To fortify the host and guest, nothing works better than a pitcher of communal cocktails for a group that needs to solidify its solidarity – at least for the day. Call this the “new relative(s) togetherness” blend. This Autumn herb & spice recipe combines the sweetness of cider and the sourness of the late season blackberries in the ephemeral balance of an ethereal alcohol mix.
The secret of these cocktails is that they help the suspension of disbelief at the big fish/big game/big deal/big sale conversations going on in the middle of the room. So much so that you’ll find yourself part of the storytellers when you offer a refill from the second pitcher. Careful, though; on the second round, the really tall tale telling begins!
Thanksgiving Day Meet the Relatives Cocktail Pitcher
Ingredients – Enough for 2 pitchers
2 Sprigs of fresh sage (about 5 leaves each)
2-1/2 pints of fresh blackberries (send 10 berries to the freezer)
Pinch of cinnamon spice
4 cups vodka
4 cups dark rum
4 cups hard apple cider
2nd pinch of cinnamon spice
2 cups sparkling seltzer
Here are the steps.
In a small bowl, muddle a sprig of sage and ¼ cup of the blackberries by pressing the back of a spoon against the two to bruise and spring their flavors from their natural packages. Throw in your first pinch of cinnamon.
Transfer this batch to a fine mesh strainer held over a half-gallon pitcher. Slowly pour 2 cups of plain vodka (your best brand here), 2 cups of dark rum (I like Captain Morgan’s) over the sage and blackberries. Pour over the batch another 2 cups of hard apple cider (locally made is best to get the relatives introduced to your patch of terra firma – another conversation starter). Stir in your second pinch of cinnamon.
Top with about 1 cup of seltzer and serve in chilled highball glasses. Float one or two frozen berries in each glass. Find who your new relatives really are!