Let’s face it: Thanksgiving this year is going to be tough. Whether you invite friends and/or family who did or did not vote the same way as you did, you’ll either be clashing or commiserating together. The solution? Throw back a few the night before to take the edge off. Whether you are meeting up with old friends or just procrastinating peeling that mountain of sweet potatoes, these bars have got it going on November 23.
Before you stuff your face and curl up on the sofa for a Tryptophan-induced nap, head to the Adams Morgan whiskey palace and drink your dinner. From November 21 to November 23, Jack Rose is serving up Thanksgiving dinner in liquid form, via a five-course cocktail menu inspired by dishes and sides, including house made and infused spirits, syrups and bitters that lean both savory and sweet.
Find it difficult enough already to select a cocktail from Bourbon Steak’s incredibly inclusive drinks tome? Well, things just got a little tougher. Head bartender Torrence Swain is offering the Cranberry Saucing starting on Thanksgiving Eve. It’s made with Corsair Old Punk (a pumpkin-spiced whiskey from Tennessee), house made cranberry sauce syrup, lemon juice, Malbec and unsweetened coconut milk, served up in a chilled coupe glass and garnished with a rosemary sprig and dried cranberries. It’ll make you forget all about that silly “whole berry or jellied” canned argument.
The Latin-influenced sushi bar on 14th Street is hosting a Thanksgiving Eve Party featuring a rooftop DJ and specially-themed cocktails and shots from beverage consultant Gina Chersevani inspired by the love, family and drama surrounding the holidays. Drinks include Who’s Coming for Dinner? with Wild Turkey Rye, cranberry spice, cranberry and orange bitters; I Am Thankful For, with Smith & Cross Rum, Japanese pumpkin, lemon and cranberry bitters; Maybe We Should Switch Seats, with Don Amado Mezcal, lime and cranberry shrub, fresh lime and Champagne; and I Will Have Another Helping “101”, with Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon, orange, pickled cranberries and rosemary.
Class things up before Cousin Eddie or his ilk arrives on your doorstep at Derek Brown’s James Beard award-nominated bar in Shaw, where you may find one of the country’s best bartenders, JP Fetherston, behind the stick. Columbia Room’s fall menu (served in the Spirits Library) pays homage to the falling leaves, with libations like Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground, with Armagnac, vin rancio, muscat vin doux, pu’erh tincture, tamari and twig. In the Tasting Room, cocktail and menu pairing favorites include The Airs Up There ,with pisco, Andean leaves, lemon pear, bitter salmon, aquafaba and cinnamon ash, served with sheep sorrel leaf, aged beef fat, sudachi and cucamelon; and The Sugaring Season, with Canadian rye whisky, dry vermouth, fenugreek leaf, fresh apple juice, acorn and maple syrup, served with eucalyptus-smoked trout, smoked egg and pine oil.
Meeting up with a group of old friends on Thanksgiving Eve? Then globally-inspired shareable plates and large format cocktails are the way to go. This new concept at the Hotel Monaco in Chinatown is serving up convivial options including Korean fried chicken wings, fried meatballs, shishito peppers and crispy calamari. Wash them down with the Praying Osmanthus (serves 4-6), with Osmanthus-infused Lustau Fino Sherry, shochu, apricot, house made orgeat and citrus; and Two Left Feet (serves 2), with Ford’s Gin, Mediterranean tonic and botanicals.
The U Street Corridor urban dinner is hosting a happy hour that night from 5-8 pm, with half price bottles of wine, food and music. One of their latest liquid creations is the rye- and maple-based Winter Soul, a seasonal cocktail that’s bound to get you in the mood for the stuffing and sweet potatoes the following day; it’s got Old Overholt Rye Whiskey, maple syrup, pineapple juice and lemon juice. If you are a fan of their New American eats and craft beers, be sure to head there that night--they’ll be closed on Thanksgiving Day.
Practice the art of keeping that bird juicy with the Wild Turkey Baster, a cocktail available both at Robert Wiedmaier’s downtown and Bethesda outposts. Guests receive a chilled glass with with lemon, lime and orange juices and simple syrup, and a baster syringe filled with (what else?) Wild Turkey Bourbon. It’s up to you whether you use restraint or squeeze in the entire contents (and we won’t judge either way.)
In honor of Edith Roosevelt’s spice cake recipe that was published in the 1906 publication of “Famous Old Recipes Used a Hundred Years and More in the Kitchens of the North and South Contributed by Descendants,” the Teddy Roosevelt-inspired bar is serving up the Edith Spice cocktail. It’s made with Cruzan Rum, Averna Amaro Siciliano, The Bitter Truth Pimento Dram, orgeat syrup and pineapple juice, topped with lime foam.
Dreading the arrival of your spouse’s parents from over the river and through the woods? The duo of American comfort food dens (with stellar beer lists and something for everyone on the cocktail menu) feels your pain. All evening on November 23, bartenders will be serving the Avoid The In-Laws ‘Rita, with Tequila, triple sec, sour mix and a splash of cranberry.
No matter when and for how long you need to prep for the following day, the Shaw bar has you covered, with not one but two happy hours on Thanksgiving eve, running 3-7 pm and 10 pm-1 am. Bartenders will be serving up house made amaro including pumpkin amaro, and classic cocktails like an El Dorado White Rum Daiquiri, a Cimarron Tequila Paloma and a Pikesville Rye Old Fashioned.
Find your inner zen before you tackle that Thanksgiving day timeline and to-do list at this Mosaic District spot, where you can spend a relaxing event painting and sipping wine. November 23’s theme is “Country Pumpkin”, and the session runs 7 to 9:15 pm. Are you a Type A perfectionist who finds painting too stressful? Just settle in with a few glasses of wine and encourage your friends.