I don’t greet people at the door on Thanksgiving. As I whirl around the kitchen, I hear my husband say “Hieee! Come in, come in!” over and over again as my wonderfully large family fills the room. But I do set out glasses alongside bottles of wine, beer, liquor, and pitchers of homemade cocktails before guests arrive; that does the job of greeting folks for me, as I continue with my mission to have dinner ready as the clock is ticking.
Since I’m not around to play bartender, the cocktails I’ve prepared stand their own, inviting guests to serve themselves. My favorites—apple cinnamon rum sangria, plum wine spritzer, and cherry lime rickey—don’t lack personality, and go from strongest to alcohol-free in strength.
The sangria gets its fizz from sparkling apple cider, a great celebratory drink on its own, but when added to cinnamon-infused rum—which you can DIY by leaving cinnamon sticks in rum for a week, or buy a flavored rum if you’re short on time—as well as white wine and a hearty dash of Calvados (apple brandy), it screams autumn. (It’s also strong enough for my Chivas-sipping uncles.) The plum wine is an all-year-long kind of drink, which is great news because it only has three ingredients. And even the sternest of liquor drinkers can appreciate this Prohibition-style cherry lime rickey, so inspired by Prohibition that it has no alcohol at all. This sweet and tart glassful is hard to dislike and kid-friendly, to boot.
I’ve learned, through frantically running around my kitchen as the doorbell rings, that the easiest way to serve up good spirit—and good spirits—is to go the fizzy route. It is also the fastest and simplest.
Apple-Cinnamon Rum Sangria
- 2 cups gold rum (Bacardi)
- 3 whole cinnamon sticks
- 750 milliliters sparkling apple cider, chilled
- 1.5 liters Chardonnay, or a good white wine, chilled
- 3/4 cup cinnamon rum
- 2 shots Calvados or a good apple brandy
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 orange, sliced
- 2 Granny Smith apple, chopped
- 1 shot plum wine (optional)
Plum Wine Spritzer
- 1/2 cup plum wine
- 3/4 cup seltzer water
- juice of 1 lemon
- pinches lemon slices for garnish
- ice cubes
Cherry Lime Rickey
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 7 limes, juiced (or at least 1/2 cup)
- 5 tablespoons cherry syrup (from maraschino cherry jar)
- 1 & 1/2 liters seltzer water (I prefer to use orange-flavored, but plain is fine)
- ice cubes
- maraschino cherries, limes or orange slices for garnish (optional)