Over the next 23 days – including yes, the very day of – we'll be sharing our time-tested hosting tips and recipes, as well as plenty from chefs, hospitality experts, celebrities (that's always fun, right?), hosts and home cooks we love. Our goal – sending you into Thanksgiving with a confident smile on your face, and seeing you emerge on the other side with your sanity intact.
Previously: T minus 23 - Pitcher drinks and Prosecco are a host's best friend.
We maintain that lemonade goes surprisingly well at any time of the year, but we also get where you're coming from.
Crowd-pleasing cold-weather drinks for T-Day
2 thumb-sized pieces of ginger
Slice ginger into 1/4" rounds. Bring 4 cups of sugar, the ginger slices and 2 cups of water to a boil, then a simmer until it thickens. Let it cool, then pour it into a clean jar with a tight lid, removing the ginger pieces. This is ginger simple syrup. Any that you don't use can be stored in the refrigerator for up to six months.
Slice the lemons in half, place them in a nonreactive baking dish and roast in a 350° oven until they're lightly browned. Squeeze half of them into a pitcher, discarding the peels. Muddle the other half with a wooden spoon at the bottom of the pitcher.
Stir in ginger simple syrup, tasting as you go, but don't over-sweeten. Add water to taste, but leave it a tad strong so it won't diluted over ice. Serve with a ginger slice garnish.
*Update: a reader below says, "I can't quite wrap my head around randomly combining sour/sweet/water until I get something drinkable. I'm more comfortable with rough proportions – 1:2:4"
My response: I used to publish ratios for sour/sweet/water, then inevitably people would complain – too sour and too sweet on the very same recipe! Tastes vary so wildly (I like mine very much on the sour side, and my husband likes his twice as sweet), so I believe people's own palates should be their guide.
So your guests didn't dig the mulled wine. Hey, that's their loss - but you don't have to ditch the idea of a warm, spiced drink. We love to heat up locally-pressed (if possible) apple cider in a large pan on the stove, and then amp up the flavor with pinches of cardamom, nutmeg, coriander, cinnamon, ginger and allspice to taste.
If there's a clementine orange on hand ('tis the season for them), stud it with cloves and let it sit on a radiator overnight. When you're ready to start simmering, cut it in half and add it to the pot.
Ladle the warm mixture into mugs and serve - offering a shot of dark rum or whiskey to those who might appreciate such a thing on a long, cold night.
The spiced cider can also be cooled down and served over ice, topped with a bubbly bite of ginger beer. Skol!
Got a Thanksgiving query or dilemma? Need techniques for roasting turkey or just looking for recipes to bust up your holiday rut? Wanna know what one of our anchors eats for T-Day? We're here to help. Post your question in the comments below and we'll do our best to assist.