L’Chai-m

Just for one post, let’s abandon our pretense of anonymity and talk a little bit about the real place that indulges the Kiddush Club and its shenanigans. (Cool your jets, Security Committee, I’m not revealing anything you can’t find on Google Maps and the shul website). Last night, we celebrated 18 years in our current building, and of course Kiddush Club had to represent.

We settled on a martini bar within a few minutes of planning; somewhat predictably, an evening of inventing recipes took a turn for the inane.  (“We have to use curacao and slivovitz.” “In the same drink? Don’t we like these people?”)  We nearly came to blows over our non-alcoholic drink–was it subversive and cheeky to tweak a Christmassy cranberry sparkler, or a heresy we would never recover from?  Then someone dropped a synonym for mocktails that we’re usually careful not to use, and a genius idea was born.

A few days after our planning session, we had a rare moment of maturity and decided to run our jokes past their butts. (Um. Run our ideas past the butts of the jokes? Sorry, y’all, I’m a little rusty at this.) We nervously approached one of the most venerable of our past presidents, asking if she’d mind if, maybe, one of the special event drinks was named in her honor; since she didn’t tipple very often, we could reserve the un-boozed drink for her eponym. To our surprise, she grinned immediately. “You could even call it the Shirley Temple!”

With the addition of an apostrophe-S, that was pretty much exactly our plan.

Thanks to all of our past presidents for inspiring these cocktails, and for always inspiring, leading, and invigorating our community.

Recipes: With the exception of the Loevy-ly martini, all drinks can be mixed in a pitcher and poured for maximum crowd-serving efficiency. 

Shirley’s Temple: Make a cranberry simple syrup by mixing equal parts water, sugar, and whole cranberries and bringing to a boil. Add orange peel, sliced ginger, and a cinnamon stick; reduce to 2/3 of the original volume and strain. When cool, mix 1 part syrup, 2 parts ginger ale, and 2 parts seltzer with a splash of orange juice; garnish with an orange twist. (Upon request, vodka can be added.)

Bob-tanical: Make a botanical simple syrup by boiling together equal parts green tea and sugar with rosemary, winter savory, lavender (and juniper berries would be ideal, but we failed to track any down in time). Again, let the syrup reduce to 2/3 of its original volume, strain, and cool. Mix 1 part syrup with 2 parts tonic water and 2 parts seltzer; garnish with a spritz of lime and a dried Jamaican sorrel flower (or any edible flower). (Also delightful with gin.)

Shak-Ed, Not Stirred A standard* gin martini. 5 parts gin, 1 part vermouth, lemon twist.

O-Lou-ve Martini A standard* dirty martini. A splash of vermouth, plenty of vodka, olive juice and an olive garnish.

Diane Apple-korn**: 7 parts unfiltered apple juice, a splash of standard simple syrup, 3 parts slivovitz, 2 parts vodka. Garnish with a rosemary sprig. (We’d recommend also shaking with the rosemary sprig if you’re serving a smaller group.)

Loevy-ly Chocolate Martini***: Combine 2 parts creme de cacao, 1 part caramel schnapps, and 2 parts vodka. Shake with 2 parts cream and ice. Strain into a glass and garnish with chocolate sprinkles (ideally) or mini chocolate chips.

The Rodfei Zedek (dedicated to all the future presidents in attendance): 1 part blue curacao, 4 parts sake; garnish with lemongrass.

*Note that the individuals honored by these drinks are anything but standard.

**The runaway hit of the evening, much to our surprise–who knew slivovitz served for anything more than a punch line?

***Design credit to the supremely talented Nuclear Engineer (who faced her fears of vermouth while laying this out).

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The first Kiddush Club wedding

Y’all. Bert and Ernie are getting married today.

No, not that Bert and Ernie. I know it’s been a while, but try to keep up.

There are surprises in store, so look for an update late tonight (or maaaaybe Monday, because this is going to be one hell of a party). But, guys, we love you, and we can’t wait to raise our glasses to you today.

 

Esther, chapter 6: Seed of the Jews

To recap: Power corrupts some people, but some of them just suck anyway. .

The king couldn’t sleep, and apparently no one had thought of the nightcap yet. Don’t worry, your Majesty, we’ve got you covered now, but back then it was reading the Book of Records that made you tired. But sometimes when you do that, you learn something that has you staying up all night to plan a party instead (v.2). Even if that party causes your frenemies to worry about what will happen if the “Seed of the Jews” is in the house

Is there any seed more Jewish than caraway seed? We debated going full-on with the deli flavors (I own celery seed!) but decided to stop at rye whiskey for a drink with winter spices. ‘Cause what Mordechai is doing is pretty cold, y’all.

Recipe: Seed of the Jews (v.13 ) : Shake 1 ounce rye whiskey, 1 ounce caraway liqueur with ice, a teaspoon of honey (or honey syrup; if you use actual honey, some will stick to the shaker cup and that’s fine) and a generous splash of triple sec. Strain into a glass with ice; add a dash or two of bitters and twist over an orange peel before dropping it in the glass. Stir with a cinnamon stick and sip; it burns like the wrath of the king.

Esther, chapter 5: (Jewish) Royal Crown Royale

Recap: Misogyny, Beauty Pageants, Subterfuge, Plotting Mass Murder. No, this isn’t NBC.

Esther’s looking smoking, plus she’s doing that Donna Reed thing in the royal kitchen. (Or maybe she’s just coordinating servants?) The king and Haman continue their bromance at her feast, and what do you bring as a hostess given when asked to dine with The Crown? Gallows, apparently. Does no one appreciate a hand-embroidered towel anymore?

Recipe: (Jewish) Royal Crown Royale: Nuke claims that neither RC nor Crown Royale is kosher, so substitute a shot of Maker’s Mark and a glass of Coke. It’s almost as toxic as the leadership in Shushan.

(You could also revive The Golden Scepter here (v.2), or prepare a tasting flight to serve as “a banquet of wine” (v.6) ).

Thanksgiving Extra: Tofurkey-Tini

Some Thanksgivings call for a full liquid dinner. We’re pretty sure you can find a cranberry drink in the archives, and a hot spiced apple cider in place of the pie. We’ll challenge you to come up with the stuffing drink, but the celery numbers from Pesach should serve as a good base. Like the good hosts we are, we’ve made the turkey. Well, Tofurkey, because that’s how we roll (except for the Physicist, who ran in fear when we started free-associating this drink. Or maybe he just ran to watch the Steelers).

Recipe: Tofurkey-Tini: Shake 2.5 ounces gin (or vodka) with ice and 1/8 t. high-quality paste-type vegan broth base (avoid the powders if you can), adding a splash of olive juice if you’re using vodka and a little cracked black pepper with gin*. Ask the Nuclear Engineer to close her eyes while you swirl a couple splashes of vermouth in a martini glass; strain in the contents of the shaker, and garnish with a spring of rosemary and a sage leaf**.

*We’d also like to try shaking with cubes of sweet potato and a bay leaf, but for some reason the tray of roasted veg left over from dinner escaped our notice.

**Assuming Nuke hasn’t killed the sage plant.

Esther, chapter 4: A Bitter Cry Before the King

Sorry about the hiatus, Tipplers. Your hostess would like to thank the extended Kiddush Club for gin, love, quesadillas, hugs, soup, check-ins, beer, late-night ramblings, and many consent-informed zerberts*.

To recap: The king is morally compromised; Vashti is pissed. Esther is pretty (and Jewish); Mordechai is scheming (and Jewish). Haman is a prick.

This is your hostess’s chapter, in the South Side megillah tradition, and yet I’ve never thought about how to drink it down. (You might want to think about drinking before suffering through my rendition of the piece.) I’ve barely thought about the words, beyond desperately trying to memorize the ones from the illegible part of our scroll**. I know a few of the words, “ashes” and “bitter” among them,*** but it wasn’t quite the week for a smoky drink.

“We’ve got to do something about approaching the King,” texted the Soror. “Maybe we can do something with sackcloth and The Emporer’s New Clothes.” Indeed, there are a lot of King drinks out there, but ruling out the sweet ones narrowed the field quite a bit.

Luckily we know (v.1) that Mordechai uttered a bold and bitter cry—we can work with those descriptors. If you haven’t had a drink for three days (v. 16), break your fast with one of these. Well, maybe you should try some food first. But then, definitely, one of these.

Recipe: A Bitter Cry (adapted from the Red Cat’s Radish King): Shred 3-4 radishes on a box grater (we recommend including some daikon radish or even a little horseradish, but the sharper the better in any case). Macerate in the bottom of a shaker cup with a scant teaspoon sugar. Add ice, 4 ounces gin, 2 ounces Cocchi Americano*****, 2 ounces grapefruit juice, and several dashes lemon bitters. Shake until well chilled, and strain (through sackcloth?) into two glasses with ice. Garnish with thin slices of radish and several springs of cilantro.

*That last one from Junior Kiddush Club. Mostly.

**Never fear; Rabbi Barr Hill-el found us a reinforcement.

***I debated titling this drink in Hebrew, but my transliterations are always so controversial.

****This has been on my grocery list for six months. I don’t remember why.

*****The Golden Scepter is also in this chapter(v. 11), if you’re a wimp who won’t try what I promise is one of our top 5 drinks of all time.

Esther, chapter 3: A Drink for the Perplexed

To Recap: The king is aghast at what feminism may mean for him; our girl Hadassah is using beauty pageants to infiltrate* the other side.

So this dude Haman son of Hamedata {booooooo!} appears from I think basically out of nowhere** and gets a major promotion, which in the normal world would mean we’d found our reason to drink in verse 1. But this is Shushan, where many things are simmering below this surface, and reality-tv hijinks won’t distract us forever.

Our boy Mordekhai (Oh, Koren transliterations) sees something fishy in this whole transfer of power (or simply reserves bowing for the presence of G-d) and immediately damages some ego; since hashtags were centuries away from being invented, no one could launch a #NotAllJews campaign, and Mordekhai’s behavior is used as proof that an entire demographic should be extinguished.

(For the first time, I’m wondering who else was hated in Shushan. Also, note that there already was a wall to keep the likes of Mordekhai out….)

Genocide being the completely unobjectionable and morally unambiguously stance that it is, an executive order grants Haman {booooo!} everything he needs to make Shushan great again. As Monty Python has taught us, it’s surprisingly easy plan for a witch hunt—here’s the day, here’s the intended, BURN THEM!!!!!

As we close this chapter, Haman {boooooo!} and the king sit down to drink*** while the rest of Shushan looks on…depending on your translator…terrified, alarmed, in horror, dumfounded, confused****.

Recipe: Confusion (A real, canon, drink! Or, at any rate, one of a genre of drinks where the “confusion” comes from the assortment of fruit flavors, not unlike the mess of proclamations coming from the head of state.)  Shake together 1 ounces whiskey, 1 ounce Aperol, .75 ounces lemon juice, a generous splash of triple sec, and a drizzle of rhubarb simple syrup with ice. Strain into a glass (with or without rocks); add a dash of bitters, garnish with a citrus twist, and use to fortify yourself against a nation hell-bent on your destruction.

*Kinda cool to see that the Miss Peru competition is reading along.

**How don’t I know anyone working for a startup called Hamedata?

***Or, in some translations, eat. I can’t translate the whole verse, but “to drink” was possibly the first verb Memrise put in front of me, so I’ll confirm that this teetotalling revision is beyond bizarre.

****I accept diverse translation for this one, but boy does the translator’s choice tell a story all on its own.

Esther, Chapter 2: Super Cool Party People

I can’t imagine living in a harem; that’s a whole lot of chicks to have around on a daily basis.* And not just any chicks, either; in this chapter, our girl Esther is surrounded by ladies on 12-month beauty regimes (v.12) –is it just me, or are some of the details in this chapter bizarre?**–which seems like the worst sort of reality show plot ever. Well, I guess this is pretty much the premise of “The Bachelor,” with a little political intrigue and racist evil thrown in for color.

Unlike “The Bachelor,” it’s the sweet, kind, modest, nice little Jewish girl from down the street who takes the crown (v.17). Unlike the star of a reality show, Esther still had some secrets left…like, y’know, who she really was. But like the reality show***, she receives her rose-crown in front of all the other “virgins,” and just like the reality show, controversy immediately ensues (v.22-23), and not just among all the jiltees.

This should have been a virgin drink, I suppose, in honor of the harem and whatnot. But Junior Kiddush Club is off trick-or-treating, so this seems like the ideal time to indulge. Serve this at a coronation feast. Serve this while yet another effing character from a Disney show you’ve never heard of rings the bell. We made the first round while watching Star Trek: Discovery, ostensibly because of the whole Girl Power under Vaguely-Maybe Evil Captain-King connection, but you don’t need an excuse for something this good.

Recipe: Super Cool Party People: We don’t actually know what Vermuelen Advoocat is (I found one website, but I don’t read Dutch), but I immediately identified the flavor as “boozy eggnog.” The Sorority President looked quizzical. “Isn’t eggnog always boozy?” The Frat Man poured a second helping; “Is this really what eggnog tastes like? I’ve never had eggnog.****”

Squeeze (or spoon, if you’re classy) a dollop of fudge sauce into the bottom of an apertif glass. If you’re feeling decadent, add a drizzle of maraschino cherry juice. Pouring over a spoon, first add 1 oz. of Bailey’s, then 1 oz. of Vermuelen Advoocat (our Distinguished Member found it at the kosher Jewel; let us know where you track it down). That’s not a lighting trick in the photo, by the way—you can pour the liquors side-by-side for a subtle stripe effect, which is probably pretty hard to appreciate with the sprinkles dumped in. Top with a cherry, and use the good ones that you hide from the Junior Kiddush Club. Stir a bit before sipping/shooting.

*The Sorority President is on record as saying the same thing but…um…sorority? Remind me to fact-check this.

**Like women’s ointments. For women, or made from women?

***Does The Bachelor have an equivalent of the king’s eunuch, taking care of all the contestants (v.8)? Scratch that, I don’t want to know.

***You would not believe the list of nice Jewish kids I’ve turned on to eggnog. If this task lies before you, I recommend starting with Silk SoyNog, and then building up to the hard stuff.

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Year 3: The Whole Megillahs (Esther, chapter 1)

Year three, and we’re going for the whole megillah*. Whole megillahs? I mean, we’re not planning to branch out beyond chapters 4 and 9 of Esther** so far as the Hebrew reading goes, but we’ll be reading a chapter of a megillah each week*** and tippling our way through it. That means reading Esther in October, which feels awkward but might mean that we actually read all the words correctly come Purim.****

“This is awesome. Vashti is such a badass. I’m Googling ‘Feminist Cocktails’,” announced Nuke, followed a moment later by, “Thank you, Buzzfeed.” But it turns out, surprise surprise, that when men write about feminist cocktails, they just write derivative versions of pedestrian drinks. The ultimate feminist cocktail is, of course, whatever the hell you want, but it’s hard to get good copy out of a recipe like that.

My lazy suggestion of chugging royal wine (1:7) was quickly shot down, since we needed something fit for a gala party. (My suggestion of “The Seven-Seven Eunuchs”(1:10)  was also shot down, and Nuke would like you all to know that you’re welcome.)

“There’s something called a ‘Whiskey Rebellion’” noted Nuke. I studied the recipe carefully. “Hmm, if we replaced the Pimm’s with something girlie….” An examination of the liquor carts produced a peach theme, totally appropriate for a hottie like Vashti*****, with some bitterness at the patriarchy thrown in for good measure.

If you’d like to recreate Ahasuearus’s banquet, remember that “The rule for drinking was, ‘No restrictions’!” (1:8) Husband-despising upon consumption (1:17) is reported to be optional.

Recipe: Vashti’s Rebellion (1:12,16): stir together roughly equal parts bourbon and peach schnapps, mixing in slosh of Krupnik^ if you can find it (you can try a bit of dark honey if you can’t); add a dash of bitters and a few splashes of lemon.  Garnish with peach slices; serve in a gold beaker (1:7) if you can find it, and a slightly awkward Kiddush cup if you can’t.^^

*The internet (and The Cantor) totally claim this is a thing that people say.

**I mean, I’m one and done. Nuke keeps murmuring about reading Kohelet (*nudge to The Cantor*)

***With occasional holiday/event breaks, since we’ll run a few weeks short.

****I mean, before the tippling contest.

*****”Vashti” is reportedly slang for a beautiful woman. It’s also slang for VD, if UrbanDictionary is to be believed.

^Does anyone else love the Anastasia books even more after learning about this liqueur?

^^C’mon, someone, please get the gag….

Simchat Torah: Mist from Heaven and Eden’s Apple Blossom

IMG_20171002_212616 I thought I had things to say, jokes to make, commentary to offer. But a friend summed it up more neatly than I ever could: “Simchat Torah: As some things end, others begin.”

Year 2 ends,  Year 3 begins.

Recipe: Mist From Heaven(Deuteronomy 33:13): shake 2oz rum, 1-2 t sugar, and 1 oz fresh lime juice with ice until sugar is dissolved. Strain into a clear glass; garnish with a twist if desired.

Eden’s Apple Blossom (Genesis): Shake 3oz apple nectar, a dash of rose water, and a drop of vanilla, with ice in the miniature cocktail shaker Auntie Barkeep gave you for Rosh Hashanah if possible.