Cocktails and Canapes: Thanksgiving
There is something special about the holidays. A quality of warmness that gives gatherings a little more meaning and purpose. People are slowing down, reflecting, and listening. People are present.
But let's be honest: holidays aren't always easy if you're the host. There are rooms to clean, dishes to bake, allergies to avoid, tables to set, feelings to spare, drinks to pour, requests to indulge. There's a pressure to be perfect and put together and to make grand gatherings seem effortless.
To give you a leg up, this season we've partnered with The Salted Table and WithCo to show you how to be the consummate host. Serving up: simple designs, delicious meals, and the opportunity to be present with those you love. Happy holidaying, friends. May your tables be blessed and your refills be many.
First up: Thanksgiving.
Setting the Table
There's always so much focus on the table for Thanksgiving. It's the centerpiece of the day where everyone will gather and graze, heaping on one helping after another.
While people often break out the heirloom china and carefully penned place cards, I think sometimes that's too much pressure for a space about to be bamboozled by 20 pounds of mashed potatoes and pecan pie.
Holiday tables don't have to be perfect and pristine. They just need to be welcoming. You want to create a place you can sit for hours while seconds and thirds are passed around, where you can laugh until your sides ache and tell stories until the last candle burns out.
For our Thanksgiving table, we used simple white dinnerware and added a textured napkin. If you utilize a less traditional fold and add in a touch of nature (in this case, wheat), it's amazing how much more put thoughtful each setting feels.
For every table we create, we love to incorporate a touch of color and light. A table can seem bare and basic, but these details dress it up in an effortless way. Instead of opting for traditional floral displays (can be time consuming and pricey), we got a few sprays of bittersweet and set them on the table in a garland-like fashion. We also added in softly colored tapers from Creative Candles. Using a different colored candle can make the design feel just a touch more thoughtful than simply using a standard white.
Setting the space for the full day means also thinking about where guests will move after the table has run its course. Create a spot where your family and friends can gravitate when their bellies are happy and glasses are full. Adding just a touch of seasonal decor — in this case a little dose of fall foliage and some golden votives — can make that space feel all the more curated.
Cocktails by WithCo
Want to really dress up the day? Opt for a specialty cocktail. While wine is a staple, cocktails are an occasion. They somehow immediately make you feel cared for and special.
Our go-to for cocktails in town is WithCo. Their batches are delicious but, most importantly, they're simple. You don't have to stand in the corner peeling lemons for an hour. You don't have to twirl a glass on your pinkie finger and light anything on fire. You can pour, stir, garnish, and go. You can actually spend time with your friends instead of spending time with their beverage.
For our Thanksgiving set-up, we opted for two of their mixers: The Ellis Old Fashioned and The Bouquet. I always love having two choices — one drink that leans a little more feminine and one a little more masculine. The Ellis Old Fashioned is downright fall perfection and husband-approved, while The Bouquet is terribly ladylike and a crowd pleaser.
If you're in Nashville, I can't recommend them more highly. Pop on over to their store in East Nashville and grab a bottle or twelve: 1006 Fatherland St. #205 Nashville, TN 37206.
Thanksgiving Dinner by The Salted Table
Then, of course, is the star of the show: the meal. Everyone loves a good Thanksgiving spread; it's the perfect excuse to indulge, try new things, eat far too much, and go back for more helpings.
Unfortunately for my husband, my kitchen skills are somewhat lacking. I make a mean piece of burnt toast but beyond that it all gets a bit chaotic and brittle. That's where I cue my favorite foodie resource: The Salted Table.
I adore Charles and his team. Thoughtful. Exquisitely talented. Beyond kind. The food he creates is delicious and approachable. The presentation, Bon Appetit worthy. I also simply love where he serves: your home. Charles and his crew will come to your house, settle on into the kitchen, and allow you to be where you should be: with your family and friends.
For the holidays, The Salted Table also has the perfect set-up. He does the meal prep for you and drops everything off the day before with easy-to-follow reheating instructions. For those like me who are a bit lacking in the cooking department, this is the ideal middle ground. I get to be in the kitchen and play a part in the serving process, but I don't have to master an art overnight. And for those who are great in the kitchen but simply have too much to do, this alternative also gives you the gift you need most this year: time.
For our Thanksgiving spread, Charles outdid himself, per usual. Peppercorn Crusted Pork with Port Wine Reduction paired with Chamomile Roasted Root Vegetables and Butternut Squash Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette.
Mouth watering yet? See recipe below for that delectable pork.
Peppercorn-Crusted Pork w/ Port Wine Reduction
1 3-4lb Pork Loin (Trimmed)
1/4 Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
2 Tbsp. Granulated Garlic
2 Tbsp. Onion Powder
2 Tbsp. Kosher Salt
3 Tbsp. Clover Honey
1 Whole Onion, quartered
3 Carrots, peeled & chopped
4 Stalks of Celery, chopped
3 Rosemary Stems
Port Wine Reduction
1.5 cups pork broth, strained
1/2 port wine
1/2 stick butter, chilled & cubed
kosher salt & pepper (to taste)
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rub the pork loin with honey, and then blend the pepper, garlic, onion powder, and salt together. Coat the outside of the loin until most of the spice blend covers the pork. Place in a 2-inch deep pan with 1 cup of broth and the chopped vegetables & rosemary. Cook until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees, pull it out and let it carry-over cook the rest of the way. Allow to rest for 15-minutes before slicing to allow the juices to redistribute evenly.
2. Heat the broth in a sauce pan over medium heat, when the liquid comes to a simmer, add the port wine and allow mixture to reduce by a third. Turn the heat off and whisk in the cubes of butter until fully dissolved. Pour over the pork before serving or serve on the side. Enjoy!
NOTE: If you add the butter while your broth is still on the heat, it will break and you'll notice the butter floating on top. So remove it completely from the range.
Recipe by Salted Table