Purim is one of the few days in the year when Jews are not only allowed to let loose and enjoy the revelry of the day, but are actually commanded to. Our tradition teaches that it’s a mitzvah to find the joy in the absurd and to twist the twisted until it’s no longer recognizable as its original form.
We turn sad things into happy and happy things into, well, even happier things. And with the way this year has started, it’s even more important for us to be able to find joy in even the most challenging of moments.
The Purim story reminds us that even in our darkest, most terrifying moments, we can find the strength and resolve to take on the most daunting of challenges. In the story, Queen Esther gathers her strength and acts deliberately. She plots and schemes until the moment is right, and, because of her bravery, she saves our people from destruction.
In honor of Esther’s bravery and the idea that what was originally meant to be a day of destruction turned into a day of celebration, here are three cocktails to help you turn your world upside down and guarantee a night of merriment.
When celebrating with a crowd, there are few options better than a punch. It’s incredibly easy to prepare in advance and requires almost no real work. If you can peel lemons, you’re halfway there.
¾ cup sugar
1 750-milliliter bottle of gin
½ cup orange liqueur
1 liter seltzer/soda water
Peel the lemons, place the peels into a tall plastic container and pour the sugar on top. Cover the peels and let them sit for at least an hour at room temperature. The sugar will pull the oil out of the lemon peels and create what’s called an oleo-saccharum (literally, oil-sugar). It should look like damp or clumpy sugar when it’s ready.
Pour the orange liqueur and gin over the oleo-saccharum and mix very well. It will take a bit of strong stirring to melt all the sugar. You can fish out the lemon peels at this point. Juice the peeled lemons and add the juice to the mixture. Add the bottle of soda water and mix well.
Serve over ice and garnish with lemon wheels in the punch bowl/pitcher or a lemon wedge on each glass.
Blood Orange Tequila Old-Fashioned
One of the best traditions of Purim is dressing up in costumes and wearing masks, and this drink is getting in on the game. To the average observer, it will look like any other old-fashioned, but to those who take a sip, it’s simply a cocktail in costume. This drink takes its cues from the classic old-fashioned but, just as Jews are called to do on Purim, flips it right on its head.
Splash of agave nectar
Squeeze of blood orange juice
2 dashes bitters
3 ounces good tequila
In the bottom of an empty rocks glass, add a splash of agave nectar, a squeeze of a blood orange wedge (about a teaspoon’s worth, not too much) and two dashes of Angostura bitters. Mix well.
If you want to stay more traditional, you can easily use a sugar cube or a spoonful of sugar instead of the agave.
Add the tequila and stir well. Add ice until you’re happy and garnish with a slice of blood orange peel. If you want to get fancy, squeeze the orange peel over the drink and wipe the rim with it for even more flavor.
There’s no rule that Purim cocktails can’t be fancy and elegant, and the classic champagne cocktail proves it. This recipe has been around almost as long as people have been drinking champagne, and it will work with any sparkling wine. Just be careful: The sweeter your wine, the less sugar you’ll need in the recipe.
1 ounce brandy
4 ounces champagne
Drop the sugar cube (or a spoonful of sugar) into the bottom of a champagne flute or coupe and saturate it with bitters. That mixture can sit as long as you need, so it’s easy to prepare many glasses in one batch. When you’re ready to serve, add the brandy and fill the rest of the glass with cold champagne.
The sugar will add a whole new level of bubbles to the drink, so there’s no need for any other garnish. Feel free to experiment with different types of spirits. Change the brandy out for gin, whiskey or even rum.