Normally, when people think of beverages to enjoy with Thanksgiving, their minds go to Beaujolais nouveau, sparkling wine, autumn ales and punch. But sometimes you want a proper cocktail with your turkey dinner, maybe even one that evokes the dishes that make up the table spread. Ruben Hernandez—the head bartender at New York City’s Mediterranean restaurant Miss Ada—was inspired to create a salad stand-in that stems from the Mediterranean tradition of mixing arak with water, mint and citrus over ice. The strikingly colored Beet-On, with arak, beet juice, lemon, sugar and mint, was the result.
Arak is often confused with arrack, a spirit made in Indian and Southeast Asia, but the two are distinctly different. Reportedly the oldest flavored spirit in the world, arak is a grape-based liquor flavored with anise seeds and comes from Western Asia. It’s especially popular in Lebanon; the Mediterranean country is a major producer of the spirit, and also one of the few places that has regulations on how it’s labeled. Arak pairs well with a variety of flavors, and in the Beet-On, beets provided the perfect base to it thanks to their earthy sweetness. They also add a gorgeous, intense color, and purple, pink and even rainbow ones work equally well.
The richness of the drink is balanced with simple syrup for sweetness and lemon juice for the bright acidity needed to cut through the earthiness of the beets. Mint, a classic pairing with arak, adds some light botanicals. To add a savory tanginess, feel free to garnish with a sprinkle of goat cheese. That will make it even more of a Thanksgiving-themed cocktail.
- 1 1/2 ounces arak
- 1 ounce beet juice
- 1/2 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 1/2 ounce simple syrup
- 4 mint leaves
- Garnish: mint sprig
- Garnish: crumbled goat cheese (optional)
Add the arak, beet juice, lemon juice, simple syrup and mint leaves into a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.
Double-strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice.
Garnish with a mint sprig and crumbled goat cheese (optional).