The turkey has hit. Hard. Same with the mashed potatoes. And the cheesy Brussels sprouts gratin. And the pie. You were confident. I get it. But every year, without fail, there comes a moment in which we realize that a line has been crossed. We gaze across the Thanksgiving carnage, letting out a guttural ughhh or phewww or wowww, resonating somewhere between pure discomfort and total satisfaction. This is the time to save yourself. This is the time for one more drink.
Yes, one more drink. An after-dinner drink is mandatory, because that one last effort is what makes or breaks the rest of your night. I’m not saying you need to keep boozing. I’m just suggesting that you drink something that will make you feel better. A tonic. A digestif. A cocktail. Some tea. Because sometimes, a step further into the fire is the best path to safety. Here are nine drinks to get you out alive:
This tonic is a Bon Appétit classic. Most staffers have made this at least once in their lives, and Brad Leone himself makes it about three times a week. The perfect combination of muddled herbs, digestive bitters, and aggressive citrus juice, this tonic will throw a life preserver out and haul you and your stomach safely onto a floating door (which, by the way, is big enough for two).
Rye, Soda, and Lemon
This is my go-to open bar drink, because it’s pretty hard to mess up, never too sweet, and always available. Those same criteria make it perfect for some post-turkey action, regardless of where you are. About 2 oz. of rye, 3 oz. of very cold, freshly opened club soda, and a slice of squeezed lemon, all poured over big ice cubes. The acid and bubbles provide encouraging slaps to your face, while the slightly spicy rye lets you know you haven’t slipped into a coma just yet.
Amaro. And a Big Rock.
Sometimes you just need a pour of the good stuff. Yeah, amaro. I’ve been digging Fernet Michaud, Amaro Angeleno, and the always-trusty Montenegro Amaro lately. Take a minute to enjoy the thunderstorm of herbal flavor going on in these digestifs. And then thank the herbs for settling your stomach.
Fresh Spearmint Tea
I like a very loose definition of the word tea. Fresh, muddled spearmint, dropped in hot water? Yeah, that’s tea. This is a pretty common drink in North African and Mediterranean countries, so don’t go saying I made it up. Just make sure you let the spearmint sit for a while, so the refreshing, stomach-easing mint has a chance to show up.
Escubac and Tonic
Escubac is a very cool, new, botanical liqueur that you should be drinking, with tonic and a slice of orange. I already wrote about it over here. Fair warning: it will replace your gin and tonic, and you will be changed forever. Sorry(?).
Ginger Beer and Lime Juice
Moscow mules are fine. Same with dark and stormy’s. But in my opinion, ginger beer shines brightest when it’s mixed with a splash lime juice. No booze. The spicy, acidic bite will wake you the hell up, while the ginger settles your stomach. When it comes to ginger beer, I like Fever-Tree a whole lot. When it comes to lime juice, don’t hold back.
Cynar and Apple Brandy
I had this drink for the first time at Philadelphia’s The Good King Tavern, after a meal of substantial proportions. With equal parts Cynar (or any vegetable-leaning amaro) and bonded apple brandy (TGKT serves it with Lairds), this works just as well as a shot as it does in a rocks glass. Plus, apple brandy pairs extremely well with the lingering flavor of that second slice of pumpkin pie.
Tangy, floral hibiscus tea is a classic after-dinner drink, but we gave it a little more appeal with some spices, honey, and lemon juice. You can throw a little bourbon in there too.
The last recipe in Fergus Henderson’s The Whole Beast is a two ingredient cocktail. I first made it in college (trying to impress people), and I still make it today (trying to impress people), because really, it is the essential after-dinner drink. Two parts Fernet Branca and one part crème de menthe, poured in a tumbler filled with ice. It looks like green sludge, but it is absolute perfection. Alarmingly minty, herbal, and exhilarating, Henderson’s cocktail has brought me back from the brink enough times to get that Fernet-to-menthe ratio tattooed on my lower back.
I haven’t committed to that move yet though. I’ll wait until after I lose this turkey weight. It’ll look better then. Probably.