I have a groovy old ice bucket and a hammered silver platter inherited from my great aunt. I was thinking for a while of putting out whiskey and water and ice...which seemed unimaginative. But I do love the taste of whiskey--especially bourbon--around Thanksgiving food, and so I played on the internet for a while. My buddy Ed Odell was talking about a champagne cocktail called a Moonwalk, and when I Googled it, I realized it came from the Savoy Bar in London, employer of the esteemed Joe Gilmore, a man who created drinks to honor the visits and special occasions of folks like Harry Truman, The Queen Mum, and Winston Churchill.
What's good enough for Give 'Em Hell Harry is good enough for me, so I mixed up a Missouri Mule. Here's the recipe, via Wikipedia:
2 parts bourbon
2 parts applejack
2 parts fresh lemon juice
1 part Campari
1 part Cointreau
Shake hard & serve up, in a chilled cocktail glass. I garnish with a long, thin strip of lemon zest, curled.
It's a slightly complicated drink--five ingredients--but you can make up a bunch in advance of guests arriving, to shake as needed. It's not sweet. It's almost grapefruit-y, because of the Campari/lemon juice combo. And the mellowness of the bourbon/applejack base plays nicely off that. Best of all, people don't down Mules like Cosmos and end up falling over. This is an interesting-tasting cocktail that will be sagely sipped.
My suggestion would be to also have some of the dinner wine open and breathing to offer folks who might be a bit challenged by a tart drink. AND you could also do Campari and soda for folks who like that, or make a couple of Jack Roses from any surplus applejack.
My radio show today? I've got the new Rickie Lee Jones. And I'm suddenly (the better part of a decade behind the rest of the hip world) impressed with Sufjan Stevens. See you on the internets! Tune in!