Six Not So Secret Cocktail Ingredients For a KNOCK OUT Thanksgiving Cocktail

November 21, 2012

When we think about Thanksgiving what often comes to mind in the drinks department is, unfortunately more of the same.  This year I promise to influence your drinking.  I'm going to give you six easily sourced ingredients that you can get, right now- to make your usual hum-drum cocktail something very intoxicating- and therefore memorable.  What makes a drink special on this holiday?  I'm looking for a drink that's refreshing. 

It does you no good if you're numb after the first one. 

You want to be able to enjoy at least two or three before falling over. 

I received a couple bottle of spirits from Portland, Maine the other day. One was a bottle of rum named Eight Bells- named after the Winslow Homer painting hanging at the Portland Museum of Art.   During the hurricane here in NJ, I had very poor communication with the wi-fi and the power/heat/water out at home.  Heating by wood was the protocol and upon making contact with Ned Wight, the very enthusiastic owner of New England Distilling, I tried to make some common ground. 

We spoke a bit of my background:  I lived in Portland, Maine during the mid-80's.  It was just after college at Emerson in Boston.  I  lived in Portland, Maine when trains ran down Commercial Street filled with fish set to go to make fertilizer.  Even in the winter you could smell them.  The sea birds were huge, feasting on the purifying fish.  This was the Maine with the Dog-Man, Three Dollar Dewys' on Fore Street and Alberta's on Pleasant Street.

I cooked at Alberta's and working for Jim Ledue made me the writer that I am today.  Sure he fired me from my position as a line cook.  I deserved it.  He gave me the task of cleaning out the walk in refrigerator and I came across a relic that may have dated back to the dawn of man.  It was some kind of pate'.  Covered in a greenish "breathing" bluish mold.  I threw it out before I caught something from it.  In comes Jim, rooting around in the trash to see what I threw out.  I think it was a set-up.  He fishes out the living blue/green colored, dripping wet, pate' thing.  Turns to me and says that he was going to make ravioli from it. 

It was, after all in my eyes and nose, alive with a festering mold that would get on my skin and never come off.

Jim fired me on the spot and then said- "Someday you will own your own business and... If you are throwing out an expensive item like this - pointing helpfully to the now leaking mess- it will, hopefully-l mean something to you." 

I believe that this lesson from my past has followed me for a reason. 

Thanksgiving is a time for reflection as much as for family and friends alike.  It is a time to come together and put aside old differences.

I met Ned Wight the night my lights went out for fifteen days during  Hurricane Sandy.  This was what sealed our friendship, Ned and myself.  I was heating 100% by wood on the Jotul wood burning stove and up pops Ned Wight, offering a copious amount of his medicinal rum.   Thank you Ned.  Your rum is fabulous.  I'm sipping some right now with two large ice cubes and some other... Surprises.

Here was his email to me just after the storm....>>Dang man that's roughing it!  Any word on when the power might be back?  Are you seeing FedEx trucks around?  If so, we could get some medicinal rum out to help warm you up.<<

We got power back just as the rum arrived.  Thank you Ned for sending it down to me.  I have a mind numbing drink that will take you out to Peak's Island on a beautiful summer's day in your brain. 

Six Not So Secret Cocktail Ingredients For my Cocktail Whisperer's Winslow Homer/Thanksgiving cocktail.

Great Rum- Rum pre-dates our country.  At one time rum was more valuable as currency than the pre-colonial currency.  A barrel of rum was worth a small fortune when men and the sea were connected by their strong drinks.  Thanksgiving dates back to this time when our rum fueled men and ships.  Rum is highly appropriate in this drink because it connects us with our historical past.

Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water - what is a cocktail without great sparkling water to give fizz and lift?  I love the lemon flavor and it complements this cocktail.

Great Ice made from inspired water- sure you can make perfect clear ice.  I use a Mavea Water Pitcher.  I prefer hand cut ice or ice made in a silicon 2x2 ice cube tray.  The key to the best ice is the best water.   You can also use coconut water if your water is overly chlorinated.

Great Bitters- Angostura Bitters were originally prescribed as a stomach curative.  You can buy this powerful flavor agent at your supermarket.

Ginger Syrup or Cane Sugar Syrup- Go to your local supermarket.  Buy a Ginger Root.  Chop it into chunks then add it to 1 cup of water and 1 cup of dark turbanado sugar.  Boil until you have a dark syrup.  Keep refrigerated and use in your cocktails or cups of Scotch Whisky.  I used JM Cane Sugar Syrup and freshly grated ginger

Grilled Tangerine Juice.  Essential for this cocktail.  Ever notice as the temperature goes down, the citrus gets better?  Tangerines are coming into season and I just love charring them or grilling the segments over natural charcoal.

So there you have it.  Six very simple to get ingredients to make the Winslow Homer Cocktail.  This rum is influenced by the spirit of Winslow Homer.

The Winslow Homer Cocktail


Eight Bells Rum from New England Distilling or amber rum of your choice- May I suggest a Martinique Rhum Agricole? 

Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water

Inspired water or filtered water ice

Angostura Bitters

Grilled Tangerine Juice

Ginger syrup or Cane sugar syrup from Martinique (or simple syrup)


Fill a Boston Shaker 3/4 with ice

Pour over the top 2 oz. rum

Add 4-5 dashes of Angostura Bitters

Add 4 oz. Grilled Tangerine juice

Add 1.5 oz Ginger Syrup or Cane sugar syrup

Close and shake for 30 seconds or until shaker is very frosty

Pour into a coupe' glass and top with the Perrier Sparkling Water

Garnish with a tangerine zest

Please don't drink these too quickly!  They're meant to take you to a happy place, not a bad place- so don't rush yourself.  Take your time!  Danger Level 4 out of 5!  Danger! Danger! 


Tasting notes: The Eight Bells Rum is a thing of rare beauty with bold Rhum Agricole notes and a long chewy finish.  I detect candied orange rind, Asian spices, white flowers and sweet cane sugar spun around a core of toasty vanilla tinged oak. 

This is magnificent rum that speaks clearly of its Maine roots and hand-crafted status.

Thank you again Ned for your kindness.  wb

Ned Wight
Owner - Distiller
New England Distilling, LLC
26 Evergreen Dr, Unit B
Portland, ME 04103
(207) 878-9759


Warren Bobrow is the Food and Drink Editor of the 501c3 non profit Wild Table on Wild River Review located in Princeton, New Jersey.

He is one of 12 journalists world-wide, and the only one from the USA to participate in the FĂȘte de la Gastronomie- the weekend of September 22nd., 2012 in Burgundy and in Paris. 

He attended Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans in 2011/2012.

Warren presented on the topic of freestyle mixology at the International Food Bloggers Conference in Portland, Oregon. (2012)

Warren judged the Iron Mixology competition at the Charleston Wine and Food Festival (2012)

Warren has published over three hundred articles on everything from cocktail mixology to restaurant reviews to travel articles.

You may also find him on the web at:

Warren is a published food writer and former cook.

He's written food and cocktail articles and news for Edible Jersey, Chutzpah Magazine, Voda Magazine, Tasting Table, Serious Eats and Total Food Service Magazine.

Warren attended the Kentucky Derby and the Oaks Day Races this year while on assignment for Voda Magazine.

He writes for the "Fabulous Beekman 1802 Boys" as their cocktail writer.  (The Soused Gnome)

He also writes for The Daily Basics, Leaf Magazine and Modenus

He writes for Williams-Sonoma on their Blender Blog. 

He is a Ministry of Rum judge.

He cooked at Alberta's in Portland, Maine during mid-80's. 

Warren is the former owner and co- founder of Olde Charleston Pasta in Charleston, SC while cooking at the Primerose House and Tavern. (Also in Charleston)

He spent Hurricane Hugo (1989) in his former home in Charleston and lost his business.

Warren was # 30 in Saveur Magazine's 100 for his writing about the humble Tuna Melt.  


Headshot photograph taken at the Ministry of Rum in San Francisco- August 2010