“Gratus animus est una virtus non solum maxima, sed etiam mater virtutum omnium reliquarum.” (Cicero, from Oratio Pro Cnæo Plancio, XXXIII.)
My Latin’s a little rusty, so I checked with CK. He tells me that what Cicero is essentially saying is that “a thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the other virtues.”
With that in mind, here’s something to be thankful for, from Neal Dewing:*
The Old-Fashioned is my standby cocktail. When I don’t know what I want to drink, it usually turns out I want an Old-Fashioned. It’s sweet, flavorful, and has bourbon in it. Can it possibly be improved? No, but it can certainly be tailored to an occasion. Many recipes call for muddled cherry and orange (n.b., purists eschew both), but this Thanksgiving version departs from that for an interesting and refreshing tipple. Enjoy it while watching the game, or use a round to short-circuit an argument by way of an impromptu toast. You’ll need:
• 8 fresh cranberries
• 1 strip of orange zest
• 2 tsp sugar
• 2–3 dashes Angostura bitters
• 2 oz of your favorite bourbon
In an Old-Fashioned glass, add sugar, cranberries, and orange zest. Saturate with a few dashes of the bitters. Add a splash of flat water and muddle until the sugar is entirely dissolved. There may be some grit in the glass, but as with the example of your family my suggestion is to live with it. Add your bourbon. Fill your glass with ice.
I wouldn’t use too fine a bourbon for this, but if you determine that you need an extra bit of assistance coping with all the togetherness and love you might try a slug of Booker’s, a cask-strength 128-proof.
Those familiar with the common version of the drink will note the use of orange zest instead of a slice of fruit. This imparts subtle citrus flavor but does not add sweetness or liquid to the mix. Zesting can be a chore, but in this case it is well worth it.
The cranberries impart a vivid red color to the drink, quite unlike the standard. They also give the cocktail a surprisingly mild tartness, much less of a bite than I expected. Less sugar might give it a sharpness of tongue to complement the most disapproving of clan matriarchs.
Add ice, to your taste—a single large chunk is best, as the more diluted this drink becomes the less enjoyable it will be. I don’t usually let them sit long enough for this to be a factor.
Thanksgiving is the one day of the year when we take the time to remind ourselves of the many reasons we have to be grateful. If you’re anything like me, at some point during the dinner you’ll look around at all the people gathered there with you—even the difficult ones—and send up quiet thanks for the privilege we have to love, and be loved.
*I extracted this from a longer article published back in 2013. Neal’s political writing will likely alienate a sizable chunk of tyblography’s audience, so I’m sparing y’all some discomfort. If you’d like to read the entire thing, it’s here. Otherwise, just enjoy a mighty fine cocktail.