Jive Turkey Cocktail

Your cocktail calendar entry for: November
25
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The Jive Turkey cocktail is the Thanksgiving holiday Drink of the Day this year.  As all but the drunkest of you know that’s tomorrow, November 25, so you’ll need a Thanksgiving drink.

We covered the basic history of the holiday a year ago when we mixed up the American Trilogy, a wonderful drink based on rye whiskey and apple brandy.  Today we refer you there to indulge any history buff leanings.  Here we simply focus attention on the term “jive turkey” and, of course, the drink.

When we think about jive turkey we’re not talking about the Brooklyn fried turkey provider by that name.  Nor do we think of a recipe for cooking a large bird.  You’re on your own in terms of cooking and hope you don’t need to break out the fire extinguisher.

The Phrase “Jive Turkey”

Besides the drink, the jive turkey we’re talking about is a combination of two words used in slang that have never exactly been complements to those they are directed toward.  Jive was used in slang all the way back in the 1940s to describe, according to Merriam-Webster, glib, deceptive or foolish talk.  Turkey, besides the bird, means a stupid, foolish, or inept person.

In 1974 the funk band the Ohio Players somehow used the phrase in their song “Jive Turkey.”  Soon enough “jive turkey” was something of a catch all for someone unreliable, exaggerated, or otherwise foolish.

The phrase was very much a 1970s bit of slang, but so hopelessly outdated by the 1990s that the dimwitted Homer Simpson used the term around kids to show how out of touch he was.  Today it’s pretty much just for comedic effect.

Jive Turkey Cocktail

The Jive Turkey cocktail, on the other hand, is neither insulting nor used for comedic effect.  At Death & Co, the famous bar in Manhattan’s East Village, they list it under Manhattan variations in their book.  They should know; it was invented there in 2009 by Jessica Gonzalez.  We could also see it described as a Negroni variation, with a split base between Rye and Bourbon, and Amaro CioCiaro stepping in where Campari used to be.  Either way,  it’s a solid cocktail perfect as a Thanksgiving drink.

Jive Turkey cocktail

Jive Turkey Cocktail

From Jessica Gonzalez at New York's Death & Co. in 2009.
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Equipment

  • Mixing glass
  • Nick and Nora or coupe glass

Ingredients
  

  • 1 oz Rye whiskey For Thanksgiving it certainly makes sense to use Wild Turkey Rye 101, but what you have on the shelf will work.
  • ¾ oz Bourbon
  • ¾ oz Amaro CioCiaro If by chance you're out of Amaro CioCiaro at the moment, just substitute Bigallet China China or Torani Amer. If you do so you may want to also add a dash of orange bitters.
  • ¾ oz Dry vermouth
  • ¼ oz Elderflower liqueur St. Germain is what your trusty liquor store will have.
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • Garnish: none

Instructions
 

  • Add all ingredients to your trusty mixing glass.
  • Add ice and stir to chill.
  • Strain into pre-chilled cocktail glass.
  • Drink.
  • Make sure the turkey is not on fire.
  • Rinse and repeat.
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