For the Ashkenazi cocktail, take dill, Martini and one mover and shaker
ONE SUBJECT guaranteed to fill a room at Limmud is that of food and drink. So it was no surprise when the small room booked out for the session on Ashkenazi cocktails was full to bursting.
People squeezed in and sat on the floor to watch Liz Alpern, co-founder of the Gefilteria, an “artisan” food business based in New York, share her passion for old-world Jewish nosh and explain how an Ashkenazi cocktail is made.
“My grandfather was not sitting in the shtetl sipping on a Martini,” she told the guests, all hoping to get a taste of a cocktail at the end.
“We all love cocktails and it is an amazing way to explore Ashkenazi flavours.”
During the session, she invited eager guests to get up and make one of two cocktails: a Sour Dill Martini or the Celery Collins.
She said: “Celery and dill are two very big flavours in our food and they make a great addition to a cocktail if you want something that is a bit savoury and refreshing.
“We are going to make syrups and cocktails flavoured with Ashkenazi- inspired spices and flavours, like caraway, and pair them with liquors they go well with.”
The front row of under-18s looked disappointed as they were refused a chance to chop a pickle to garnish the gin- and vodka-based drinks.
Volunteer Matthew Grob from the United States was given the all-important task of squashing limes for the Celery Collins.
He said: “celery soda is sold in the States and it is really popular drink in Jewish delis, so the Collins tastes a bit like that.
“It is incredibly refreshing with a hint of celery so it has a sweet-andsavoury taste.”
Mr Grob said he loved the idea of “honouring” his roots by trying new things in the kitchen.
Fellow volunteer Rachel Adelstein agreed. “This is one of Limmud’s lighter sessions.
“It is fun. My dad used to drink celery soda a lot and the cocktail tastes like an alcoholic version of that.
“What is really fun is you can do this at home and it is great way to entertain party guests.”
For Ms Alpern, 30, coming to Limmud was a chance to share her passion for Ashkenazi flavours.
She said: “I’m really excited about being here. I’m doing four sessions.
“The idea is to engage people in the food and that is not hard when you are talking to Jews; everyone likes to get involved.”
She said, however, that “Ashkenazi food has a pretty bad reputation; we think of it as bland, brown or extreme flavours of sweet or sour.
“But that is because people are not making it by hand any more.”
Last year, Ms Alpern was listed as one of Forbes’ 30 under-30s to watch in the world of food and drink.
A matter of taste: eager hands and mouths at the ready in Liz Alpern’s session