• Paige Latham Didora

Thanksgiving libations

Ah, Thanksgiving eve. It’s part of the drinking trifecta. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is one of the biggest going-out nights of the year right up there with New Year’s Eve and St. Patricks Day.

Personally, I am not a big holiday drinker… I’m more of a slow-and-steady kind of gal. If like me, you’d prefer to stay in while you’re prepping the big day meal – or you simply want to avoid the crowds of Thanksgiving Eve – have one or two at home.

I’ve got a few recommendations for Thanksgiving week that may come in handy during the long weekend, whenever you choose to imbibe.


First up is solid choice on all fronts – substantial, pairable, and just rich enough to feel special. Try Summit 120 Shilling Scotch Ale. The Shilling terminology dates back to the late 19th century Scotland and is a reference to the way beers were taxed. 120 is very high on the scale. Whereas lighter beers fall into the 40-60 Shilling range, a Wee Heavy is 90. So, as you can imagine, a 120 Shilling is very robust. While there is little to be said beyond my brilliant friend Dan’s post, I’ll say this – pair it with pumpkin pie or richer turkey portions, like dark meat or gizzards. The spice profile and medium body are a winning duo.

For an after-dinner libation or a nice sip as guests are arriving, play with the new Amaro by J. Carver, Cruella. Cruella reached liquor stores a few weeks ago, and I’ve been enjoying it mixed with rye whiskey and to round out a hot toddy. But this recipe from the people behind the spirit is remarkable:

Cruella’s Revenge 1 oz Cruella Amaro // 2 oz J. Carver Rye Whiskey // 1/2 oz Turbinado Simple Syrup (see next). Stir all ingredients over ice and strain over large ice cube into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a thin orange wheel.

The Turbinado Simple Syrup is 100% worth it. Mix equal parts water and turbinado (raw) sugar over heat until sugar is dissolved. For a 1 cup to 1 cup ratio, add 1/2 teaspoon each of dry turmeric and baking powder during cooking. The syrup keeps for up to two weeks.


What is Amaro, anyway? Well, there’s no clear definition, except that amari are broadly defined as Italian-inspired bittersweet liqueurs. You’ve likely heard of and tasted several, all comprised of alcohol, a bittering agent, and limitless flavor combinations. Favorites include Campari, Aperol, and a new go-to of mine, Braulio, which I first tasted in Boston this summer.

Cruella uses a rye whiskey base that is bittered with gentian root, a traditional ingredient. The aromatic blend also includes saffron, hyssop, rose hips, sweet and bitter orange, chamomile and galenga (a plant in the ginger family).


(bonus points for dark chocolate shavings)


Finally, for a real wallop after a too-big slice of pie, I’d recommend the Giantsbane from Fair State Brewing. This is a beer for long, cold nights spent reluctantly preparing for even longer and colder nights. Giantsbane is a double stout with influence from the traditional Foreign Export style. But it’s cues from more bitter American versions can’t be ignored. It’s not as sweet or thick as the typical imperial stout, yet somehow, it’s just as rich and robust.

If you’re not stuffed full of stuffing when you crack this one, try it with an offensively smelly cheese, like a rich blue or ash rind goat. It highlights the nuttiness of the cheese while cutting the richness.


That’s it for me this year! I’ll be kicking back with a combination of old standbys and new friends, depending on my mood and the company. Drop me a line to let me know what you’re enjoying, with or without turkey. Happy Thanksgiving!

#JCarver #Summit #cocktail #craftbeer #120shilling #Spirits #Cruella #thanksgivingdrinks #Giantsbane #amaro #beer #scottishale #TwinCities #doublestout #Fall #autumn #FairState

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