(Note: this post was originally published on November 21, 2019. The date above reflects migration to the new platform, at which point the photos were also updated.)
The Perfect Thanksgiving Sip
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. A signature cocktail really makes everything feel so much more festive!
Broadly speaking, this cocktail is a riff on a Dark & Stormy. The Dark & Stormy is traditionally made with dark rum, ginger beer, and lime. My Thanksgiving spin has dark rum and ginger beer as usual, plus spiced rum for winter coziness, and pomegranate juice instead of lime for tartness and some festive holiday flair. It's the perfect Thanksgiving package. Double garnishes (pomegranate arils and fresh thyme!) make it feel extra special.
Three Festive Layers!
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! (And I promise it's not as tricky as it sounds).
Building different layers relies on the density differences between ingredients. 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 pomegranate juice weighs it down slightly. The dark rum float on top is the lowest density since it's undiluted, high-proof alcohol. Here's how to do it:
First, get your glass ready. To a tall, narrow glass, add ice, a couple sprigs of fresh thyme, and a little handful of pomegranate arils. Such holiday flair! Note that it's important to add the ice first so as not to disturb the layers you'll create. Keep this in mind for all your layered cocktails, not just this one!
Next, pour in ginger beer; I like one that's very ginger-forward and not too sweet. You'll want this to occupy about half your glass. 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 cocktail work for fall. One of the things I love most about the Dark & Stormy (or variations thereof) is that it takes rum to a deeper, darker place. Rum is so often in tiki cocktails, which of course are delightful, but not as intuitive for pairing with fall and winter foods. But this cocktail 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 (readers of this blog will know that I'm a huge fan of Koloa Rum from Kaua'i!) with a dash of pomegranate juice. I experimented a lot with this, and found that I like just the tiniest amount of juice. Otherwise, it's too assertively tart and too bright red. Add the rum and pomegranate mixture very gently so as not to disturb the ginger beer.
There are some good tutorials online for how to layer cocktails, but the most important thing is to go slowly! Some people like to pour over the back side of a spoon. Some people prefer to tilt the glass and pour gently down the side (I'm a fan of this latter option). The best way to learn is to experiment... ideally before you have a bunch of people waiting for their drinks on Thanksgiving!
Finally, add a dark rum float (again, I've used my favorite, Koloa Rum). 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.
Finally, add your garnishes! I like a couple additional sprigs of thyme and some additional pomegranate, but anything Thanksgiving-appropriate would work here. Orange slices? A few cranberries on a cocktail pick? During the holidays more is more, so don't hesitate to make these fun and festive.
Let's Talk Ingredients
Here's what you'll need for this recipe, as well as some thoughts, tips, and possible substitutions. If you make any substitutions, I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.
Pomegranate arils. There are some good tutorials online for how to open and clean a pomegranate without making a huge mess. I prefer to do all my work in a big bowl of water. In any case, please save yourself some headache and do this a couple days beforehand, the arils are fine in the fridge in a sealed container... and you definitely don't want to be making a big juicy mess all over the kitchen during the Thanksgiving day chaos!
Spiced rum. Make sure you choose something amber-colored rather than dark, otherwise this won't work well. You guys know I adore Koloa!
Pomegranate juice. You can buy this in small bottles at most grocery stores. I've also done this drink successfully using cranberry juice! If you use cranberry, just add a tiny dash since it's so assertively tart.
Dark rum. Again, Koloa all the way! Their dark rum has the most beautiful vanilla flavor. I'm a very firm believer that a dark rum float improves pretty much any drink.
One final thought. If you're having a few people over, set up an assembly line; it will make this process go much faster. Add ice to all the glasses, then add ginger beer to all, then spiced rum, then dark rum. You can easily make a bunch of drinks quite quickly this way.
Thanksgiving is special. Whip up a few of these for your guests to really embrace the holiday vibe and get the party going!
It makes me so happy to hear from you and see your creations! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this recipe. If you post a photo on Instagram, hashtag #TheRogueBrusselSprout and tag me (@TheRogueBrusselSprout) in the post text so that I'm sure to see it.
Disclosure: Koloa Rum is a long-term partner and I receive free product. However, all opinions and thoughts are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep The Rogue Brussel Sprout running.
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Bursting with cozy fall vibes and iconic autumnal flavors, this Dark & Stormy riff is the perfect cocktail for Thanksgiving. It unites two types of rum, warming spices, zippy ginger beer, sweet pomegranate, and fragrant thyme for a celebration-worthy sip.