Katie Loeb, the author of the definitive cocktail recipe book, Shake Stir Pour, and a beverage consultant to many of the region’s best craft cocktail lists, isn’t one to run from a challenge. Even when said challenge is to turn the iconic triumvirate of Purim flavors — apricot, prune and cherry — into mixed drinks worthy of the holiday. She has fashioned the following drink list, which the well-equipped home bartender can assemble for this most festive of Jewish holidays.
Esther Kilt It
This drink is all about the apricot and the smokiness of the Scotch playing off each other. It is adapted from one of Loeb’s creations for the Trestle Inn, a landmark bar located in Philadelphia’s Loft District and renowned for having the best menu of sours in the city.
1 and 1⁄2 oz. blended Scotch
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
3⁄4 oz. apricot puree (I use Perfect Puree of Napa Valley, which is available online. You could also puree canned apricots or peeled fresh apricots boiled in simple syrup.)
1⁄2 oz. simple syrup
Garnish: Orange twist, mist of peaty Islay scotch (from an atomizer)
Add all ingredients to shaker. Shake and strain over fresh ice in a large rocks glass. Garnish with an orange twist and mist with smoky Islay scotch. (A peatier blended scotch like Black Grouse wouldn’t need the extra step.)
Loeb says, “This drink was originally made with an ounce each of sake and plum wine in place of the plum vodka. It won me the Japanese American Society Sake cocktail competition. It could likely be made with regular vodka and Japanese plum wine in equal measure to make this easier for the average person to recreate at home.”
2 oz. Pearl Plum vodka
1⁄2 oz. fresh lemon juice
1⁄2 oz. pineapple juice
1⁄4 oz. St. Germain liqueur
1 tsp. Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
splash cranberry juice
dash lemon or grapefruit bitters
Shake and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon twist.
Homemade Cocktail Cherries
This recipe is from Loeb’s book, Shake Stir Pour.
3 cups water
1 tsp. salt
1 and 1⁄2 lbs. stem on ripe cherries, rinsed and pitted
2 cups sugar
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
15 cherry pits
1⁄2 tsp. lemon zest
1⁄2 cup brandy or cognac
1⁄2 cup cherry liqueur (I use Cherry Heering)
1⁄2 tsp. organic vanilla extract
Bring the water to a boil in a large shallow saucepan. Add salt.
Add the cherries, reduce the heat and blanch for 2 minutes.
Strain out cherries, reserving poaching liquid.
Place cherries in an ice-water bath to stop them from cooking and getting too soft. Strain again and place cherries into a clean, airtight jar.
Measure out two cups of the cherry poaching liquid and return to saucepan. Begin heating over medium heat. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Add spices, cherry pits and lemon zest and bring to a boil. Boil gently for 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and cool for 1 hour.
Add brandy, cherry liqueur and vanilla extract to spiced cherry syrup.
Strain the spiced and spiked syrup over the cherries in the jar.
Let the cherries age for at least 2 weeks before using.
When the cherries are done, they will keep almost indefinitely refrigerated, as long as the liquid in the jar covers them.
Loeb says, “A Manhattan has three basic ingredients: whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters. By elevating the quality of each of those ingredients, and using the best whiskey you can find plus homemade cocktail cherries, the end result is greater than the sum of its parts.”
2 and 1⁄2 oz. bourbon or rye
3⁄4 oz. Carpano Antica vermouth
1 bar spoon of cherry juice from cocktail cherries
2 dashes Angostura bitters
4-5 drops Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel–aged bitters
Garnish: Homemade cocktail cherry
Pour the ingredients into a mixing glass with ice cubes. Stir until well-chilled.
Strain into chilled cocktail/ coupe glass to serve straight up, or over fresh ice in a rocks glass to serve on the rocks.
Garnish with the cocktail cherry.