In what will be perhaps the last great moment of comedy this presidential campaign season has given us, Donald Trump surrogate Scottie Nell Hughes of RightAlerts.com criticized Jay Z after the rapper performed in Cleveland on Friday in support of Hillary Clinton.
“One of his main videos starts out with a crowd throwing mazel tov cocktails at the police,” said Hughes, referencing the “Run This Town” video.
Except: The explosive is called a molotov cocktail. “Mazel tov” is a celebratory phrase in Hebrew — something you say when a baby is born, or a happy couple gets married. It’s not the first time a Republican has confused the two terms — when Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was a county executive, he wrote “molotov” as a greeting to a Jewish constituent. So while Jewish people were laughing at Hughes’s malapropism, everyone else began to wonder: What is a mazel tov cocktail, and, more importantly, how can I make one for my election watch party tomorrow?
Actually, there has been a Mazel Tov cocktail on the menu at DGS, a Dupont Circle modern delicatessen, for several years. Partner Brian Zipin invented it when the restaurant first opened.
“That’s a mitzvah,” he said, when informed the phrase “mazel tov cocktail” was going viral.
“This is not what you’re thinking when you’re creating cocktails for restaurants,” Zipin said. “But this has been such an insane campaign, I guess I can’t be surprised at anything anymore.”
His recipe, below, calls for plum gin liqueur, because “Plums are really important in Jewish heritage and culture.” He wanted to use sparkling wine, because “when you say mazel tov, it’s kind of a toast.” The cocktail is “great with passed hors d’oeuvres. It’s great with anything salty.”
Adam Bernbach, beverage director at 2 Birds, 1 Stone, a D.C. cocktail bar, said that if he had to invent a mazel tov cocktail, his first impulse would be to make it nonalcoholic.
“I feel like it’s something you should serve kids at a bar mitzvah. It should be a variation of a Shirley Temple,” he said. But if he had to make an alcoholic one that would be easy for election partygoers to re-create at home, “Doing a sangria with Manischewitz in it is the most obvious thing you can do,” he said.
He recommends taking your favorite sangria recipe and subbing out the red wine for Manischewitz Concord Grape wine. “Manischewitz is real sweet. You have to cut it a bit,” he said, so he recommends adding a very dry sparkling white wine, and slivovitz, a plum brandy that is “fairly common with the eastern European Ashkenazi Jews.” For the fruit in the sangria, he recommends apples, another symbolic ingredient in Judaism.
“I can’t believe this is a thing,” Bernbach added.
Neither can Zipin. “I don’t want to be associated with Donald Trump at all,” he said. The cocktail is on the menu at DGS, where he says it has been a good seller over the years. Through Thursday, the $11 cocktail will be half price.
Here’s Zipin’s recipe, adapted, which was first published in Washingtonian magazine:
Mazel Tov Cocktail
Culinary dried lavender is available at gourmet kitchen stores such as La Cuisine in Alexandria, and through various online gourmet food purveyors.
MAKE AHEAD: The lavender syrup can be refrigerated for up to a month.
For the syrup
1/2 ounce culinary dried lavender (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons; see headnote)
1/2 cup water
6 tablespoons sugar
For the drink
1 ounce Averell Damson plum gin liqueur, or good-quality sloe gin
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
4 ounces chilled champagne or white sparkling wine
For the syrup: Combine the dried lavender and water in a small saucepan; let soak for 5 minutes, then place over medium heat and add the sugar, stirring until dissolved. Cook for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool completely, then strain into an airtight container or glass jar, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Then discard the solids. The yield is about 1/3 cup. You’ll need 1/4 ounce for this recipe; the rest can be refrigerated for up to 1 month.
For the drink: Fill a mixing glass with ice.
Combine the 1/4 ounce of lavender syrup, the gin liqueur or sloe gin and the lemon juice in a mixing glass. Stir briefly, then strain into a champagne flute. Top with the chilled champagne or white sparkling wine.
Tested by Kara Elder; send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
And if you’re looking for other election party eats and drinks, you could make this Trump Towering Inferno cocktail, or the Clinton-themed I Could Have Stayed Home and Made Cocktails, as well as Trump and Clinton cookies.