Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Skip Cookies this Purim, Go For the Hammered Taschen: Specialty Holiday Cocktails Help Adults Drown out Haman

Shushan Sunset and Sunrise.  I can't tell the difference, so be careful.

While dressing up, acting out Purimshpiels (Purim plays), making noise and listening to the story of how Queen Esther and Mordecai defeated Haman are for all ages, one holiday tradition is strictly for adults – drinking alcohol. Various sources advise us to imbibe until we cannot distinguish the difference between a curse on the evil vizier Haman’s name and a blessing on the Jewish hero Mordecai’s.

Some do suggest drinking only a little bit more than you usually do or indulging only enough to fall asleep since when you are asleep you can’t hear the difference between the two names.

These days moderation and designated drivers are advised, but many of us still take a sip or several to celebrate the Jewish victory, perhaps from a bottle of schnapps or whiskey after the Megillah reading. These cocktails are a little fancier. Think of them as your tipples in Purim costumes.

Two of the drinks are named after the ancient Persian city of Shushan to mark the extra day of fighting that walled city endured. The Shushan Sunrise is non-alcoholic and uses grenadine syrup, a pomegranate flavored sugar syrup available in liquor stores and other markets. The Shushan Sunset features pomegranate liqueur. Both were made with fresh lemonade from the supermarket’s refrigerator section.

Pomegranate liqueur is also featured in the Queen Esther champagne cocktail. Crown Queen Esther by dipping the rim of a champagne flute in lemon juice and then in sugar or powdered sugar before mixing the cocktail.

Vashti’s Venom has a bit of a bite from the bourbon, a bit of sweetness from the cherry cola and a bit of sharpness from the vermouth, giving the drink qualities I imagine Vashti must have had to attract and anger a king. Substitute cola for cherry cola if desired.

The popular apricot jam-filled hamantaschen cookies were the inspiration for the Hammered Taschen. Cookie crumbs on the glass rim and apricot nectar help recreate the flavor of the three-cornered pastry, an Ashkenazi favorite for the holiday.

Shushan Sunrise (Non-Alcoholic)
Serves 1

1 Tbs. plus 2 tsp. grenadine syrup
1 cup lemonade, chilled
Mint leaf, optional

Fill 12 oz. glass with ice. Pour 1 Tbs. grenadine syrup over ice. Add lemonade. Stir. Drizzle remaining syrup over top. (Do not stir.) Garnish with mint leaf if desired.

Shushan Sunset
Serves 1

1 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. pomegranate liqueur
1 cup lemonade, chilled
Mint leaf, optional

Fill 12 oz. class with ice. Pour 1 Tbs. of the liqueur over ice. Add lemonade. Stir. Drizzle remaining liqueur over top. (Do not stir.) Garnish with mint leaf if desired.

The Hammered Taschen
The Hammered Taschen

Serves 1

2 vanilla wafers
1 Tbs. lime juice plus extra for rim
1 Tbs. triple sec
1 Tbs. peach schnapps
2 Tbs. vodka
3 Tbs. apricot nectar

Crush cookies into a very fine powder. Dip rim of chilled martini or other cocktail glass in lime juice and then in cookie powder. Set aside. Combine 1 Tbs. lime juice with the triple sec, peach schnapps, vodka and apricot nectar in cocktail shaker. Fill with ice. Shake well and strain into prepared glass.

Queen Esther
Serves 1

1 tsp. pomegranate liqueur
Brut champagne or sparkling wine, chilled
3-4 pomegranate seeds, optional

Pour liquor in bottom of chilled champagne flute. Fill glass with champagne. Float seeds on top as garnish if desired.

Vashti’s Venom
Serves 1

1 Tbs. bourbon
1 tsp. sweet (red) vermouth
1 cup cherry cola, chilled
Maraschino cherry, optional

Fill 12 oz. class with ice. Pour bourbon and vermouth in glass. Stir. Add cherry cola. Stir gently. Garnish with maraschino cherry if desired.

This originally appeared in the j weekly.  Plus the cocktails were field-tested at a very fun adults only cocktail party.