Thanksgiving Cocktail Hour

What is your favorite part about Thanksgiving? And lets not say being with family/friends or being thankful and make everyone else feel bad. I'm talking like do you crave pumpkin pie or look forward all year to stuffing? Or is it the post meal ritual falling asleep on the couch while watching football? For me, my favorite part of thanksgiving is the cocktail hour. There is nothing better - wine and cheese, small bites and the start of an amazing meal. 

The theme of Thanksgiving in my house this year is local - or a Pacific Northwest Thanksgiving. We are challenging ourselves to source 90% of our meal locally (within the Pacific Northwest). This includes everything from cocktails and wine to the turkey and accompaniments. 

Because Thanksgiving is such a beast of a meal, I like to start the day pretty light. This year our amuse bouche course will be a gorgeous artisan cheese board and Pacific Northwest oysters on the half shell with a cucumber mignonette. Libations for the amuse bouche will be a Pacific Northwest sparkling wine, local hard cider and a light and amazingly delicious cocktail made of fresh squeezed grape fruit juice, thyme, Lillet Blanc and local gin made by Big Gin. I used Big Gin, a local Seattle gin which is so smooth and balanced, but I do encourage you to use a local artisan gin in your area. 

See the recipe for the cocktail below - Cheers!

Grapefruit, Thyme, and Lillet Cocktail
Ingredients per drink

2 oz. fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
1 1/2 oz. Lillet Blanc, chilled
1 oz. dry gin
1 oz. thyme simple syrup, chilled (recipe below)
Wedges of grapefruit and sprigs of fresh thyme, for garnish
Optional: Prosecco, to taste or a splash of club soda

For the thyme simple syrup:
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
8-10 sprigs fresh thyme

For the thyme simple syrup:
1.    In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Bring to a boil, then add the sprigs of thyme and remove from the heat. Let steep for 5-15 minutes. (The longer the syrup steeps, the stronger the flavor will be. Taste the syrup every five minutes to determine how strong you want it.)
2.    Strain syrup into a clean jar, and discard thyme. Store in the fridge. Syrup will keep for at least 3-4 days.

For the drink:
1.    Combine the grapefruit juice, lillet, gin, and simple syrup. Add ice, and shake hard until well chilled.
2.    Pour into a chilled glass with ice, and garnish with a wedge of fresh grapefruit and a couple sprigs of thyme. Optionally, top the glass with a Prosecco, to taste. Serve immediately.