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Cheers! A cocktail to complement your Thanksgiving food coma

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
Tammy Coxen with Tammy's Tastings shaking up the Medicine Man.

Thanksgiving is less than a week away. Yikes!

So what do you offer your guests to drink?

“You'll see a lot of guides of what wine to pair with Thanksgiving dinner. And there's no right answer, right? Because the Thanksgiving table is so diverse, there's so many different food items on it, you're never going to have a perfect pairing. So cocktails can be a different way to go,” Tammy Coxen of Tammy’s Tastings said.

Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
The ingredients to make a Medicine Man.

She was muddling sage leaves with lemon juice as she explained she was mixing a drink that has some savory characteristics that would play off well with the typical flavors at the Thanksgiving table. 

The drink is called Medicine Man. Tammy’s is a riff off the drink by Ian Scalzo of Bourbon and Branch in San Francisco. Of course, she’s using as many Michigan ingredients as possible. That’s what we do.

One of the odd ingredients she put into the tin shaker was Spanish smoked paprika (no, not from Michigan).

“I really like this as a fall drink because that smoked paprika combined with the sage kind of makes me think of burning leaves. It even looks kind of like the color of some leaves this time of year,” Tammy said. This fall, just brush away the snow and you can find those leaves.

After she made the drink, I took a sip. The first thing I thought of was a light scotch with just a hint of smoke. But it quickly turned into something sweet and savory at the same time. It is hard to describe, but I don’t think I’d have this before Thanksgiving dinner or after Thanksgiving dinner. I want to taste this while I’m eating turkey.

Give it a try and see if you don’t want to serve it on Thanksgiving as well.

Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
The Medicine Man. Smack the sage leaf before placing it in the drink. That smack between your palms releases the aroma.

Medicine Man

3 leaves sage

2 oz light rum (We used Iron Fish)

3/4 oz lemon juice

1/2 oz maple syrup

1/8 tsp smoked paprika

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Garnish: sage leaf

Muddle sage leaves in bottom of shaker. Combine remaining ingredients in shaker with ice. Shake, strain into cocktail glass, garnish.

Tammy Coxen and Lester Graham are the authors of Cheers to Michigan: A Celebration of Cocktail Culture and Craft Distillers from the University of Michigan Press. The book is based on the Cheers! episodes heard on Michigan Radio.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Radio from 1998-2010.
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