Thanksgiving is over, but I wanted to get this one out before the end of the year. It is inspired by the sandwich you make the day after Thanksgiving. You remember that, right? It was like a week ago.
I’ve been attempting a lot of sweet and savory drinks this year. I like the challenge. It took a while, but I finally had one succeed. As always, some notes on ingredients and method. The ingredients in this drink proceeded straightforwardly from the concept. I looked into my mental toolkit and found the ingredients suited the theme.
Wild Turkey Rye. Rye whiskey here fills in for the bread in the sandwich. Nothing else will do, although a splash of aquavit might not have been a miss. It pretty obviously has to be Wild Turkey, for the name.
Cranberry juice. Cranberry juice varies wildly in its sweetness. Freshly juiced cranberries are earthy, sweet, tart, and bitter. On their own they can sometimes make a fine replacement for lemon juice in a cocktail, but it is necessary to taste them and calibrate your level of simple syrup appropriately. In one iteration of this drink, I made the mistake of mixing blindly, and I over-sweetened the drink to catastrophic effect.
Mushroom reduction. Mushroom in cocktails has been a white whale of mine for some time. I cannot resist the lure of the idea: umami, earthy, funky. To make this mushroom reduction, I soaked about 50g (total) of dried porcini, morel, and chanterelle mushrooms in about a liter of water. Once the mushrooms were reconstituted, I reduced the liquid down to about 20%. Raw mushroom broth tastes like the pantry, you must heat it.
Savory Herbs Air. Perhaps I repeat myself, sometimes, and with this one I feel a bit repetitive. First, I make a syrup from rosemary, sage, and thyme. To make the syrup, I first blanch the herbs, then blend them in a high speed blender with equal parts of sugar and water, then strain through a fine mesh strainer. The resulting syrup is a lovely forest green. To 200 ml of syrup I add several teaspoons of sucrose esters and beat with a whisk in a wide mouth bowl until a light, “soapy” foam forms.
Crispy Turkey Skin. For the turkey skin, I salted the skin from a turkey leg and placed it between two oven trays lined with silpats, weighed it down with some iron plates, and baked it at a low heat for an hour. When it came out of the oven, I trimmed it into a square. Eating the skin with the drink really recalls the flavors and aromas of the Thanksgiving meal.
The Day After Thanksgiving Sandwich
1.5 oz Wild Turkey Rye
.75 oz fresh cranberry
.25 mushroom stock
Top with Savory Herbs Air
The dried mushroom on the skin was mostly for the photo. It looks dramatic but to be honest it does not smell great, and it is, of course, inedible. My favorite garnishes are those which transform the flavor of the drink they accompany, as with the olive in a martini. The turkey skin accomplishes that nicely. Maybe I should have done a dollop of mashed potatoes? Next year we’ll see if I can make an appetizing cocktail with turkey gravy.