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3 Not-So-Classic Thanksgiving Cocktails

by Warren Bobrow, Wild Table editor, food writer and cocktail whisperer


Up the road from where I live is the Morristown National Historical Park. It was here that George Washington’s troops hunkered down in sub-freezing temperatures. They were starving. Yellow fever was rampant. Their frozen boots offered no relief from the ever-present chill, so the troops boiled them for soup. A horrid thought really.

Just down the hill in Morristown, NJ, the officers and General George Washington lived a slightly different life. It was there, in the Ford Mansion that this punch may have been served. At holiday time, the Wassail Punch was a favored beverage by the elite, General Washington included. This is my version using modern ingredients.

Wassail Punch

  • 2 quarts fresh unfiltered apple juice
  • ½ bottle of Laird’s Apple Brandy
  • ½ bottle dark rum
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 1 or two pinches of allspice
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 pinch freshly shaved ginger
  • 1 pinch freshly ground nutmeg
  1. Combine apple brandy, rum, apple, orange juice and lemon juice In a slow cooker or a large pot over low heat.
  2. Season with cloves, ginger and nutmeg. Bring to a simmer. If using a slow cooker, allow to simmer all day.
  3. Serve hot and remember George Washington’s troops freezing in the woods of Jockey Hollow.


Around the same time of year, actually only a few weeks later, the Hessian mercenaries were enjoying their rum in the woods surrounding Trenton, NJ. They were not starving having plundered many of the local farms for their livestock. A favored drink was the over-proof rum that was always made available to them to stave off dysentery, a bullet wound or certain kinds of social diseases. My modern adaptation of this rum punch involves Stroh Rum 80% alcohol, which translates to 160 proof. This drink adds malted milk powder, then the liberal application of chocolate ice cream. It makes for a winter warmer that cools then heats in equal measure. This very adult malted milkshake drink is named the Thirteen in honor of the 13 original colonies.


  • 1 to 2 shots of Stroh (Austrian) Rum
  • 2 tablespoons of malted milk powder
  • 1 scoop of the darkest and bitterest chocolate gelato you can buy
  • 2 cups milk
  1. Add malted milk powder, then milk, and then chocolate gelato to a blender. Pulse until smooth.
  2. Add rum and pulse to mix.
  3. Serve in a tall glass.


Over in New York, the British were still in control of their environment. Manhattan was a rough and tumble place for mercenaries, soldiers and regular folks. The British, being the rulers of their domain, didn’t expect that a roving band of interlopers would ruin their Thanksgiving meal.

This cocktail I named the Little Miss Muffet. It’s an adaptation of the drinks enjoyed in the New York City area in the period just before the British were shown the door.

Little Miss Muffet

  • 4 ounces dark rum from Siesta Key Rum
  • 2 ounces Tuthilltown Manhattan Rye Whiskey
  • 1 ounce Root USDA Certified Organic Root Tea
  • 6 ounces chai tea freshly brewed and cooled
  • 2 ounces lime juice freshly squeezed
  • 2 ounces maple syrup (Grade B Extra Dark Amber)
  • 3 drops Bittercube Blackstrap Bitters
  • 3 drops Bittercube Orange Bitters
  1. Shake well in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
  2. Coat a glass with maple syrup.
  3. Strain liquors into rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Makes several cocktails so warming and powerful that you may see spiders as you sit down on your tuffett.

Get more of Warren’s musings, reviews and experience hunting at Wild Table. Our personal favorite is his new 5 Questions column. Or check out his newest social media inspiration: Exploring the State of Now.