Dress British Think Yiddish alcohol Dress British Drink Yiddish Jewish bar Dress British Drink Yiddish: Mazel Tov Cocktail
Dress British Drink Yiddish: Mazel Tov Cocktail
Published on Monday, November 07, 2016 By Max Sparber
This is not ordinarily a topical blog, but last night Donald Trump surrogate Scottie Nell Hughes claimed that a Jay Z video "starts off with a crowd throwing Mazel Tov cocktails at the police," and this is just too delightful to pass up. This is especially thrilling as a Minnesotan, because we have a member of the North Stars Roller Girls who calls herself Mazel Tov Cocktail, who hails from St. Louis Park, where, as I live and breathe, I am currently sitting and writing this.
So obviously the time of the Mazel Tov cocktail is upon us, and what would it be?
Firstly, perhaps it need not be stated, but what Hughes meant to say was Molotov cocktail, the improvised explosive device named after Vyacheslav Molotov. He was, if you don't know, the Russian diplomat behind the behind the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact that guaranteed no Soviet aggression against the Nazis that lasted all of two years, until the Nazis decided to get aggressive against the Soviet Union by attacking Russia.
Molotov started producing propaganda in support of the pact that was widely mocked, especially by Finns, who suffered bombings under the Nazis that Molotov insisted were food runs. So the Finns started calling Nazi bombs "Molotov bread baskets," and when the Finns started throwing bottles filled with petrol at the Nazis, these were, of course, called Molotov cocktails, because why ruin a lovely food metaphor?
There is a bit of Jewish history hidden here, as Molotov replaced Maxim Litvinov as diplomat, and Litvinov was Jewish. Litvinov was replaced, in part, because the Germans refused to have anything to do with him, calling him "Finkelstein-Litvinov." Stalin then ordered Molotov to purge the ministry of Jews. There are longstanding rumors that Litvinov was later murdered by Stalin in a faked auto accident, although Litvinov's widow denied this; nonetheless, his dismissal marked the start of a growing official antisemitism under Stalin.
Even putting that aside, Molotov's pact with the Nazis kept Russia out of the war for two years, until 1941. So, for many reasons, Jews have plenty of cause for mocking Molotov.
But what should the cocktail be? There already is an actual cocktail called the Molotov, but there is nothing to it: It is vodka with high-proof rum floated on top, and the rum is then set on fire. I think we can do better. For one thing, I think the drink must be served in a bottle to preserve the iconic look of the improvised bomb. I would suggest a Mexican Coke bottle or the like, as wine or whiskey bottles will simply be too large for a single cocktail.
I don't mind the suggestion of starting with vodka, and, as this is a Jewish drink, I would suggest starting with rye vodka, which was the sort Jews were associated with manufacturing in Eastern Europe. I strongly think the drink should preserve some of the flavors of Finland, since they named the thing, and the Finns have something called Lonkero, made by mixing gin with grapefruit soda, so we're going to add in some Fresca.
Of course, all we have now is soda and vodka, and a proper cocktail must have three ingredients or it is, as Peggy Olson says, an emergency and not a drink. This would be the moment when we can really make the drink Jewish, as we should. As it turns out, there is a bit of a hidden tradition in grapefruit cocktails of using cherry as a flavoring -- the sweetheart martini, as an example, combines both. So we're going to put some Cherry Heering in, which will make it a drink your bubbe might have loved, assuming she also loved setting fire to things. I suggest not blending the drink, because then we have the thrill of watching the Heering spread through the vodka like blood through water.
Finally, the drink needs a wick, and, believe it or not, people make wicks to put into bottles (here's an example). I haven't tested this, but the alcohol in the cocktail should be a high enough proof to feed the wick's flame. It is low enough, however, not to be incendiary should the flame touch the drink itself. So just stuff some of these wicks into your bottle and pass them around, still burning. When people are ready to drink, they need merely snuff the wick and down the drink with a hearty "Mazel Tov!"
It's everything I like in a cocktail. It's a novelty, a history lesson, a floor show, and a bottle of booze all in one.
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