When people talk about the holidays, what’s the one thing they say is most important? Quality time with friends and family, right? But if they weren’t trying to impress anyone, they’d probably be more honest and say: “the food.” The gluttonous holiday season — with its stuffing, roasted turkey, ham, candied yams, technicolor Jell-O’s, and endless rolls — is why everyone decides that the first week of January is the right time to join a gym (and then promptly forget to ever go).
But you have wash down your cornbread and cranberry sauce with something right? And with a meal this heavy and rich, you’ve gotta go with whiskey. Bartenders across the country each have their own favorite whiskeys to pair with holiday fare. At the Park Hyatt Aviara’s Park Lounge in Carlsbad, California, Evgeny Anisimov always reaches for the Wild Turkey.
“A few years ago during the holiday season, I had the pleasure of spending some time at the Wild Turkey distillery in Kentucky,” he says. “The level of hospitality and warmth and welcome I received from Russel’s family was incredible. From now on I can only associate Thanksgiving with Wild Turkey bourbon.”
Robert Hall, bartender at Southside Smokehouse in Landrum, South Carolina says that whisky inevitably plays a vital role in his holiday plans.
“In the south, our Thanksgiving holiday meals are rich, creamy, sweet, and usually over-indulgent,” he says. “Before and after dinner, our family enjoys a new Scotch whisky each year. My favorite is the Sherry Cask Springbank. It’s light, but still complex and rich and the sweet finish is wonderfully executed.”
These anecdotes left us wondering which expressions the rest of our favorite bartenders like sipping on while they chow down on turkey and stuffing. They were nice enough to tell us.