A few notes for your Thanksgiving: a holiday examination, Mumm champagne, an old-fashioned cocktail from Garden & Gun, the French 75 (its history and variants), Puritan poetry (no Puritans = no Thanksgiving), Truman Capote and Loudon Wainwright III.
First, while still sober, take this test from Liquor.com:
Although I usually repair to gin drinks, this recipe for an old-fashioned from Garden & Gun is the real thing:
If, like me, you do not care for Bloody Marys, a French 75 — essentially, a cocktail made with gin (or sometimes cognac), simple syrup, fresh lemon juice and champagne — is a sharp eye-opener before the Thanksgiving meal. The Letters and Liquor blog has a detailed, historical article on the French 75:
The novelist Alec Waugh dubbed it “the most powerful cocktail in the world” and he was only half referring to its potent combination of liquor and champagne. With a refined visage that belies the origins of its name, the French 75 speaks to our post-war mentality.
Read the entire post here.
From bartender-expert Gaz Regan’s site, a twist on the French 75:
Thanksgiving brings to mind the unfairly-maligned Puritans. A favorite Puritan is poet Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672) and her “The Author to Her Book”:
Thou ill-form’d offspring of my feeble brain,Who after birth didst by my side remain,Till snatched from thence by friends, less wise than true,Who thee abroad, expos’d to publick view,Made thee in raggs, halting to th’ press to trudge,Where errors were not lessened (all may judg).At thy return my blushing was not small,My rambling brat (in print) should mother call,I cast thee by as one unfit for light,Thy Visage was so irksome in my sight;Yet being mine own, at length affection wouldThy blemishes amend, if so I could:I wash’d thy face, but more defects I saw,And rubbing off a spot, still made a flaw.I stretched thy joynts to make thee even feet,Yet still thou run’st more hobling then is meet;In better dress to trim thee was my mind,But nought save home-spun Cloth, i’ th’ house I find.In this array ’mongst Vulgars mayst thou roam.In Criticks hands, beware thou dost not come;And take thy way where yet thou art not known,If for thy Father askt, say, thou hadst none:And for thy Mother, she alas is poor,Which caus’d her thus to send thee out of door.
Here is the full link.
For reasons I cannot quite place, Truman Capote’s work has never been at the top of my list, though I should probably revisit it. Although I prefer A Christmas Memory, his sequel long story The Thanksgiving Visitor is holiday appropriate. From the Amazon summary:
Buddy and his closest friend, his eccentric, elderly cousin, Miss Sook – the memorable characters from Capote’s A Christmas Memory–love preparing their old country house for Thanksgiving. But there’s trouble in the air. Odd Henderson, a scrawny, freckled, red-headed bully makes Buddy the target of his relentless torment. But Miss Sook only counsels patience and understanding, “He can’t help acting ugly; he doesn’t know any different,” she says. Filled with emotions that are universal to both young readers and adults, this poignant story brings to life what we all should cherish and be thankful for–the gifts of friendship and love.
Finally, from Loudon Wainwright III, “Thanksgiving”: