A Thankful Cocktail

Our family has been nothing short of crazed these last few weeks (maybe months!). Mom has been traveling and on book tour, Maggy has been working like a dog, Dad has been holding down the fort at home and gearing up for a minister’s busiest season: Advent and Christmas! With finals hot on my heels and a wedding in less than a month, I feel like we’ve all been riding separate cars on the big, sparkly Tilt-O-Whirl of life. We’re all whipping around, getting squeezed to the outer edges of our seats by the centrifugal force, and whizzing past each other with only a moment to wave or smile as we zoom to the next place. Sound familiar?

Anderson Thanksgivings usually involve tons of friends and family, old and new. It’s always buzzing, hectic, and wonderful! But this year it’s just going to be the six of us–Mom and Dad, Maggy and Andy, Anthony and me. I didn’t realize how much I’ve been looking forward to this time together, to these few moments when we can hop off that carnival ride, sit down around a fire, relax, catch up, laugh til our bellies hurt, and of course…eat and drink! I am literally counting down the hours. (Just 30 more to go!)

I’ve realized that–while I am certainly looking forward to Thursday–I am most looking forward to Wednesday night when we all arrive from our separate corners of the universe. I love those homecoming hours, when we all see each other for the first time in weeks, when we’re all bursting with stories, hugs, and news…and when we haven’t had time to fight about anything yet!

Anthony and I are arriving at the house first to shop, start prepping for Thursday’s big meal, and cook a simple dinner. We’ll start a fire, chill some wine, and put out nuts and cheeses, so that when Mom and Maggy arrive from the airport (after days of hotels and restaurant food) there will be something delicious and home-cooked waiting. Dad has to do the Thanksgiving service at church and Andy has to work late, so they’ll come down much later. We’ll all wait anxiously for them to arrive, fuss over them when they do, microwave their plates, and sit with them while they eat. When we all finally settle in, the one thing we’ll all enjoy together is this cocktail. It’s a little something Anthony and I came up with to celebrate what we’re most thankful for this year–a chance to slow down and be together.

A Thankful Cocktail
This delicious drink is like gingery cranberry-apple cider...for adults. If you don't have a muddler, use the handle of a wooden spoon.
Serves: Makes 1 cocktail
  • 2 slices fresh ginger, peeled
  • 15 fresh cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon simple syrup
  • 1 large dash Angostura bitters
  • 2 ounces Applejack
  • 2 ounces apple cider
  • ¼ ounce lemon juice
  1. In a cocktail shaker, muddle the ginger, cranberries, simple syrup, and bitters. Add the Applejack, apple cider, lemon juice, and 4-5 ice cubes. Shake hard but briefly. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a martini glass (or into a rocks glass with ice). Garnish with a few cranberries.


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  1. sandy oldfield says

    thanks for this lovely reminder of what’s really important! we’re NOT hosting thanksgiving for the first time in many years, but sharing it with friends and cousins. but i’ve already started making crostini and fig-calamata tapenade and spiced pecans for the hors d’oeuvres we’re responsible for and the house smells wonderful. i can’t wait to try them with this cocktail!!

  2. Pam says

    Hey Sharon. What a beautiful post for Maggy and me to read this morning all the way out here in Seattle. We can’t wait to see you and Tony and be reunited with everyone tomorrow night. We’re hoping for smooth travels on what is always the busiest air traffic day of the year. Love you, dear.

  3. says

    That is TOO funny! I was just about to post a similar cocktail on my blog! I use ginger beer instead of the bitters and fresh bitters.

    Hope the Andersons have a lovely Thanksgiving, I’m thinking of you all today!

  4. Sharon says

    Hey Dana,

    No cranberries. OK, let’s see what we could substitute. I am trying to think what’s in season these days (which is not much) and how that might work in the cocktail. Pomegranate seeds might work, they have the same gorgeous color and a similar tartness to cranberries. If you don’t care about seasonality, you could try blackberries, though I am not sure how well they’d go with the autumnal flavors of this cocktail. (And in that case you wouldn’t need 15 berries!)

    No matter what you substitute, you might want to play with the amount of simple syrup in the drink. A tablespoon is on the high-side for a cocktail, but this one needs it because the cranberries are quite tart and it brings the flavors together nicely. If you use a different berry or pomegranate, you might want to start with less and ease your way up to the 1 Tbs of syrup if necessary.

    Good luck and let us know what you try!

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