7 cocktails for surviving Chicago Thanksgiving conversation

This week’s blog post is by WDP co-host Matt Rocco, who lives in the Edgewater Glen neighborhood of Chicago with Professor Foster ( his “Brown Mom” wife), and their three-year-old daughter Viva, who is going to drown out your conversation with apple juice and pie.

They say you should never discuss politics or religion in polite company – but Thanksgiving isn’t about polite company, is it? It’s about family – and modern families like mine are culturally diverse, politically divided, spiritually splintered, and only polite until the tryptophan and Prosecco spritzers put the etiquette filters to sleep. That’s why I’ve compiled here a list of VERY specific cocktails designed to calm the nerves as the buttons are pushed on each hot-button issue or hackneyed old saw.

The Pension Crisis Sour

So your parents are former educators but your brother-in-law thinks teaching is for leeches out to bankrupt the Land of Lincoln? One of your cousin is an AFSCME steward, the other had a Rauner sign in his yard? Are city and state jobs with generous pensions stealing from the taxpayers, or is reneging on money already promised stealing from pensioners? All I know is, pumpkin infused bourbon with spiced syrup, egg whites, lemon bitters and sugar makes for an excellent Thanksgiving whiskey drink.

The Tom Skilling

Tired of the weather in Chicago? Wait five minutes, someone will complain about it. We get it, WE GET IT: This is going to be the worst winter in history, we’ll all be buried in snow, our furnaces will break, school will be canceled so many days the kids will still be in class in August, and most of us will end up in an icy grave. The first time someone starts talking wind chill indexes, fill a highball glass with ice, add cranberry juice (for that November feel) and lime juice, top it with gin and club soda, and garnish it with a wool scarf and a space heater.

The Bloody Mary-Worshiper

Your grandma and your sister at St. Mary’s thinks Francis is the “Cool Pope” – pro-science, slightly pro-unwed mothers, occasionally less anti-gay. Uncle Stephen and Uncle Michael think that is definitely not enough. Your Baptist sisters-in-law think you’re all a bunch of hell-bound Papists any way you slice it, so you might as well do the sign of the cross and combine black pepper, allspice, vodka, tomato juice, vegetable broth, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne, and celery salt and shove in a skewer of venison, Gouda, and squash.

The Brown Hornet

(That’s a Fat Albert reference, btw.) Can the man who sang, “Dad is great, he gives us chocolate cake!” really be a predatory monster? Is Dr. Huxtable really Mister Hyde? You know “the Cos’” is going to be a part of the conversation this year, and not just because your second cousin in an apologist for Leonard Part Six. Are Cosby’s every-growing number of accusers fame-seekers and gold-diggers, or is the truth finally coming to light? Is it fair for TV Land to bury a landmark part of our pop cultural history? (And my wife’s favorite show!) And whatever happened to Pudding Pops?

All you can do it put on your Gordon Gartrelle shirt, shake your head, and then shake two ounces of bourbon, and ounce of grapefruit juice, and a half ounce of honey syrup with ice and strain. Serve it to yourself so you’re sure no one slipped anything in it.

The Flaming Benghazi

A GOP lead panel just confirmed the repeated conclusions that there was no intelligence failure in the 2012 attacks in Libya. Reports on the economy are largely positive. Still, when the gravy clumps, someone at your party is going to blame it on the President. Time to grab a quarter ounce each of Kahlua and Bailey’s, a teaspoon of cinnamon and a splash of Goldschlager to set on fire. Blow it out and slam it down. Oops, I burned off my eyebrows. Thanks, Obama.

The Micro-aggression on the Beach

Cousin Rachel just got back from her first term at Bryn Mawr and now she’s bringing her hashtag activism to dinner. She’s armed with a several skimmed chapters of Naomi Wolf and this year she’s not going to put up with your brother Chad’s frat-boy smirking and Daniel Tosh sophomorics. (He’s the guy who brought the Goldschlager for the last drink.) Don’t try to “mansplain” this drink, just mix three parts citrus vodka to one part pomegranate juice and one part pear liqueur.

The Ferguson Fizz

Sparkling white wine, pomegranate juice and limes. The perfect accompaniment to the avalanche of privilege and the bursts of outrage sure to quickly follow the saying of grace. Time to get as drunk as that grand jury must have been.

There you have it – feel free to use these drinks to diffuse the tension and aid your Pilgrim’s Progress into a post-pumpkin pie nap. Or a post-sweet potato pie nap. Don’t get us started on which one is better.

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