Keeping in mind all the multi-dish bustle that comes with Thanksgiving, this year I set out in search for a cocktail recipe that would be:
quick and easy to prepare (and replenish!)
adjustable to suit a wide range of age groups and tastes (with and without alcohol)
pretty and festive on the holiday table
a good pre-dinner drink, but also something that could carry over to complement the flavors and textures of the Thanksgiving meal
Tall order? Maybe, but I think I found a pretty good solution in an old holiday classic: The Poinsettia.
A sparkling wine-based cocktail with the added zip of cranberry and orange, the Poinsettia is a perfect fit for the Thanksgiving table. Dry, light, fruity, and effervescent, it packs a lot of flavor without being too heavy or boozy, and can easily be adapted into a tasty adult and kid-friendly teetotaling version by swapping out the sparkling wine for club soda, ginger ale, or sparkling apple cider, and subbing-in orange juice for the orange liqueur (or simply leaving it out).
Because the Poinsettia doesn't require precise measures, or shaking, stirring, or straining, and is mixed right in the drinking glass, it's super-easy to prepare - and refill - mid-meal.
A Google search turned up a boggling number of recipe variations (prepared in a punch bowl; with addition of simple syrup or rum; with more or less cranberry juice; etc.), but I turned to the ever-reliable Dale DeGroff for a simple, well-balanced formula:
Poinsettia (adapted from Dale DeGroff, The Craft of the Cocktail) makes one cocktail
2 ounces cranberry juice 4 ounces (approx. measure: enough to top up glass) champagne, prosecco, cava, or other dry, sparkling white wine 1/2 ounce orange liqueur (DeGroff suggests Cointreau, but I tried the less sweet, rum-based liqueur, Clement Creole Shrubb, and found it worked quite nicely.)
Pour cranberry juice into a champagne flute and top up with sparkling wine. Then top with a “float” (a final layer) of orange liqueur. Garnish with an optional twist of orange and single fresh cranberry.