Charles Joly, the chief mixologist at the acclaimed Drawing Room in Chicago, had never heard of Purim’s obligation to drink “until one cannot tell the difference between ‘blessed is Mordechai’ and ‘cursed is Hamen.’ ” When we asked him to design a few drinks for what he delightedly called “the Jewish drinking holiday,” he jumped into the task, reading up on the festival and asking Jewish friends to help. “I had a variety of response from friends,” he said. “Some vaguely remembered the festival, and others who could have written a book on it. It’s one of those things where there are traditions in every family.”
Spill the Wine
Wine kept appearing during my readings, so it made sense to me to make a cocktail with red wine as the base. At the end of the day, a red cocktail has lower alcohol than a spirit base, so if you’re enjoying it all night it won’t put you in a terrible state.
2oz Finca Crianza Rioja
1oz Spanish brandy (I used Senor Lustau Gran Reserva)
1/2 oz Pedro Ximenez
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
1/4 oz simple syrup (1:1)
3/4 oz Brut Cava
2 dash Angostura Orange bitters
Combine all ingredients except for Cava in a mixing glass. Add ice and shake well. Add Cava and roll to combine. Strain into wine glass.
Use a channel knife to cut a long twist and aromatize top of cocktail. Place decoratively.
Ethel Meets Esther
Joly adapted the second drink from The Ethel, an ode to the eponymous still at the North Shore distillery run by Sonja and Derek Kassebaum. It’s only available in Chicago, but if you can’t find their Aqauvit, says Joly, “you can always substitute. You’re not putting a man on the moon, and as long as it tastes good that’s what important.
The thing that kept coming up were these Jelly-filled cookies [Hamentashn]. Jam is something Midwestern bartenders use in cocktails quite a bit. We have to make cocktails delicious, right now, and if you are in a climate like this where nothing’s growing, we lean towards Jam and Jelly.
1 1/2 oz North Shore Aquavit
¾ Galliano l’authentico
Spoon orange marmalade
¾ lemon juice
¼ oz simple syrup
Combine all ingredients in mixing glass. Add ice, shake, and strain into chilled cocktail coupe. Use a vegetable peeler to cut a strip of orange peel, mist cocktail with oil, and place decoratively.