When I was young, Purim engendered a modest amount of excitement at the thought of eating hamantaschen. But hamantaschen were as nothing compared with the kreplach soup we had for lunch. The dish marked the beginning of my lifelong love affair with dumplings.
The festivities were marked by a little more drinking than usual, the menfolk preferring schnapps to wine. Never convinced by the idea of whisky at lunchtime, or with any meal, for that matter, I’d rather make the most of vodka. Small sips from ice-cold glasses of the best stuff – that’s a good accompaniment for the Ashkenazi food I grew up on.
In more festive form, a vodka cocktail of distinction might be preferable to some. You can get kosher ingredients for most cocktails nowadays, and kosher vodka is both easy to find and of very high quality. Check out Kosher Wines UK (www.kosherwineuk.com) for a generous selection. Of the more expensive bottles, I am particularly enamoured of English-grown-and-distilled Chase. For value for money, no vodka on earth can beat Russian Standard.
The indisputable vodka classic is, of course, the bloody Mary. I have a perfect recipe for it, which can serve as a starting point for your own experiments.
Richard Ehrlich’s patented bloody Mary
to make four drinks:
25ml lemon juice
2.5ml freshly ground black pepper
30ml Worcester sauce
6 drops (around .5ml) Tabasco sauce
450ml tomato juice
Put the seasonings in a measuring jug and whisk thoroughly. Add the tomato juice and vodka. Whisk again, pour over ice cubes in tall glasses, and garnish – if you wish – with a piece of celery made by quarter-ing the stalk lengthwise. Drink it slowly, if possible.
Of much more recent vintage than the bloody Mary but a true classic (despite its association with a certain American TV programme that you wouldn’t want your children to watch) is the cosmopolitan. This is not a “lady’s drink”. It is a good drink, and very easy to make.
To make two of them, fill a cocktail shaker with crushed ice and add 75ml vodka, 25ml Coin-treau, 20ml cran-berry juice, and 15ml lime juice.
Shake till your arms ache. Strain into martini glasses and garnish with orange peel.
A joyful aperitif before the Purim feast. And it probably tastes pretty good with hamantaschen too.