Teakwood Tavern Hospitality, offering virtual wine & cocktail classes, specialty cocktail creation, menu consultation and personal wine shopping services, focuses on providing wine and spirit education in the form of blog posts and YouTube videos.

Wine articles and videos showcase different wine regions or grapes from around the world that don’t receive the attention they deserve. Stated alternatively, they don’t discuss Napa, Sonoma, Burgundy, or any of the other incredibly famous wine regions because enough has been said about those places. The focus is on helping the consumer find great wines at great value prices. Selecting wines to pair with your Thanksgiving meal shouldn’t add to any holiday stress. Dry sparkling wines pair well with a wide variety of foods so it should be no surprise that these wines can hold their own at a Thanksgiving table. The acidity cuts through rich, fatty foods and balances tart items like homemade cranberry sauce. The effervescence also helps to cleanse your palate as you jump between bites of different items. If you’re a fan of bigger, red wine, a California Zinfandel will serve you well. It’s robust fruit and baking spice notes are a perfect match for a Thanksgiving feast (for more Thanksgiving wine pairings, see below).

When it comes to spirits, Shen and John Reyna, founders of Teakwood Tavern, usually focus on a particular spirit and explain the history and flavor profile. Then, they make two cocktails with the particular spirit. Just like with wine, they have written articles and YouTube videos for each spirit that they discuss.

“Cocktails with a Cause”, Teakwood Tavern’s events with the National Liberty Museum, each have a theme based around “liberty.” Past themes included the Suffrage Movement, Civil Rights Movement, and Labor Day. Most recently, Teakwood Tavern created two specialty cocktails based on President Lincoln’s Proclamation of Thanksgiving. However, each presentation is more than just us making drinks. Background is provided on why the drink fits the theme, as well as an in-depth look into chosen ingredients and cocktail creation technique.

The “Turkey Trot” and the “Apple Pie Punch” are two specialty cocktails, created by Teakwood Tavern, perfect for your Thanksgiving celebrations this week. With ingredients like brown butter bourbon and sage honey syrup, fall flavors come to life and your carefully curated menu will sing while you toast to family, friends, health and the gift of a perfectly paired cocktail (recipes below).

If you are making spirits bright with non-boozy beverages, Teakwood Tavern also has you covered with their spirit-free specialty beverages, like Shanina’s Kiwi Cooler with kiwifruit and fresh coconut flakes (we think this sounds like the perfect way to kick off the celebratory long weekend ahead).

Shanina’s Kiwi Cooler

2 ounce kiwi, coconut, and basil shrub (recipe below)
4 ounces Topo Chico carbonated mineral water
Garnish: toasted coconut (recipe below) and basil sprig
Combine shrub and Topo Chico in a Collins glass. Fill with ice. Garnish with toasted coconut and basil sprig.

Recipe for kiwi, coconut, and basil shrub (makes about 625 ml):

355 grams apple cider vinegar (we recommend raw, unfiltered vinegar with mother culture)
13 grams basil
25 grams unsweetened coconut flakes
710 grams kiwifruit
267 grams sugar

In small batches, smack the basil between your hands. This releases the aromatics without overly bruising them. Then, place basil leaves into a nonreactive container (we use mason jars). Place the coconut in the same nonreactive container. Cover basil and coconut with vinegar, and store the mixture covered in the refrigerator for 2 days. Take the rest of the day off.
The next day, wash and quarter the kiwifruit. Don’t bother removing the skins. Place kiwifruit and sugar into a large bowl. Crush the fruit and stir to combine.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator. Allow to macerate for a day.
Once the basil-coconut mixture has sat for two days and the kiwi mixture has sat for one day, you are ready to proceed. Position a fine-mesh strainer over a medium bowl and pour kiwi mixture through to remove the solids. This is your kiwi syrup.
Strain basil-coconut mixture over the same mesh strainer (i.e., the strainer with the kiwi remains) into the same bowl as the kiwi syrup. Whisk well to incorporate any sugar that didn’t dissolve. TIP: There may be some sugar clinging to the fruit solids in the strainer. For that reason, we recommend setting the strainer with the solids over another bowl. Then pour the syrup-and-vinegar mixture over the solids to wash the sugar into the bowl. Repeat as needed.
Pour the syrup-and-vinegar mixture into a clean jar/bottle. Shake well to incorporate, and place in refrigerator for at least 5 days before using. You could use this earlier, but it tastes even better when it has rested for a few days.

Recipe for toasted coconut garnish:
Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees
For each drink, place a pinch of unsweetened coconut flakes on a sheet-pan
Toast for 6-8 minutes. Be careful, once coconut starts to change color it quickly burns.

Why labor in the kitchen all-day long when you can bring your favorite Thanksgiving flavors to the table in this cocktail? The Turkey Trot is a play on the modern classic cocktail—Gold Rush, which itself is a play on the classic whiskey sour. The whiskey sour template is incredibly simple, which is why everyone should know it: 2 ounces bourbon (or rye), 3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice, and 3/4 ounce simple syrup. We prefer our whiskey sour with an egg white to add a silky texture, but versions without egg white are acceptable. In 2001, at New York City’s Milk & Honey, T.J. Siegel used honey syrup in lieu of simple syrup and the Gold Rush was born. We’re taking the Gold Rush a few steps further and using brown butter bourbon and sage honey syrup to create the Turkey Trot. This year, you might not be able to blame tryptophan for falling asleep on the couch. Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving!

Turkey Trot
2 ounces brown butter bourbon (recipe below)
3/4 ounce sage honey syrup (recipe below)
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
3 dashes Fee Brothers black walnut bitters
1 egg white (optional)
1 sage leaf for garnish
Combine all ingredients, except for the egg white, into a shaker—then add the egg white.
Perform a dry shake: close the shaker without ice and shake vigorously for 10 seconds.[Hold the shaker tightly, there will be a lot of pressure inside.] After the dry shake, open the shaker,
add ice, and give 12 shakes. Strain the drink through a fine mesh-strainer into a chilled coupe glass. [
If you choose not to use the egg white, then combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice,
give 12 shakes, and strain into a chilled coupe.] Garnish: smack the fresh sage leaf between
your hands to release the aromatic oils and place on top of cocktail.

For the brown butter bourbon
8 tablespoons of unsalted butter, cubed
2 cups bourbon
Heat butter in a medium heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat. Cook butter, whisking constantly,
until it turns dark golden brown and has a nutty aroma, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat
and let cool until lukewarm. Pour the bourbon into a jar and add the brown butter. Whisk butter and
bourbon to mix. Cover the jar and let sit at room temperature until the fat rises to the top, about 5-7 minutes.
Whisk again. Repeat this wait-whisk process two more times. Cover the jar and place in the freezer for
12 hours. Line a mesh-strainer with a few layers of cheesecloth and set over a clean jar. Strain the bourbon
into the jar. Refrigerate the bourbon until ready to use. Save the butter solids for another use.

Sage honey syrup (makes approx. 6 ounces)
10 grams (about 0.35 ounces) of fresh sage leaves
100 grams (about 3.5 ounces) of water
100 grams (about 3.5 ounces) of honey
For this recipe, we recommend using a scale to measure by weight, which is more accurate
than using measuring cups. Honey, alone, doesn’t incorporate well into drinks because of its thickness.
Honey syrup does the trick! Boil the water. Once boiling, remove from heat, add sage, stir, cover,
and let sit for 30 minutes. Weigh 64 grams of sage-flavored water and pour into a clean container.[There will be some excess sage-flavored water remaining. This was to permit some evaporation
during boiling. Dispose of the excess water.] Add honey to the container with sage-flavored water.
Close and shake. Refrigerate the syrup until ready to use.

We know pumpkin spice is all the rage right now, but we love apple spice. How dare we, right? Deliciously spiced apples come in many forms. They are both comforting like a good pie and warming to the soul as a hot cider.

Coming into the holidays, and let’s be honest, year-round, we adore brandy. You can make brandy out of many fruits, but if you’ve never tried apple, boy, are you in for a treat. Calvados is a region of France that exports wonderful apple brandy. But many distilleries in the US also create this delight, including the oldest family run distillery in America, Laird & Company. Look for their flagship apple brandy, Applejack.

Allspice dram is liquor flavored with allspice berries. However, it brings in many wonderful baking spices like clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg along with the allspice. You can infuse your own if you feel so inclined, but St.Elizabeth makes a wonderful product.

Demerara is unrefined, high quality brown sugar, which comes in large crystals with naturally forming molasses. The Demerara sugar rounds out the apple and spice for the ultimate holiday trifecta.

Tiki drinks often use allspice dram and Angostura bitters, both having a Caribbean heritage. One classic tiki template is called Planter’s Punch. The name references plantation owners recorded as far back at 1694. Everyone seemed to have their own recipe around the Caribbean, but they followed the catchy rhyme: one of sour, two of sweet, three for strong, four of weak, and a touch of spice to make it all nice. We used this template with lemon, demerara syrup, apple brandy, ice, and angostura bitters + allspice dram to make it all very nice indeed. And there you have it my friends, a holiday punch that can also be your dessert!

Apple Pie Punch
3 ounces Apple Brandy (We recommend Laird’s Applejack)
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 ounce Demerara syrup (recipe below)
1/4 ounce Allspice Dram (We recommend St.Elizabeth)
2 dashes Angostura bitter
Combine all ingredients in a shaker tin with ice. Shake 12 times, and strain into Collins glass.
Fill with crushed ice. Garnish with apple slice and cinnamon stick.

Demerara syrup (makes approx. 6 ounces)
100 grams (about 3.5 ounces) of water
100 grams (about 3.5 ounces) of Demerara sugar
For this recipe, we recommend using a scale to measure by weight, which is more accurate
than using measuring cups. Combine equal parts sugar and water with an immersion blender.
Cover and refrigerate the syrup until ready to use. [If you can’t find Demerara sugar,
substitute brown sugar.]

Teakwood Tavern Thanksgiving Wine Guide:

Selecting wines to pair with your Thanksgiving meal shouldn’t add to any holiday stress. And yes, we meant to say wines, plural. Below, we provide a few tips for selecting wines that will bring extra holiday joy.

However, before we break down our recommendations, let’s make one thing clear: we’ve all been through a lot this year so if there was ever a time to drink what you want, THIS IS IT! Forget about what pairs well, and think about what’s going to make you happy. Now go buy a case of that wine!

Everyone’s Thanksgiving meal is different; however, there is one thing that many meals have in common—various foods gathered together on a single plate. Each bite bringing a different flavor profile to match with your wine selection. This is why there’s no perfect Thanksgiving wine. But there are wines that play more friendly than others with a wide range of foods.

Dry sparkling wines pair well with a wide variety of foods so it should be no surprise that these wines can hold their own at a Thanksgiving table. The acidity cuts through rich, fatty foods and balances tart items like homemade cranberry sauce. The effervescence also helps to cleanse your palate as you jump between bites of different items. While a blanc (white) version will do the trick, especially a blanc de noir, we’d recommend finding a dry sparkling rosé. The sparkling rosé should showcase some red fruits, which add a nice touch to everything mentioned above. One last note on sparkling: there are plenty of incredible sparkling wines from places other than Champagne. Spend your money wisely and purchase two bottles of sparkling for the price of one Champagne. You deserve it!

For still white wines, we recommend dry wines with racing acidity. Dry Riesling, dry Chenin Blanc, and Grüner Veltliners are super food friendly wines. We specify “dry” for the Riesling and Chenin Blanc because both wines are produced in both dry, off-dry, and sweet styles. You can find delicious dry Riesling from Willamette, Oregon; Washington; Finger Lakes, NY; and Alsace, France. For dry Chenin Blanc, seek out Savennières from the Loire Valley, France. For Grüner Veltliner, look to Wachau, Austria.

Switching to red still wines, we recommend seeking out light to medium-bodied red wines that have good acidity, low to medium tannin, and less than 14% ABV. Again, acidity is your friend when pairing wine with so many different foods, and that is true for red wines as well as the sparkling and whites mentioned earlier. Also, with the low to medium tannins and less than 14% ABV, these wines won’t overpower the food. Rather, they will blend seamlessly with each bite, no matter whether it’s turkey with gravy or green bean casserole. Here, we’d recommend Pinot Noir from Willamette, Oregon; Cabernet Franc from Chinon, France or Finger Lakes, NY; Cru Beaujolais from Beaujolais, France; Mencia from Bierzo and Ribeira Sacra, Spain; Barbera from Alba and Asti, Italy; and wines produced from Sangiovese like Brunello di Montalcino and Chianti Classico. All of these wines showcase red fruit, which works well with many of the traditional Thanksgiving flavors.

If you’re a fan of bigger wine, well, we’re impressed you kept reading. We’ll reward your patience with a few recommendations. First, a California Zinfandel will serve you well. It’s robust fruit and baking spice notes are a perfect match for a Thanksgiving feast. A GSM blend (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre) from either Southern Rhone or California works well with gravy and herb stuffing. The Syrah and Mourvèdre bring the power and structure that fans of big wines will appreciate, and the Grenache rounds everything out with flavors of cherry, strawberries, and raspberries. Lastly, if Cabernet Sauvignon is your jam, then here’s a hint: grab a bottle with some age on it. In fact, that goes for both the Zinfandel and GSM blend recommendations. Tannins soften with age so these wines become more approachable for pairing food after a few years of aging.