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.



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.

Shmni Atzeret: Nothing New Under the Sun

I’ve spent the last month explaining holidays to my colleagues. They’re excited about my “hut” (translation of ‘sukkah’) and know that the Torah’s birthday is coming up. But then there’s Shmini Atzeret, and I’ve got nothin’. It’s just another freaking holiday, as ordinary as the faux-orange taste of our workhorse, Blue Curacao. As  Kohelet laments (at least eith Sephardi influences), there is nothing new under the sun*.

Recipe: Nothing New Under the Sun: otherwise known as This American Shot around here, tbe drink Kiddush Club can’t serve often enough. Layer grenadine, pisco, blue curacao, and elderflower liqueur in a shot glass. Drink with an air of burned-out boredom.

*sun? What’s that?IMG_20171002_210208

Sukkot: Fruits of Your Labor*

“What are we harvesting, anyway?” wondered the Nuclear Engineer**. Your Hostess at first ignored this query, too buried in other texts***; Nuke happily paged through the chumashim surrounding her, calling out verses but getting nowhere. “Seriously, what is it?” (Actually, she said another phrase beginning with “What”, but I just repented for a lot of foul speech.)

Your Hostess finally took pity. “You need more than seven species?”

Recipes (Deut.16:13):

Threshing Floor: Combine 3 parts less-sweet barley water (reduce honey by half in Alton Brown’s recipe; also consider using some orange peel) and 2 parts wheat vodka. Pour into a short glass and add a solid dash of lemon bitters and two black olives, tearing those in half as you add. Stir with a spring of rosemary, bruising the olives slightly; garnish with lemon thyme. This drink is best allowed to sit for 5-10 minutes before consuming.

Wine Press: Combine 4 parts merlot, 1 part pomegranate liqueur; muddle in dried figs and dates (try to have at least one fig and 2 dates for every 3 3 oz. servings). Sprinkle with cardamom before serving. We believe this would be excellent mulled, for chilly nights in the sukkah…but it’s 80 degrees here, so please report in from less tropical locales.****

*Exodus 23:16.


***Listen, the feng shui of the Jewish calendar is totally screwed up. Can we please get some design principles in this thing? I’m getting too old for these constant bacchanalias.

****Nope, we’re still in Chicago.