Nisan is the barley month (Exodus 9:31).
Look, I know the drink for Nisan ought to be something you can serve at the seder, or something that gets you through preparing for the seder*, but I feel like we’ve nailed drinking at Pesach around these parts. And anyway, half of Nisan is about cleaning out your pantry, finding ways to use up and drink up and do gd-knows-what with the randomest things.
I mean, really this is fancy lemonade, but I always make fancy lemonade for the seder, with simmering water from the lemons in Ottolenghi’s salad. (In Philadelphia we use maple syrup as a sweetener, because there’s always a lot of it, but here in Chicago vacation honey will do.) If you don’t see Nisan as a reason for drinking up your whiskey and using the last bits of the liqueurs…well, you’re reading the wrong blog. And, ultimately, this drink has the first hints of spring, just like Nisan does. Sometimes, when it doesn’t snow on the seder.
If you’ve made it to barley month***, you have a chance of making it out of Egypt. You’re probably living on fumes, barely able to see beyond the walls of water guiding you somewhere else. I don’t know where that is, either, but I’ve got to hope it’s better. Actual, literal, plague, y’all. It’s time to start thinking about liberation, or at least libation.
Recipe: Barley There: Chill a recipe of barley water made with crystalized ginger. Shake 4-6 ounces of barley water with ice, 1.5 oz wheat whiskey, 0.5 oz jasmine liqueur (or other floral liqueur) and strain into a froufrou tall-ish glass of your choosing. Add 3-5 drops floral bitters and a splash of citrus; garnish with a lemon wheel.
*Y’all, there’s Shabbat and then the Seder. HOW DOES THAT EVEN WORK? Not that I’ll be finding out, since my unvaccinated self can’t get on a plane to Philadelphia. And…that’s out of scope for this blog, isn’t it.
**Don’t discard the barley, though. It’s also quite delicious, especially when you add a bit of chopped crystalized ginger to the simmer.
***I can’t decide if this is tacky. Raise a glass to all our beloved who didn’t make it to Nisan this year, and to those who might not make it out.