If anyone was ever going to create a Thanksgivukkah cocktail, it’s Oliver Kakos. The 34-year-old restaurant manager has worked in the food service industry for 20 years, so he could probably make a martini with his eyes closed, and he also knows what it’s like to celebrate multiple holidays with different families: “I converted to Judaism four years ago, but I’ve been keeping a kosher home and going to shul with my wife Lila for almost eight years… I do sense a conflict between Christmas and Hanukkah, simply because Christmas is so dominant in our culture.” When Oliver and Lila travel to their home state of Minnesota for the holidays, their hectic schedule is split between both families, 20 miles apart. “I once did three Thanksgivings in one day,” he added drily.
Beyond kitsch and cocktails, Thanksgivukkah offers Oliver—and millions of other Americans—a chance to blend cultures and identities with ease. “If you’re a Jew in Minnesota, it’s Christmas for two months. You don’t really see Hanukkah decorations. Thanksgiving’s kind of neutral ground—for non-Native Americans, at least. It’s fun to be able to combine the two holidays.”
His signature Thanksgivukkah cocktail, the Apple Tea Fizz, does just that: Apple Brandy evokes both apple sauce (latkes!) and apple pie (America!); smoky Lapsang Souchong tea conjures candles and Thanksgiving coziness; and citrus fruits, though available year round, are actually in season in the cooler months. And, hello, there is the option to LIGHT THIS BABY ON FIRE. An edible metaphor! What more could you want?
We invited Oliver into our studio—the small but charming abode of Scroll editor and co-host Stephanie Butnick—to show us how to whip up an Apple Tea Fizz.
We hope you enjoy it and make it for years to come, whatever the occasion.
Ingredients (makes 1 drink)
2 ounces apple brandy (Laird’s is local to the New York area)
1 ounce honey syrup (1:1 ratio honey to water—just stir together at room temperature)
1 ounce lemon juice
Pinch of Lapsang Souchong tea (available at Wholefoods, fancy grocery stores, and lots of regular supermarkets too)
Combine brandy, syrup, lemon juice, and tea leaves in cocktail maker. Shake vigorously. Pour into ice-filled glass, top with club soda. Use tea strainer or infuser to keep the tea leaves separate, if you wish. (But it does look pretty with the leaves floating about.)
Tip: This is Thanksgivukkah—you’re gonna need at least a few serves, right? Multiply quantities by ten and serve in a punch bowl or pitcher. Distribute to thankful family and friends as they walk in the door. Press play on our Thanksgivukkah playlist. Set out a bowl of warmed olives. Voilà: party.
Extra-special tip: Fill half of a hollowed-out lemon with brandy, set it afloat in your punch bowl or wide-rimmed drinking glass, then set alight. When the alcohol burns down, the brandy will be sweet and caramel-ly. Stir into drink, remove lemon rind, enjoy.
Related: The Bitter-Herb Bloody Mary
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Elissa Goldstein is Tablet’s director of audience development. She also produces Unorthodox. Follow her on Twitter here.