5 Hanukkah Cocktails to Put the Mazel in your Tov

Hanukkah, oh Hanukkah, come light the menorah,
Let’s have a party, we’ll all dance the hora —

{{ Insert screeching sound of a vinyl record stopping abruptly }}

No, there won’t be much partying or hora-dancing for Hanukkah 2020. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy one of these amazing Hanukkah cocktails. Or two. Or five.

A Bit About Hanukkah

Somewhere around 2,200 years ago, the Jews lived in the Holy Land of Israel, which was ruled by the Persians and the Egyptian Greeks. They allowed the Jews to follow their religious traditions. But then King Antiochus IV came along and forced the Jews to worship Greek Gods. Anyone caught practicing Judaism could be killed.

A group of Jews called the Maccabees revolted and, after a 3-year war, they liberated Jerusalem from the Greeks. The Maccabees wanted to rededicate their temple to God, as the Greeks had been worshipping Zeus there. They lit the temple’s menorah (the Hebrew word for lamp) but they could only find enough oil to keep the menorah lit for one day. Miraculously, the menorah remained lit for 8 days!

Menorah

Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is celebrated for 8 days and Jews traditionally eat fried foods such as potato latkes and jelly doughnuts to commemorate the miracle of the oil.

Now I enjoy a peppermint or eggnog cocktail as much as the next person, but they don’t go very well with brisket and latkes. So I created five Hanukkah-themed cocktails to help celebrate the Festival of Lights. L’chaim!

Menorah Margarita

Menorah Margarita hanukkah cocktail

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This margarita is a bit smoky – like the candles on your menorah. It gets its beautiful blue hue from simple syrup and ice cubes made from butterfly pea flower tea (recipe below).

  • Mix 1 ounce mezcal tequila, 1 ounce blanco tequila, and 1 ounce lime juice in tall glass.
  • Add crushed ice and club soda, leaving about 1-2 inches at the top of the glass.
  • Carefully top with crushed blue ice cubes.
  • Slowly pour 1 ounce of blue simple syrup on top. As the syrup and ice cubes slowly mix with the lime juice, the bottom of the drink will start to turn purple. Once you mix it, it will all turn purple.
  • Mix well before drinking to distribute the flavors.

How to Make Blue Simple Syrup

I made my blue simple syrup with butterfly pea flowers (click to buy some – they are really fun!). Here’s the step-by-step:

  • Steep 1/4 cup dried butterfly pea flowers in a teapot with 4 cups of boiling water.
  • Steep for 10 minutes, then strain out the flowers.
  • Combine 1 cup of the blue tea in a saucepan with 1 cup of sugar. (Keep the rest of the tea to drink and to make ice cubes.)
  • Heat the mixture to a gentle simmer for 5 minutes to fully dissolve the sugar. You want to see steam coming from the surface and a few bubbles. Do not let the water come to a vigorous boil or you’ll start boiling off water, which will affect your water to sugar ratio. 
  • Stir with a whisk several times during the heating process. 
  • Remove from the heat and cool for at least 10 minutes.
  • Pour into a clean, air-tight jar. A mason jar is ideal for your homemade simple syrup. It’s a good idea to sterilize your jar in boiling water before storing your syrup to guard against any bacterial growth.
  • Find more simple syrups recipes in our Ultimate Guide to Simple Syrups!

The remainder of your butterfly pea flower tea can be used to make blue ice cubes or to simply drink as a healthy tea. And if you don’t know about its magic color-changing properties, squeeze some lemon in your tea and watch it turn purple!

Vodka Gimel

Vodka Gimel Hanukkah cocktail

Gimel is the best letter on the dreidel.

Dreidel is a game played on Hanukkah that involves spinning a 4-sided top. At the beginning of each round, every player puts one game piece into the center “pot.” Game pieces can be anything from pennies to poker chips to chocolate Hanukkah coins called “gelt.”

When it’s your turn, you spin the dreidel and the letter it lands on tells you what to do. You might get nothing (nun), you might get half the pot (hey), or you might have to put a piece in (shin). But when the dreidel lands on gimel, you win the whole pot!

A riff on the Vodka Gimlet, I enhanced this cocktail with a bit of blueberry. If you prefer the classic Gimlet, use gin instead of vodka.

  • Combine 2.5 ounces of vodka (or gin), ½ ounce lime juice, and ½ ounce blueberry simple syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice.
  • Shake until frosty, the strain into a coupe glass.
  • Add blueberries for garnish.

Mazel Tov Cocktail

Mazel Tov cocktail

No, not molotov cocktail, but this drink does have some fire in it. And I tried so hard to make it flame. Cinnamon sticks don’t burn, they only smoke. Same with rosemary and thyme. Then I read that you could soak a sugar cube in high-proof alcohol and it would burn. No dice – even when I made a little “pool” of 100 proof bourbon inside the orange peel shell. (If anyone knows how to make a flaming cocktail garnish, please let me know!)

Flame or no flame, this fireball mixed drink pairs wonderfully with the applesauce on your latkes.

The Jelly Donut

Jelly Donut cocktail

Jelly donuts, or sufganiyot, are a traditional Hanukkah treat. And there’s nothing wrong with starting your day with jelly donuts and a cocktail. It’s 2020.

  • Rub a glass rim with lemon juice, then roll it in powdered sugar.
  • Carefully place ice in the glass (I recommend ice spheres made with these molds). Don’t “drop” the ice in the glass – it will make the powdered sugar fly all over and fall off the rim.
  • Pour 2 ounces of vanilla vodka, 3/4 ounce lemon juice, and 3/4 ounce Chambord liqueur in a cocktail shaker with 2-3 ice cubes.
  • Shake until frosty, and strain into your prepared glass.
  • Garnish with lemon peel and raspberries.

The Spinning Dreidel Hanukkah Gelt Cocktail

chocolate gelt cocktail

This sweet concoction goes down easy and makes a lovely dessert cocktail while playing dreidel.

  • Squeeze some chocolate syrup onto a plate and dip a glass in it. Roll it around to get a good amount of chocolate on there and let it drip down inside the glass. For a cleaner look, you can melt some chocolate chips in the microwave and rim the glass in the melted chocolate – this is thicker and the chocolate will harden on the glass rim instead of dripping.
  • In a cocktail shaker, add 1 1/2 ounces each of vanilla vodka, Rumchata, and Godiva chocolate liqueur.
  • Add 3-4 ice cubes and shake for about 30 seconds.
  • Strain into your glass and top with chocolate shavings.

I hope you enjoy these Hanukkah cocktails and have as much fun with them as I did. Happy Hanukkah!

5 Hanukkah cocktails

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