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Friendsgiving is more than a recipe for delicious food. It’s a celebration of people coming together. In honor of this special tradition, 2021 World Class US Bartender of the Year, Adam George Fournier shares three well-balanced cocktail recipes, all packed with plenty of festive flavors.

On a recent visit back to the East Coast of the United States from my adopted home in Los Angeles, I was reminded of something that I’ve been missing: Seasons. There is something about the warm weather of summer giving way to the brisk winds of fall that reminds me to be thankful for what I have. It also reminds me to be thankful for the people that I get to share it all with. It is this transition that brings us perfectly into American Thanksgiving or as I prefer to celebrate Friendsgiving.

Ultimately, the idea behind the Thanksgiving holiday to me is the idea of comradery and sharing. The idea of fighting off the oncoming winter chill with the warmth of friendship and family. The wonderful thing about this holiday is how personal it can be and that family isn’t just the people that you’re born with. The found family we create and build over the course of our lives is just as meaningful, just as powerful, and just as worth celebrating as the seasons change. Or even if, like in Los Angeles, they never change.

There is also the joy of being able to welcome someone new into the celebration every year. Friendsgiving is one of the few celebrations where newcomers are welcomed to the table every year and each person carries with them their own tradition to celebrate. It’s fascinating to me that this can be one of the most fluid yet consistent celebrations. The faces may change, the location may change, but every single person brings with them their signature dish. It creates a constantly evolving jigsaw puzzle of celebration and culinary delights.

With that in mind, this is my humble contribution to the Friendsgiving table this year.

Whenever I’m creating a drink I always start with the event, the people who are going to be attending, and how I want those people to interact with the drink. To me, Friendsgiving is about the melding of different worlds and people so I wanted to start with a split base to symbolize this melding of people. Because I am a long-time Whiskey lover I started with Bulleit Bourbon to give those warm baking spices and vanilla notes. Looking for a partner to harmoniously blend, I turned to Zacapa No. 23 Rum. The Solera System aging of Zacapa adds a richness with its notes of brown sugar, molasses, and honey to meld into that extra spiciness lent from the higher rye content of Bulleit.

With the base established it was time to look at how my friends were going to be interacting with this cocktail. This is about bringing people together and letting them share so a punch bowl was simply a no-brainer. To fill out that punch bowl I looked to the flavors that are personal to me and added a bit of my personality to the mix.

When I was growing up the flavors of Thanksgiving were baking spices and sparkling apple cider served to all of the children to celebrate. This is paired with the distinct memory of my mother always having a cup of tea in her hands. I crossed the two of these together to lengthen the base built by Bulleit and Zacapa. To balance the fruit of the Apple Cider and to accentuate the baking spice notes we’ve blended it with a good high-quality Chai tea.

Next up, it needs just a touch of sweetness to balance out the tannins and darker notes of the drink. Because of the warm flavors and feel, I wanted to add just a touch of honey but also wanted to bring a touch of fruitiness to the palette so I went into the kitchen to whip up my own apple honey. Finishing with a touch of lemon to brighten the finish and you have a punch bowl worth starting a new tradition with.

Split Rail Punch

PREPARATION

  1. Combine all ingredients over ice in a punch bowl with a few lemon wheels and apple slices.
  2. To serve, pour 5 oz over ice in a glass prepped with either a lemon wheel or an apple slice.

But speaking of new traditions, one of the wonderful things about the interconnectivity of the digital world is the ability to celebrate together even when physically distant. I know that I will be digitally party hopping this year yet I still want to be drinking mindfully and whipping up a whole punch bowl for myself would be excessive. With that in mind, the wonderful thing about this recipe is how easily you can scale it down to an individual serving.

Split Rail Collins

PREPARATION

  1. Combine all ingredients in a shaker tin.
  2. Add Ice and Shake.
  3. Fine strain over ice in a collins glass prepped with two lemon wheels
  4. Top With 2 oz Sparkling Apple Cider
  5. Garnish with an Apple Slice fan

Yet wait, there’s more! The other joy of Friendsgiving is that it is not tied to a specific region or even season. As the number of friends and family in your circle expands, moves, and floats in and out where you find yourself celebrating maybe a touch nippier than Southern California. This means you could be looking to warm your hands with more of a Toddy than a Punch. With just a few tweaks this recipe has you covered as well.

Split Rail Toddy

PREPARATION

  1. Combine all ingredients except Chai tea in a mixing glass.
  2. Stir briefly to fully incorporate.
  3. Pour into a warmed Irish coffee glass or mug Top with Chai Tea Garnish with a lemon wheel and apple slice fan.

No matter what style of celebration you are having this year there is an incredible number of ways to celebrate mindfully and responsibly. The important thing is to celebrate those little moments, those people, and places that bring you together. Whether that’s around a punch bowl or set against a Zoom background make sure to bring yourself wholeheartedly to the celebration and I guarantee your Friendsgiving will be a success.

**Apple Honey Syrup

PREPARATION

  1. In a medium pot whisk together honey and water until fully incorporated.
  2. Add the cubed apple chunks and slowly bring everything to a rolling boil.
  3. Simmer for 10 minutes and remove from heat.
  4. Let steep for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Fine strain, gently pressing on the apple chunks to express the syrup.
  6. Store in a clean glass container under refrigeration for up to three (3) weeks