Intrigue. Concealment. Power. The story of Purim is no childish fairytale. This is one Jewish holiday all grown up with nowhere to go. How about your place? Whether a mischievous masquerade or a naughty knights-and-ladies affair, host an adults-only Purim party and let the fun—and drinks—flow.
Even the Rabbis of the Talmud are serious about booze this time of year. On Purim, adults are obligated to imbibe until they can’t tell the difference between Mordechai and Haman, hero and villain. Are you planning to argue with your Rabbi over this one? Save your aggression for a good fight over the perfect mixed drink to delight your company.
The story of Purim is set in Shushan, located in Persia, or modern-day Iran. The ancient Persians loved their wine. King Ahasuerus likely consumed well beyond the legal limit when he asked his wife Vashti to dance naked for him and his guests. Big party foul. Heed to moderation, keep your clothes on and offer up some classy cocktails instead.
Purim’s heroine Esther was a sweet and spicy lass. After Vashti got the ax, Esther became the beloved new wife of the King, but soon risked her freshly exalted position to save her people from near certain destruction. Nothing says sweet and spicy in Persia like chai. The tea blend is ubiquitous in today’s Irani cafes under the acquisitive name, Chai Irooni. Add the tea to some cream and vodka and you’ve got a chai-tini so delicious it’s worth risking your crown over. (See recipe for Esther’s Elixir)
Of course, no toddy tour of ancient Persia would be complete without the pomegranate, cultivated here since ancient times. The aril juice from the ruby red coating of each pomegranate seed can be sweet or sour, a bright and refreshing foundation for our second cocktail. And it also hints at a central theme of our holiday. The word Purim means “lots,” as when the villain Haman cast lots to choose the date upon which he would order the killing of the Jewish minority in the empire. We recognize on Purim, as well as on the similarly named Yom Kippur, that in much of life we surrender to forces beyond our control and comprehension. This sweet and sour fruit reminds us of the hope and fear of every day. But no need to despair. Add in some vodka and rosewater, and I doubt you’ll even remember what you were so worried about. (See recipe for Haman’s Hangover)
Now for a nosh! The iconic dish of Purim is the hamantashen, a filled dessert pastry shaped into a triangle in remembrance of Haman’s three-cornered hat. We went sweet on the tipple. Let’s go savory for the nibble. Puff pastry dough is the happy receptacle of a variety of delicious fillings. Better yet, it’s easy to form into a triangle. We’ll fill ours with caramelized onions, pear, goat cheese and walnuts. Evil never tasted so good! (See recipe for Savory Hamantashen)