining black tea with orange juice, cloves, and cinnamon. It’s one of my favorite drinks of all time. The only way it could get better is if I had a pot of it all to myself to enjoy in solitude. But since I don’t know the secret recipe, I have to make the experience tolerable.

Enter: tequila.

Use the same technique as before (mention something about an intestinal parasite so all these bathroom breaks make sense).

Your family may not have a spiced tea like mine, but there’s bound to be something of a citrus nature that can act as the perfect tequila “concealer.” Check the fridge and blame it on your doctor (intestinal parasite, remember?). Vitamin C is always important this time of year - there’s gotta be some cranberry juice hanging around somewhere. Be sure to get the cranberry cocktail because cranberry juice on it’s own is a little, well, not good (though beggars can’t be choosers).

123 Organic Tequila is a good choice if you’re environmentally conscious. Heck, it’s a great choice, even if you aren’t. And seriously, try to make some spiced tea. You’ll thank my grandma when you do.


Ingredients: Black coffee, rum, milk and sugar to taste

Pairs with: Pecan and Pumpkin pies, Pieholes that won’t close

Maybe you were brought up in a family like mine where nothing is off limits. Everyone talks about everything. Bodily functions. What the neighbors are up to. How if a democrat gets elected again, we’re all moving to Canada (hey, they've got a Thanksgiving too). When you’re from the South, it seems like everything is open for discussion amongst family. Which isn’t cool sometimes.

What is cool is how well rum mixes with pretty much everything (fruit juice, ginger beer, ice cream, chocolate, egg nog, cider, sodas...the list goes on). However, for long nights of family discussion (and to take the edge off), I recommend mixing it with coffee.

Get a pot warmed up. Everyone will appreciate it and you’ll have something to mix with either some Rogue Hazelnut Spice Rum for nuttiness or New Holland Huron if you prefer silver. The sweetness of the rum goes well with the bitterness of your apathy, ahem coffee. Add a little milk and sugar and you’ve got yourself a fine cup of making it until dessert.

Gin-folk (like kin-folk, but with gin)

Ingredients: Mulled Cranberry juice (or whatever punch is around), Gin

Pairs with: Pre-dinner football, the uncle that could've gone pro

It takes a special kind of person to fully enjoy an evening with family. And that person typically has a little help. So instead of keeping your secret to Thanksgiving happiness all to yourself, go ahead and share.

Make your way over to the communal drink, whether it’s tea, punch, cider, mulled cranberry juice, etc., and add some Thanksgiving cheer. Trust us, everyone wants this. And you’ll see - they’re about to get a lot happier.

I may be putting myself at risk of playing favorites with brands, but Corsair Gin is designed to be mixed. It's smooth, a little sweet and doesn't overpower a drink with botanicals. A real crowd-pleaser, don’t get stingy while spiking the punch.

Vod-kan’t Mess This One Up

Ingredients: Vodka, Anything (seriously)

Pairs with: Anything (seriously)

Let’s not get too detailed here. Vodka mixes with just about anything. I think the first time I got drunk, it was on vodka and Coke. So go crazy. Grab a drink. Put vodka in it. It's probably not that bad. And if it is, just keep drinking - it’ll start to taste better soon.

Now, in all honesty, Thanksgiving is great. It’s a time to see family you don’t see at any other time during the year. This is when traditions are born and instilled. When stories and history are passed down from one generation to the next. A time to reflect and be thankful for all that you have.

So don’t get too caught up in trying to just “get through” the holiday. Quite simply, you can’t - it’s only the beginning of the season and you've got shopping to do. Might as well embrace it and supplement those warm and fuzzy feelings of the holiday with a drink.

Rod Waynick

Rod is a foodie in the sense that he eats several times a day. He's a writer, woodworker, and whiskey drinker. Keep up on Twitter @rodwaynick