I don’t know much about Thanksgiving Day cooking, but I do know this: You gotta keep the cook happy, or at least not irate that you are eyeballing the Detroit Lions football game while she slaves away.
This knowledge is why, on this weirdest of Thanskgivings, I know what I’m going to be doing as Sarah smokes a 10-pound turkey, makes a half-dozen sides, and bakes two – yes, two – different kinds of pie for our table of two.
I will hand her ingredients when she wants them, and transport the turkey to and fro the smoker. I will drag my slightly wider ass off the couch after dinner to do some dishes.
Mostly, though, my job is to keep a cocktail in the cook’s hand. And on this, our very first Pandemic Thanksgiving For Two, I guarantee at least one of those drinks will be a Mr. November.
Trust me, Turkey Day Second Fiddles. Be a sport, and surprise the cook in your life with this drink.
I cannot take credit for the origin of the Mr. November, and quite honestly I don’t know where it originated from, exactly. My brother begged the drink recipe years ago from a bartender at some unknown bar in Indianapolis. He wrote it on the back of a receipt, took a photo, and half-drunkenly texted the photo to me.
It was a booze-soaked holiday miracle. This cocktail is autumnal. It is fun. It is a bit sweet. It is a bit decadent. It is basically Thanksgiving poured into a glass, and it won’t make you tired like turkey, at least not until your third one.
Now, the Mr. November takes a bit of pre-planning, so start early (start now!) by buying the following things: A bag of loose chai tea, from a good joint like the Tea Smith if you can, or a box of chai teabags from any old grocery store if you can’t. A bottle of rye whiskey, nothing special, maybe Dickel or Rittenhouse. A jug of apple cider, with no sugar or anything added to it. One cinnamon stick. Lemons or lemon juice. And, finally, fresh nutmeg.
When you arrive home, empty the bottle of whiskey into a large container, like a measuring cup. Place one tablespoon of chai tea in with the whiskey. (If you have chai teabags, you can either cut them open and measure, or use 3 or so of the bags.) Wait between 3-6 hours, strain the chai tea out, and pour the whiskey back into the bottle.
Your Mr. November base is ready. Next, make a cinnamon simple syrup with one cup sugar, one cup water and that cinnamon stick. When the simple syrup is cooled, it’s time to cocktail.
To make one drink:
1 ½ oz of your Chai Rye
1 oz of the apple cider
¾ oz cinnamon simple syrup
½ oz lemon juice
Shake that puppy and pour it into a rocks glass with a large ice cube. Grate a little nutmeg over the top.
Hand it to the cook. Say, “Happy Thanksgiving, and you are the best.” And then raise a glass of Mr. November to making it through 2020, and toward our better future.