With Christmas eve coinciding with the first night of Hanukkah for only the fifth time in 100 years, here are a dozen yuletide Hanukkah cocktails—one for each of the 8 candles plus the shamash, and an additional 3 for rounding out all 12 days of Christmas. To you and yours, a hearty L’chaim!
On the first day of yontif your true love pours for you…
1) Jerusalem Winter Tweet
1½ oz pear-infused vodka
3 oz pomegranate juice
1½ oz gin
½ oz blue agave syrup
6 ice cubes
Mix ingredients in a blender on high speed for 8 seconds or until ice is crushed to a Slurpee consistency. Pour into tall glass. Garnish with a flexible plastic straw. Prepare and serve, after the candles are lit, with pita and hummus, crispy latkes, Bubbe’s brisket, Yorkshire pudding, and cherry blintzes. A refreshing cooler for branches of the Tribe wintering in the goldene medina of Eretz South Florida.
2) Converso Punch (makes 18 servings)
1 bottle cava (Freixenet Excelencia—it’s mevushal, who knew?)
6 oz potato vodka
4 oz triple sec
12 oz Manischewitz Blackberry wine
8 oz Christian Brothers brandy
16 oz fresh orange juice
32 oz apple cider
Juice of 1 lemon
3 cups seedless red grapes
One Jaffa or Valencia Orange sliced into thin wheels
Block of ice
Mix all ingredients except the cava and ice in a large punch bowl and refrigerate for two hours. Add ice and cava when ready to serve. Ladle into white wine glasses.
Serve with eggs sunny side up, rye toast (surreptitiously spread with I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter), extra-crispy Tater Tots, salsa picante, and turkey sausage. Set just the right mood with a closed loop sound track of Handel’s Messiah, White Christmas, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire), Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree, and Santa Baby playing conspicuously in the background. This drink’ll straighten your beak.
3) Kislev Capitulator
This blend of French cordials topped with a beaten egg celebrates the invaders’ surrender of the Temple to the victorious sons of Mattathias. Instead of latkes, serve with crispy Freedom Fries in a paper towel funnel for draining off the excess grease.
1 oz yellow (because it’s not as strong as the green) Chartreuse
½ oz Calvados
1 oz Cointreau
White of 1 egg (makes 2 servings)
Peychaud’s Aromatic Cocktail Bitters
Shake yellow Chartreuse, calvados, and Cointreau over ice, then strain into a martini or cocktail glass. Beat white of one egg (by hand, in a conventional blender, or with a Cuisinart Smart Stick or other immersion blender) for 12-15 seconds to produce a thick white foam. Spoon half the foam over the contents of the cocktail glass, reserving the remainder of the foam for a second drink. Finish with three dashes of bitters.
“Donde esta Santa Claus?” Catching up on his voice mail while staring into the flickering menorah at the kitchen table with Hanukkah Harry knocking back a mess of these.
1 oz mezcal
1 oz vanilla flavored vodka
½ oz Kahlua
2 ½ oz cold milk (or light cream)
Dash orange bitters
Pour mezcal, vanilla vodka, Kahlua, and milk over ice into a rocks glass, stir, add a couple of shakes of orange bitters.
A favorite with hot powdered churros fresh from the fryer.
Spin ‘til you’re dizzy yet land on gimmel every time with the 5) Loaded Dreidel
1 ½ oz potato vodka
1 ½ oz Goldschlager
¾ oz Luxardo maraschino liqueur (or Cherry Heering)
Shake vodka, Goldschlager, and Luxardo with ice, strain into Martini glass. Garnish with lemon twist. Serve with chocolate gelt.
6) The Shitstorm
Maccabees 8, Syrians goose. What the Heebs rained down on Antiochus when recapturing the Temple.
1 ½ oz Gosling’s rum
1 ½ oz potato vodka
¾ oz crème de cocoa
2 pinches powdered cinnamon
Pour all liquid ingredients into a warmed snifter. Add two sprinkles of powdered cinnamon.
Enjoy with a schmear of foie gras or liverwurst on a slice of raisin challah.
7) Rudolph-the-Shamas will light up more than just the tip of your nose. In fact, it should keep you glowing till dawn. (For the designated driver, a blue knitted yarmulke and glass of lemon seltzer.)
3 oz Jim Beam
½ oz white peppermint schnapps
1 oz sweet red vermouth
Bright red maraschino cherry
Pour Jim Beam, schnapps, and vermouth over ice into a clean yahrtzeit glass. Stir once. Garnish with a big bright maraschino cherry (with stem removed).
Serve with eggrolls, General Tso’s chicken, beef chow fun, eggplant in garlic sauce, roast duck, and crisp fortune cookies from the neighborhood take-out.
8) Toasty Moishe Kringle
A warm stiff ‘thank-you’ for after the gifts have been delivered and the kids tucked snugly in bed. Goes down nicely while trimming the holiday bush and getting your chestnuts roasted to the cozy song stylings of Johnny Mathis on the speakers.
½ oz peppermint schnapps
½ oz absinthe (or Pernod)
1 ½ oz Sabra chocolate orange liqueur
4 oz hot hazelnut coffee
Pour schnapps, absinthe, and Sabra into a deep ceramic mug.
Add hot hazelnut coffee.
Top with swirl of whipped cream.
Garnish with cinnamon stick and serve with apricot rugelach and fruit cake.
9) Noel Nogilah (makes 9 servings)
The Menorah Hora of holiday hooch. You’ll be circling the furniture with visions of sugarplums dancing in your head. Hide the car keys.
1 quart store-bought eggnog
8 oz Flor de Cana Extra Dry White rum (it’s kosher!)
8 oz J&B (Jewish Booze) scotch
4 oz slivovitz
4 oz Chambord
3 cups ice cubes
Mix eggnog, rum, scotch, slivovitz, and Chambord in a punch bowl. Add ice. Sprinkle liberally with ground cinnamon, paprika, and nutmeg. Ladle into 6-oz punch cups.
Garnish with a little candy canes and serve with sufganiyot and fruitcake.
10) Merry Minyan
Help keep the X in Xmas by jump-starting your festivities and blurring any distinction between the literal and the figurative, the infinite and the temporal.
¾ oz Crown Royal
¾ oz Hennessy VSOP
¾ oz Johnny Walker Black (substitute Clan MacGregor or any less-than-$15 scotch poured out of a repurposed Johnny Black bottle)
4 oz club soda
½ oz simple syrup
¼ oz grenadine
Rinse rocks glass in simple syrup, reserve glass, and discard excess syrup. In a cocktail shaker, shake Crown Royal, Hennessy, scotch over ice, then, strain into syrup-rinsed rocks glass. Add grenadine. Top with club soda. Garnish with gornisht.
11) Tootsie Goodbye
Dreaming of next Hanukkah in Boca? When the wind whistles and the pipes freeze, recite a couple of shehecheyanus and down several of these.
½ oz Drambuie
½ oz J&B (or Johnny Black) blended scotch
4 ½ oz Piper Heidseck (or favorite) champagne
Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel-aged Cocktail Bitters
Pour Drambuie and scotch into a champagne flute. Fill with champagne. 2 dashes bitters. Doesn’t matter what you serve with it.
12) Shabbos Goy
Leave the job of turning off the electric menorah Saturday morning to someone else while you wake up to this eye-opener. An especially nice last-minute stocking stuffer for the surprise shaygetz your daughter brings home for winter break. It’s also—wrapped in recycled gift paper and tied up in a fancy green bow—a thrifty gratuity for all the service workers populating your holiday tip list.
1 50 ml airplane bottle of Jim Beam
1 12 oz can Budweiser (Miller, or Schlitz)
Best served at room temperature before dark. With one hand, knock back the Jim Beam all in one gulp, then with the other sip the Bud straight from the can. Nothing beats this pairing for washing down cold, purple 2-day-old latkes or—in further honor of the Hanukkah miracle—an entire individual can of light tuna packed in oil.
Louis Nayman occasionally writes for In These Times and the Times of Israel, has worked as a union organizer, and is considered by many to be a pretty good judge of bad whisky.