While families across the country pop open bottles of wine next week to enjoy during their holiday meal--and couch quarterbacks make regular runs to the fridge for another beer--Thanksgiving is also an appropriate time for a good cocktail. But a simple vodka tonic or whisky on the rocks is much too pedestrian for the special occasion; you need something that takes a little thought but not too much work--there is, after all, so much preparation going on already--and that above all touches on the season. For my preprandial Thanksgiving cocktail, I'm fixing the Falling Leaves.
Created by New York mixological maestro Audrey Saunders, the Falling Leaves is a great autumn drink that works well as a conversation starter as guests arrive. Not only rich and flavorful, the Falling Leaves packs less of an alcoholic wallop than a typical cocktail, so you'll be able to enjoy your drink without throwing yourself off stride while putting the finishing touches on the meal--and maybe even mix a second round at halftime.
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass and fill with cracked ice. Stir well for 20 seconds and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a whole piece of star anise.
To make honey syrup: combine equal parts honey and hot water and stir until honey is dissolved. Store in the refrigerator.