For cocktail maven Lauren Steele, bar manager at Oakland's Ramen Shop, the holidays were always an intimate affair. Though most of her youth was spent in Ashland, Oregon, her family moved around a lot. Typically Thanksgiving and Christmas were just for the immediate family and Steele, she loved it.
"There wasn't really anything outside of the ordinary [in our celebrations], but I did enjoy the holidays with them," remembers Steele. "Thanksgiving was always really fun—just having a massive meal and being able to eat as much of it as I wanted."
At Christmas, Steele's stepdad made sure Santa always stopped by. "He used to put out an ice cream sandwich and we would wake up and it would still be a perfectly cold sandwich with a bite out of it. I never put that together as a kid," she laughs.
It's been nearly a decade since Steele's been home for the holidays, but she's got a whole new set of traditions with her family away from family. Every year, she and a group of girlfriends head to the theater for a holiday-themed show—think "The Golden Girls Live!" or The Nutcracker—and dinner at a classic San Francisco restaurant like the House of Prime Rib.
Lauren Steele adds Appleton Reserve rum or Old Bardstown bourbon to warm Cure-All cocktail at Oakland's Ramen Shop.(Photography by Aubrie Pick)
But first there's Friendsgiving, the kind where everyone contributes a Thanksgiving dish. Last year, in true SF form, Steele made cioppino. "I don't know what it is about that dish, I just love it," she says of the white wine–based fish stew, a favorite on many a Bay Area table during the holiday season.
But she hasn't completely abandoned the rituals of childhood. Some, like her mom's restorative ginger honey lemon tea, remain close to her heart. "When I was younger, it was something at the end of the night to kind of calm me down," she says. "The first time I had it, I just loved it instantly."
At Ramen Shop, Steele has adapted the recipe and given it a grown-up twist. Her version, The Cure-All, is made with rum or bourbon (she recommends Appleton Reserve rum or Old Bardstown bourbon), fresh ginger and turmeric juices, echinacea and chamomile tea, honey, and lemon. Served warm, "it's really comforting at the end of the night—and great if you have an upset stomach."
The drink is served warm in a tulip glass with a cinnamon stick for aromatic garnish. For those who are avoiding alcohol, the cocktail is just as tasty without it.
// Ramen Shop (5812 College Ave., Oakland) is open daily from noon to 8pm for takeout and delivery. The restaurant will be closed Thanksgiving Day, ramenshop.com.
Recipe: Lauren Steele's The Cure-All Cocktail
Ramen Shop bar manager Lauren Steele likes Appleton Reserve rum or Old Bardstown bourbon in her Cure-All cocktail, but the warm ginger-lemon-honey concoction is just as satisfying without the booze.
(Photography by Aubrie Pick)
1 1/4 oz Cure-All syrup
3/4 oz lemon
6 oz hot water
2 oz of aged rum or bourbon
cinnamon stick (The Spice Hunter)
To make the Cure-All syrup:
1 cup clover honey
1 cup water
1 chamomile tea bag
1 echinacea tea bag
3 oz fresh ginger juice (peel, juice and strain)
2 oz fresh turmeric juice (peel, juice and strain)
Make the syrup first. In a pot, bring water to a boil and turn the heat to the lowest setting. Add the tea bags and allow to steep for 3 minutes. Remove the tea bags, making sure to extract any remaining liquid. Add the honey and stir until it is completely incorporated. Turn off heat and add the fresh ginger and turmeric juice. Give the syrup one last stir and allow to completely cool before storing in an airtight container or bottle.
In a tulip glass or large mug, add the cinnamon stick along with hot water, making sure to leave room for the other ingredients. Allow the cinnamon to steep for 1 minute before adding the lemon, Cure-All syrup, and either rum or bourbon (leave out the spirit for a non-alcoholic drink). Stir to incorporate the ingredients.
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