Thanksgiving Eve Dark and Stormy

I'm a firm believer that a special occasion deserves a special cocktail. I've designed this one specifically for Thanksgiving, in order to celebrate all the classic Thanksgiving flavors in an unexpected way.

Broadly speaking, I classify this cocktail as a Dark and Stormy. The Dark and Stormy is traditionally made with dark rum and ginger beer, often with some lime juice. My Thanksgiving spin has dark rum and ginger beer as usual, plus spiced rum for holiday flair, and cranberry juice instead of lime juice for tartness. It's the perfect Thanksgiving package.

You'll see that this drink is layered. While this isn't absolutely necessary, it's really fun and makes for such a special holiday vibe. Yes, your guests are worth it!! Here's how to build it up:

First, rim a tall glass with cinnamon sugar. While I don't usually like sugary rims, it feels so appropriate for Thanksgiving. Add ice, a couple sprigs of thyme, and a little handful of pomegranate arils. Such holiday flair!

Next, pour in ginger beer. You'll want this to occupy about half your glass (unless you'd rather use an absurd amount of rum, in which case go for it!). You'll notice that the pomegranate arils will begin to do a fun little dance as the bubbles carry them up and down.

Side note: in my opinion, it's the ginger beer that makes this work for fall. One of the things I love most about the Dark and Stormy is that it takes rum to a deeper, darker place. Rum is so often in tiki cocktails, which of course are delightful, but not so appropriate for pairing with fall and winter foods. But the Dark and Stormy brings in ginger, which makes so much sense with autumnal cuisine. Plus it's fizzy, beautiful, and so holiday-appropriate!

Next, mix up some amber-colored spiced rum with a dash of cranberry juice. I experimented a lot with this, and found that I like just the tiniest amount of cranberry. Otherwise, it's too assertively tart and too bright red. Add the rum and cranberry very gently so as not to disturb the ginger beer.

There are some good tutorials online for how to do this, but the most important thing is to go slowly! Some people like to pour over the back side of a spoon. Being a research scientist myself, I actually use a (clean) transfer pipette, but that's totally nerdy and not necessary. I like to dribble subsequent layers really slowly down the side of the glass.

Finally, add the dark rum float. This is a classic finishing touch on many tiki cocktails, including the Mai Tai. It provides a lovely deep color and a big pop of booziness right from the get-go.

Building different layers relies on a few different chemical properties, so you can't do this with just anything. I find that the higher sugar content of the ginger beer, as well as the upward loft from the carbonation, maintains a very coherent bottom layer. The middle layer is lower density due to its high alcohol content, but the sugar from the cranberry weighs it down slightly. The dark rum float on top is the lowest density since it's undiluted.

Thanksgiving is special. Whip up a few of these for your guests to really embrace the holiday vibe and get the party going!

Please share your creation so I can see how you've interpreted the concept! Tag "The Rogue Brussel Sprout" on Facebook or hashtag #theroguebrusselsprout on Instagram.

Looking for another fall-appropriate cocktail? We've been loving this Thyme Julep, which is beautiful and would be lovely for Thanksgiving.

Thoughts About Ingredients
(These are just suggestions, since rogue is more fun than recipe)
  • Granulated sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • Big ice cubes
  • Pomegranate arils 
  • Fresh thyme
  • Ginger beer (a few oz per drink). I've actually been using an alcoholic ginger beer for these. I've recently fallen in love with a Vermont product called Volcano Juice from Halyard Brewing. It's about 4% alcohol, so a nice mixer, and is super gingery. I haven't tested this with non-alcoholic options, but I can't see why they wouldn't work; if anything, they'd probably be denser and hence easier to work with.
  • Amber-colored spiced rum (~1.5-2 oz per drink). I'm severely biased toward Koloa's spiced rum (from Kaua'i); it's my absolute favorite and has such a wonderful holiday flavor. Any spiced rum would work though, or any golden rum in general. Just make sure it's relatively light in color.
  • Dash of cranberry juice
  • Dark spiced rum (~1 oz per drink). Again, I'm on Team Koloa here. Their dark spiced rum has such a lovely vanilla flavor. I also enjoy Kraken, which is easier to find on the mainland.
Thoughts About Method
(These are just suggestions, be creative and make it yours)
  1. Mix up a few spoonfuls of granulated sugar with a very generous sprinkle of cinnamon. Moisten the rim of your glass slightly and dip it into the cinnamon sugar.
  2. Add a few big ice cubes to the glass. This must be done first so as not to disturb your layers!
  3. Add a small handful of pomegranate arils and a sprig or two of thyme. Again, this all has to happen before adding your liquids.
  4. Pour ginger beer into the bottom of the glass, occupying about half of the space, although it will depend on the size and style of your glass.
  5. In a separate vessel (I recommend one with a pouring spout), combine a couple oz of amber-colored rum with a dash of cranberry juice and mix well. Add the cranberry incrementally until you achieve a color you like.
  6. Very gently, float the cranberry-rum mixture over the ginger beer (see recommendations above and in various places online for ideas about how to do this).
  7. Finally, and again very gently, float about an oz of dark rum over the top of the cranberry layer.
  8. Savor your creation, and watch in delight as the pomegranate arils dance around and the various layers evolve over time.


Please follow The Rogue Brussel Sprout on Instagram!