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THANKSGIVING: FOOD, DRINK AND FRIENDS

Thanksgiving is one of America’s most iconic holidays and with so much food and drink to look forward to we caught up with former Dead Rabbit bartender (proud American and Thanksgiving fan!) Pamela Wiznitzer for her holiday advice, recipe ideas and why it is a great time of year to be working within the industry.

When the air becomes crisper, the leaves start to radiate with the bright hues of red and orange, and the sun starts to set at an earlier hour, Americans know that Fall, and more importantly, the holiday season is rapidly approaching.

End of year celebrations lend themselves to meaningful moments and time spent with family and friends and to allowing the main attraction of the holidays – namely food and drinks - to shine.

Once Halloween candy is sold out from its half-price status at stores, the shelves are adorned with breadcrumbs for the perfect turkey stuffing, fresh cranberries for an epic sauce, and cans of pumpkin puree (because, let’s be real for a moment, few Americans really make pumpkin pie from scratch!).

Thanksgiving is not only one of the most iconic holidays celebrated in America, but the most nationally shared among all citizens of the United States. No matter your ethnic, religious or cultural background, Americans all spend that fourth Thursday of November eating and drinking with their most loved people.

Why do we celebrate Thanksgiving? The tradition goes back to the Pilgrim’s feast in Plymouth back in 1621 and later to November 26th 1789 when President George Washington proclaimed it as a day of thanksgiving and prayer. Today, it is a food fuelled eating extravaganza filled with family traditions.

Classic dishes include turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, green beans with fried onions, cranberry sauce, cornbread and pumpkin pie. However, the area of drinks and cocktails for Thanksgiving has never been flushed out over the years and is open to modern interpretation. For many of us who are bartenders, it’s a special time of year when we are able to showcase our skill set to our families and whip up some unique concoctions.

The job of a bartender is demanding and, unlike other industries, our bars and restaurants do not close their doors on holidays. There are no ‘days off’ and we often miss these integral moments to share with our loved ones. However, in America (and I believe this sentiment is true all over the world), we are grateful every day to be a part of an industry where people truly care about one another. It has become more of a community over the years and bartenders often use the term “bar family” to describe the friends they make not only in their cities but in cities far away.

We are blessed to meet such extraordinary people who share similar passions and have morphed into our brothers and sisters. We are unified by a love of a skill set and industry that gives us the ability to flex our creativity and knowledge on a daily basis.

This holiday season, we hope that our friends around the world will raise a glass on the 26th of November and give thanks to someone or something that has inspired them this year. While this may be an American tradition, it is a holiday that can be appreciated by all.

To get you in the holiday mood try these fantastic punch recipes, perfect group serves for sharing with friends.

Gratitude Punch

25ml TANQUERAY™ No. 10

25ml Sparkling wine

90ml Port

15ml Lemon

10ml Cranberry syrup (2 parts cranberry to 1 part sugar)

165ml Tea

Lemon slices

Cranberries

Star anise

Method: Pour all the ingredients into a pitcher, fill with ice and stir lightly. Garnish with lemon slices, cranberries and star anise. Serve in single glasses.

(1.8 standard drinks* - 1.7 units per serve)

Evening Waltz:

15ml JOHNNIE WALKER™ RED LABLEL™

15ml JOHNNIE WALKER™ DOUBLE BLACK™

10ml ZACAPA™ Rum

5ml PX sherry

7.5ml Demerara syrup

3 Dashes of aromatic bitters

3 Dashes of chocolate bitters

Orange

Method: Stir all the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice until chilled. Strain straight up into a coupe and garnish with orange oils. Serve in single glasses.

(1.4 standard drinks* - 0.8 units per serve)

Pamela Wiznitzer has worked throughout some of the top venues in New York including the Dead Rabbit and most recently as the Creative Director at Seamstress Manhattan. Pamela was nominated as one of the top 10 bartenders for the 2014 "American Bartender of the Year" award at Tales of the Cocktail and was named the "2014 Bartender of the Year" by the Village Voice. Pamela is an active member and serves as the President of the New York chapter of the United States Bartenders' Guild. Stay up to date with Pamela and follow her @LiquidEncourage or on Instagram.

(*One standard drink contains 8g of alcohol)

The TANQUERAY, JOHNNIE WALKER and ZACAPA words and associated logos are trademarks (C) Diageo 2015.