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A Whiskey and Tea Cocktail Made for Holiday Evenings


We teamed up with Johnnie Walker to share a cocktail that’s a twist on the old-school highball. With a mix of smoky flavor, ginger, and spice, it’s a cozy special-occasion drink you can sip throughout the holidays and beyond.

For me, Thanksgiving has always been about gathering with and giving to others. I’ve been hosting and cooking a Thanksgiving meal for over 10 years now, no matter the size of my home or the state of my kitchen. My first was in a teeny East Village apartment, where I stirred gravy and cooked cranberry sauce over a hot plate that the landlord had dropped off after five months of no heat or gas.

I spent most of my money on fancy cheeses for a four-cheese macaroni and cheese, which I served alongside a 12-pound roast turkey with all the fixings to a grand total of three guests. But all that effort was worth it, since it culminated in sitting on the couch with my friends with a full plate, raising our glasses in a celebratory and well-earned toast. “Happy Thanksgiving!” we cheered.

Living so far away from most of my family—my parents reside on the opposite coast and the rest of our extended family live abroad—has always made traveling for Thanksgiving unfeasible. My way of coping was to take on the full bird and sides as the ultimate culinary challenge—despite my miniscule New York kitchen. (Many hours were spent mapping a way to fit all the pans in the oven so everything could hit the table warm.) In the weeks beforehand, I’d invite any family-less friends (old and new) to my dinner in an effort to try and provide them as close a resemblance to the idyllic Rockwellian Thanksgiving as possible.

Since that first dinner, my Thanksgivings have grown, as have my ambitions. Unsatisfied with just the conventional American-style trappings, I’ve endeavored to theme each year’s meal, rotating between three of my favorite food cultures: Mexican, Southern, and Korean.

In past years, I would make enough for 20, fretting that only eight people were slated to show—and again when 30 wayfarers would inevitably cram into our Brooklyn apartment. By now, I have the routine down to a tee: I cook a leisurely breakfast while watching the parade, right after which the turkey goes in the oven; when guests begin to arrive mid-afternoon, it’s time for cocktails. Usually that means mixing glasses of something unique, to kick the celebration up a notch. I invariably lose track of my glass in the hubbub, but once I retrieve it and we sit down to eat, it’s toasts and cheers all around.

It’s warm, it’s familiar, but it’s still a heck of a lot of work. And this year, I’m honestly a little thankful to not be doing that. While I’ll miss the opportunity to celebrate the holidays as I’ve known them, I’m also excited to kick back and revel in some well-deserved time off—from both the yearly cooking marathon and the daily grind of remote working. With the pressure to deliver an abundantly picture-perfect feast removed, I can hone in on my favorite dishes to enjoy solo. So while I forgo the multi-hour prep, I’ll be able to revisit that first year’s four-cheese mac and cheese and mix up my favorite drinks. Less cooking means more time to sip cocktails on the couch!

This year, I’ll be stirring up this Tea and Whisky Highball. The smokiness from the Johnnie Walker is heightened by the warming spices of chai, and the refreshing bite from the lime and ginger ale makes this cocktail both a perfect aperitif and a soothing digestif. It’s a simple twist on a classic, but it feels fancy enough for a special occasion, whether that occasion is an all-out Friendsgiving or just a video chat with the people I love.

Speaking of which, I’ll definitely be missing the friends who usually warm my house in a frenzy. To make them feel a bit more festive, I’ll be sharing this cocktail with them, too—by sending a care package to their doorsteps with all the ingredients. Luckily, that’ll be easy thanks to this cocktail kit, which includes the whole shebang: bitters, ginger ale, tea, and of course, whisky. (I started the tradition of sending surprise packages to friends earlier this year, when I realized I was missing so many of their birthdays.) Knowing we’ll all be sipping the same thing—even miles apart—is exactly the kind of out-of-the-ordinary touch that makes a holiday memorable.

It’ll be a quieter Thanksgiving for sure. And yes, the extra folding table will stay in storage. But I’ll still kick up my feet, dig into a second helping of potatoes, and FaceTime my friends as we mix up our highballs—then have a little holiday toast.

Which cocktail are you planning to stir up this holiday? Let us know in the comments!

In partnership with Johnnie Walker, we’re sharing a whisky-forward cocktail to make all fall and winter long—perfect for hosting an intimate hangout or just hanging out in front of the TV. Want to send a cocktail to your family or friends, be they near or far this season? Have all the ingredients for this Tea and Whisky Highball—from the Johnnie Walker Black Label to the ginger ale—delivered right to their door with this nifty Cocktail Courier kit.

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