January 16, 2019

Dating 101: Lies & Shorts

I had an interesting dating weekend. By interesting of course I mean I am one step closer to another cat. My dating life is tragic. Tragic and hilarious. While I’d like to think it is because I simply date the wrong men for me, I cannot help but wonder if it is fact me. How is it possible for one woman to have such bad luck when dating? What am I putting out into the world to attract these men? The bottom line is dating sucks and it’s not me.

I met a man online last week. We emailed one time and exchanged phone numbers.  We made plans to meet for drinks and dinner on Saturday night. I really liked him. He was a beautiful writer, had gorgeous blue eyes, and a lot of stories. I like people who have stories and experiences. As I prepared for the date I was not only NOT nervous, I was actually excited to spend time with him, which is unusual. I usually feel quite sick before going on a date.

I walked into the bar and as soon as I say him my heart sank a bit. I shook it off because I’ve learned that at this stage of life people are often dishonest about basic things in order to appear more attractive. It is silly and stupid because it makes them liars right from the start. I suppose they’re simply trying, so there must be kindness. He said he was 5’11”, but was 5’8”. He said he was 58, but was clearly in his mid 60’s. He also said he never lies. Okay. He was drowning in half truths.

When we spoke on the phone he told me about his work, but in person his story kept changing. He went from having sold a script, to trying to sell it. He went from having met a celebrity, to having actually met the celebrity’s son. He was trying to keep it together, but lost his grasp of what he was saying and it unraveled. The lies were piling up and he quickly became pathetic. What he said on the phone was not at all grounded in truth. It was almost funny.

I hope people lie from a place of loneliness not a desire to deceive, but that hope can occasionally be hard to hold onto. Not only did he lie, but he lied about things that would be obvious the moment we met, which makes him not only a liar, but stupid. It is disrespectful to me, to himself, and at the end of the day a waste of time, and getting ready for a date takes time! I won’t be seeing him again. Hopefully he found his way home as he forgets things.

The second man was equally disappointing more. We were recently matched with on a dating app and he looked really familiar. I felt like I knew him, but didn’t know from where. I didn’t want to respond to him until I remembered who he was, then it came to me. He had reached out to me a couple of years ago. We spoke 2 or 3 times and made plans to meet for a drink. He had 2 young kids so his time was limited and the date was set for a week later.

Before I had even starting talking to this man, I had made a plan to meet another man for drinks. I was getting ready for that date when he happened to call. I let him know I was meeting up for a drink and would call him on my way home. He wanted to know who I was meeting. I mentioned it was a fix up. Not to rub in I was seeing someone else, but because it was the truth. I did not know this man, and it didn’t seem like a big deal, so I was honest.

He became very offended I would go out with someone else. He said I was disrespectful and abruptly hung up on me. I never heard from him again. Important to note I texted him to explain the date had been set up before we started talking, but he never responded. Cut to him reaching out again this week, and my reminding him about what happened when we last spoke. He said he didn’t remember hanging up on me and apologized. I don’t think so.

When we spoke on the phone he eventually admitted to “vaguely” remembering me and his hanging up. We chatted a couple of times and he was lovely. He said he was going through a lot in his life then, and perhaps it was as simple as our timing being off. He suggested everything happens for a reason and we were not meant to be then, but found ourselves connecting now, because now was the time. It was sweet and romantic and I appreciated the effort.

Here’s the thing though, when somebody shows you who they are, believe them the first time. We chatted and texted for a few days and decided we’d meet for a drink and see if there was a connection. In one of our text chats, while talking about our upcoming first date, we somehow got onto the topic of gym shorts. He was buying a new pair, and said he would wear them when we met. I joked that he might want to rethink shorts on a first date. It was funny.

He then got upset and texted something about being a New Yorker, he is who he is, I need to accept him, and gym shorts on a first date is totally cool. That was on Saturday, we had plans on Sunday, but I never heard back from him. Not a word. It makes me laugh. From where I’m sitting the man has issues, and unless we are going to the gym, or a hike on a first date, don’t wear gym shorts. It is just not proper first date over cocktails dress. Ever.

Important to note that I live in the valley and it is freaking hot, so of course shorts are fine. That said, there are nice shorts and there are gym sorts. It is gym shorts that I take issue with, before someone writes that I am uptight and judging. I am going to Canada for the weekend. Thrilling to be home with my family, and thrilling to not have a date. Dating is hard. It is also fun, exciting, and exhausting, so when dating one must focus on keeping the faith.

Musical Tables & Ladies Night

Last night I went to meet some ladies for dinner and drinks at Craig’s in Los Angeles. My friend Siggy Flicker is in LA from New Jersey and she always gets her LA pals together. They are lovely, accomplished, women and I enjoy spending time with them. It feels good to be in the company of smart women in a social setting. We laugh, catch up, and are supportive of each other.

I walked in ready for a Cosmo with the girls. I told the man at the front desk I was there to meet Siggy and was told she had arrived and was seated. I followed him to the dining room and saw a table with 5 women and an empty seat. One lady was looking away from me, but had long brown hair, so I assumed it was Siggy and plopped my myself down while saying hello to the group and looking for a waiter to get me a drink. (It is getting harder to find a good Cosmo in LA now that I’ve mastered the perfect one at home!)

It took about half a second to realize I had sat down at the wrong table. The women were lovely and told me to make myself comfortable. They thought it was funny I had made the mistake, and since I was already there, I decided to hang out for a minute and say hello. I explained I was meeting my friend Siggy and one of the women said she knew Sig. To my surprise, she then said she knew me too.

As we went around the table introducing ourselves, we figured out where we knew each other. Several years ago I was without plans for Thanksgiving. My friend Michael invited me to go with him to a friend’s house. I didn’t want to crash a party of people I didn’t know, but ended up joining him and having a wonderful time. The woman across from me, was the woman who hosted Thanksgiving!

I had not seen her for a few years, but she remembered me, which was lovely. She knew Michael was bringing me, knew I was a vegetarian, and had made sure there were things for me to eat. She welcomed me into her home like I was family, in the same way she welcomed me to her table at Craig’s. Lisa Gastineau you are a doll and it was great to see you again. Thank you for once again sharing your table.

I visited with Lisa and her friends, who were great, and as I was chatting to the fabulous actress Lisa Ann Walter, Siggy noticed me from her table, and came over asking what the hell was going on. I hugged my friend and told her I sat down at the wrong table and was visiting. Lisa got up to greet Siggy and it was all quite funny. We had a reunion and made introductions all around.

After about 20 minutes with Lisa and her friends, I joined Siggy and her pals at their table. Surrounded by some NBA players, Dame Joan Collins, and an actor I see in everything but never know his name, our group of 8 had a fantastic time. Craig’s has great food, terrific service, and a very good Cosmo. It is always a fun place to go, but even better when you are able to play musical tables.

Siggy is my Israeli soul sister and I love her. I’ll see her again tonight for dinner and will try to not sit at the wrong table, unless it is a table of gorgeous men. Important to note if I did sit at a table of attractive men, I can assure you it wouldn’t be by accident. I had a date this week that might take me a couple days to come to terms with. My dating life has always been entertaining, but last weekend it became unbelievable. Bloggable, but unbelievable.

I am back in a writing mood and excited to get back on track to share my life and opinions. There is a lot to talk about. I will catch you all up on my perfect Cosmo recipe, my dates, my son, my growing disgust with the President, and my plans to return to Israel for the first time in 30 years. Life is good, I am blessed, blogs are coming, and I am keeping the faith.

Cocktails and Motherhood

When my son turned 21 we went out for a drink. It was strange to have a cocktail with him and it didn’t feel as cool as I thought it would. I watched him drink a beer and all I could see was a baby drinking. It actually made me a little sad. When you have a drink with your kid you are forced to see them as a grown up, which is bittersweet. It was uncomfortable to drink with him, but at the same time I was proud my delicious baby was now a remarkable man. I am blessed to be this human’s mother and I thank God for every single moment we have together, but drinking with him was a hard pill to swallow.

I turned 52 last week and went to San Francisco for the weekend with my son. We walked, ate great food, and had a few drinks. I love a cocktail, as my readers know, and since it was my birthday, I enjoyed several libations. I started with a drink at the airport and ended with a drink at the airport. My son drank too, but it was different this time. He was still my baby, but also my friend, and it was lovely. He isn’t a big drinker, but enjoys big boy drinks. His cocktails of choice are a Negroni or a Whiskey Sour. I think they taste like cough medicine.

We sat in great bars and talked about life, love, politics, and plans. We laughed and debated, and were also happily quiet together. I love him very much and he is simply my favorite human being. He makes me happy. He makes me think. He makes me grateful. He makes me want to be better. He makes me feel better. He heals me. He eases my sorrow. He is my sunshine. He is my closest confidant. I trust him. Being a mom is hard. Being a single mom is really hard. Having a 22-year-old son allows me to celebrate not only my child, but also myself.

I have spent over twenty-two years being his mother and he is a wonderful human being both because of me, and in spite of me. I have had moments of real greatness as a mother, along with moments of epic failure, but all of them led to now, and now is good. My son is terrific and he loves me. He enjoys my company, asks me for advice, heeds my advice, and makes good choices. I won’t make a habit of having cocktails with my boy, but when it does happen I will embrace the moment. We worked hard to get here and having a cocktail with my son is all about keeping the faith.



Happy Shabbat Birthday to Me

I am turning 52 this weekend. While not one to make a big deal about my birthday, this one feels important. It has been an interesting few years. By interesting, of course I mean difficult and enlightening. I dealt with cancer, neck surgery, my son moving out, changing jobs after a decade, and a very close friend of mine passing away after a valiant fight. It was all rather exhausting and to add insult to injury, as each challenge was tackled and overcome, another challenge was placed in front of me. I am a tough girl, but even I was brought to my knees on more than one occasion.

April 7th, 2018 will mark a new beginning, and it has been a long time coming. As I begin my 52nd year, there is nothing looming over me. I am completely healthy for the first time in three years. I am embracing my empty nest in ways I never thought I would. I have learned the important lesson of never coloring my own hair or cutting my own bangs, instead leaving it to the professionals. I have mastered the art of making the perfect Cosmopolitan. I am aware of my own worth. Most importantly, I know I am a wonderful human being,  terrific mother, and getting better with age.

My life is blessed and I have nothing to complain about. How awesome is that? I am going to go to services tonight and pray with my rabbi because she brings me real joy. Tomorrow I will celebrate my birthday in San Francisco with my son. We will explore a city that matters to us, have an amazing dinner, do some birthday shopping, and have dim sum lunch in Chinatown. A 24-hour getaway with my favorite human. I will walk in the rain, and pause long enough to count my blessings between the martinis I’ll be enjoying. Shabbat Shalom and Happy Birthday to all who celebrate this weekend. Be safe and have fun. I will enjoy the weekend while keeping the faith.

Writing Out Loud

I’m not one to make resolutions because they set us up for disappointment. Rather than put all my eggs in one basket on January 1st, I simply try to do my best each day. I say a prayer, cross my fingers, and try to be brave enough to take leaps of faith. It is easier said than done of course, but as long as I try I am proud of myself. It doesn’t matter if I accomplish everything I set out to, but it does matter that I put myself out there.

The past year was full of challenges and blessings for me. I have no complaints because everything led me to blessings. I am thankful for the life I have and grateful to have this platform to share myself with all of you. I have discovered over the many years I have been writing for the Jewish Journal that my life is better when my readers relate to my words and share theirs in return. We are all in this together and I value your input.

In 2018 I will write about my always entertaining yet pathetic dating life, my lack of a sex life, my empty nest, my weight, my fascination with the train wreck that is Leann Rimes, my faith, my religion, (faith and religion are not the same thing), becoming a vegan, my son, my cat, my hopes, my fears, my cancer, and everything else that comes along because there is nothing I won’t share with an open heart and a shot of tequila.

I am going to write more often, and not only about what is going on in my life, but what is going on in the world. There is a lot to say and while I have always been open and honest, I’m going to take things to a whole new level and really blog out loud with no fear and no filters. I am excited about a lot of things and sharing them with you is a blessing that continues to inspire me to keep the faith.



8 Kosher Cocktails to Get You Through Hanukkah

Hanukkah is one of the most important Jewish holidays that reminiscences the greatest miracle in Jewish history – a won battle for freedom, in means of practicing religion with respect to heritage and tradition. If you too respect the beautiful Jewish festival of lights but are also a sip-lover, you know all the tasty cocktails you plan on trying out have to be kosher. Wondering what types of cocktails are kosher and how to properly make them? Keep reading.

1. Manischewitz Sangria


Manischewitz kosher wines are well known for being very sweet so making a sangria seems like a logical thing to do. The best thing about it? You can adjust the recipe according to your preferences without the risk of ending up with a poor mix. Sweet tooths will love the refreshing taste of the sangria made the following way: 3 oz of wine, 2 oz of orange juice, 2 oz of lime, 1 oz of seltzer water, around 1.5 oz of brandy. The measures are for one serving. Poor them over a punch bowl filled with cut apples, oranges, grapes, and limes.

2. Moscow Mule


Moscow Mule is a very popular vodka-based kosher cocktail. In addition to vodka, you’ll be needing a ginger beer, lime juice, and a few wedges of lime. Traditionally, this cocktail is always served in a copper mug. For those who love smooth, cold drinks: fill the mug with ice afore adding other ingredients.

3. Mazel Tov Cocktail


Given the fact blue and silver are traditional colors of Hanukkah, Mazel Tov cocktail is a perfect choice. Blue Curaçao gives this drink a blue hue. The preparation is rather simple: use a tall glass and fill it with crushed ice. Add 4 oz of Blue Curaçao, 2 oz of vodka, 6 oz of ginger ale, and 1 oz of lime juice. Use lime peel as garnishment.

4. Kosher Cosmo


Cosmopolitan is a globally recognized drink and you can give it a slightly different twist to make it kosher. Use a bit more than 1 oz of kosher vodka, a bit less than 1 oz of kosher triple sec (e.g. Leroux), 0.3 oz of lime juice and 0.25 of freshly squeezed orange juice (remove the seeds). Fill the cocktail shaker with ice, place all the ingredients inside, and shake until all the ingredients are mixed and well chilled.

5. Menorah Martini


Menorah martini is one of the fun cocktails that celebrate the lighting of the menorah and soothes your senses nicely. You can use 0.5 oz of blackberry or blueberry cider, or some any type of sweet vermouth you like. Add 3 oz of vodka and a drop or two of Blue Curaçao to give it a nice color and aroma. For a perfect sip, add sugar to the edge of the glass and let them chill before pouring.

6. Gelt Martini


Another kosher martini has a traditional Jewish story attached to it. Namely, gelt is the chocolate coins wrapped in golden foil given to children for Hanukkah. To make this cocktail, mix ice, vodka (2 oz), and Goldschlager (1 oz) in a shaker, and strain into a previously chilled glass. Yummy!

7. Dreidel Cocktail


Dreidel cocktail is tasty, but also strong. For this 2-min-preparation drink, you will be needing small wine glasses, plum brandy (2 oz), apple juice (0.5 oz), lemon juice (0.5 oz), cherry liqueur (0.5 oz), egg whites (0.5 oz) kosher bitters (1 oz), and of course – ice. Shake very hard for about half a minute and then strain into glasses. Optionally, you can add chocolate liqueur to sweeten the taste.

8. Chocolate + Egg Cream Shot


Last, but not least – a different kind of drink to end the Hanukkah: chocolate and egg cream shot. This is not your typical sipping cocktail, but a shot served in a small glass. You’ll be needing 0.5 oz of cold cream, 0.05 oz of seltzer, and 0.25 oz of chocolate syrup or liquor. Pour the cream into the glass. Add seltzer, gently steer, then add chocolate in the center of the glass without mixing the ingredients. This sweet drink will complement other kosher desserts perfectly. Looks and tastes delicious!

Spend the Hanukkah enjoying warm times with your close ones, savor great kosher food and these delicious cocktails. What more can we say than “L’Chaim”!

Tasty tequila cocktails to try

Salt, shoot, suck. Then grit your teeth and shake your head to clear out the fire burning in your throat. This tequila ritual is familiar to many college students, but if you haven't sipped the agave-based spirit since you were younger, it's time for a refresher course.

The liquor is experiencing a renaissance, and producers are crafting single-estate and vintage dated tequilas. These artisanal tequilas have little in common with the processed stuff that stung your throat back in the day.

By Mexican law tequila, which is made by distilling the fermented juices of the blue agave plant, must be 51 percent agave. But that means the other 49 percent can be artificial ickiness. “Called mixto, the cheap stuff contains lots of added sugar and even caramel coloring, which mass producers use in an effort to reproduce the complex flavors in aged tequila,” says Ted Gibson, a bartender who heads up the new All Agave Project tequila tasting program at Rancho Valencia in California.

Not all tequila is alike

Any bottle worth drinking bears the label 100 percent agave. “Quality tequila is an unprocessed natural spirit with depth of flavor,” Gibson says. The best producers focus on terroir, just like with fine wines. A particular tequila's flavor depends on the growing conditions, altitude and sunlight.

“Typically, an agave plant grown in the highlands (above 6,000 feet) is bigger and contains more stored sugar, and its tequila tends to have a floral essence,” Gibson says. “Tequila from plants grown in the lowlands are often more vegetal and spicy.”

Now, we could just take Gibson's word for it that tequila is a versatile spirit that you should be mixing into more than margaritas. But where's the fun in that? Find out for yourself with these inventive recipes that he created. It's a lineup of cocktails that you can serve at a slew of occasions — the perfect sip for a barbecue, brunch, a twist on an Old Fashioned that's just right for an after-dinner delicacy and more. Move over, margarita — the tequila game just got a whole lot more interesting. Get ready for 10 surprising new ways to enjoy this spirit. Salud!

Gallagher's Smash

When we think of fruit and tequila, lemons and limes come to mind. But there are many other varieties that pair perfectly with the spirit.

Yield: one drink


  • 2 ounces blanco tequila
  • 1 ounce lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • 5 cubes watermelon
  • 3 sage leaves



Combine ingredients in mixing glass; muddle. Add ice, then shake. Double strain over fresh ice and garnish with a watermelon cube and a sage leaf.

Raspberry Beret

Gibson's Raspberry Beret is a cinch for a party. The recipe below serves one, but it's easy to turn it into a big batch. Just make the raspberry-mint lemonade in advance (purée lemonade, raspberries and mint leaves, then strain), and add the booze once it's party time.

Yield: 1 drink


  • 2 ounces blanco tequila
  • 3 ounces lemonade
  • 4 raspberries
  • 5 to 6 mint leaves



Combine ingredients in mixing glass; gently muddle. Add ice, then shake. Double strain over fresh ice. Garnish with a raspberry and a sprig of fresh mint.

Juan-y Appleseed

“Herbs go well with blanco tequila, due to the spirit's vegetal and floral flavors,” Gibson says. This recipe calls for licorice-scented tarragon, but mint, thyme, sage and cilantro all complement tequila.

Yield: 1 drink


  • 1 1/2 ounces blanco tequila
  • 3/4 ounce St. Germain
  • 1 ounce granny smith apple juice
  • 3/4 ounce lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce agave syrup
  • 1 sprig tarragon



Combine ingredients in mixing glass; gently muddle. Add ice, then shake. Double strain over fresh ice and garnish with an apple slice and a sprig of tarragon.

El Jardin

The Pimm's Cup, a classic gin-based English cocktail, is Pimm's No. 1, cucumber and lemonade, lemon-lime soda or ginger ale. Mix things up by swapping the gin for tequila for a clean, refreshing beverage.

Yield: 1 drink


  • 1 1/2 ounces blanco tequila
  • 3/4 ounce Pimm's No. 1
  • 2 ounces lemonade
  • 3 dashes Bitter Truth Celery Bitters
  • 3 slices cucumber
  • 3 basil leaves



Combine ingredients in mixing glass; gently muddle. Add ice, then shake. Double strain over fresh ice and garnish with a cucumber ribbon and a basil leaf.

La Piñata

“It's simple to make your own pepper-infused tequila,” says Gibson, who admits that La Piñata is his favorite of the tequila creations he makes, because the cilantro and the heat are a match made in mixology heaven. Just slice one serrano in half lengthwise and drop it into a bottle of tequila. Let it sit for 24 hours, then taste.

Yield: 1 drink


  • 2 ounces serrano-infused blanco tequila
  • 1 ounce fresh pineapple juice
  • 3/4 ounce lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce agave syrup
  • 2 pineapple leaves
  • 1 lime wheel
  • 3 sprigs cilantro, leaves torn



Shake ingredients in mixing glass with ice. Double strain over fresh ice and garnish with pineapple leaves, a lime wheel and cilantro.

La Siesta

A Paloma is a beloved cocktail made with tequila and grapefruit juice. Give it a modern twist by charring the grapefruit before you juice it so it caramelizes slightly (simply halve the grapefruit and toss it onto a hot grill until you see grill marks). For a garnish, a charred grapefruit slice adds visual interest and even more smoky flavor.

Yield: 1 drink


  • 2 ounces reposado tequila
  • 2 ounces charred grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce cinnamon simple syrup
  • 1 charred grapefruit segment
  • 2 cinnamon sticks



Shake ingredients in mixing glass with ice. Double strain over fresh ice and garnish with charred grapefruit segment and cinnamon sticks.

The Palomino

Vanilla plays well with reposado tequila, bringing out its rich barrel-aged flavor.

For this recipe, it's simple to make your own vanilla bean syrup. Simply combine 1 cup each of sugar and water in a small saucepan, along with a vanilla bean (slice it down the middle and scrape the black seeds into the liquid mixture, along with the pod). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved. If you don't feel like making your own syrup, substitute Licor 43, a Spanish liquor with hints of vanilla and citrus, for the syrup and lime juice called for in the recipe.

Yield: 1 drink


  • 2 ounces reposado tequila
  • 1 ounce lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce vanilla bean syrup
  • 1/2 ounce ginger juice
  • 1 lime wheel
  • 1 candied ginger



Shake ingredients in mixing glass with ice. Strain over fresh ice and garnish with a lime wheel and candied ginger.

Loosen the Reins

This cocktail, deep and complex, is basically an Old Fashioned made with tequila instead of bourbon. It's perfect for after dinner — like dessert in a glass, thanks to the addition of the chocolate bitters.

Yield: 1 drink


  • 2 1/2 ounces añejo tequila
  • 1/2 ounce agave syrup
  • 3 to 4 dashes Fee Brothers Aztec chocolate bitters
  • 1 orange peel



Combine ingredients in mixing glass. Add ice, then stir. Strain over fresh ice. Express orange peel over drink and around rim.

Tiny Bubbles

Who knew tequila and prosecco, champagne or cava would work so well together? Balanced, light and perfect for brunch, this cocktail shows that the spirit isn't all muscle and fire.

Yield: 1 drink


  • 1 ounce blanco tequila
  • 1/2 ounce grapefruit-infused St. Germain
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice
  • 1 lemon peel
  • 4 to 5 seedless red grapes
  • Sparkling wine



Combine ingredients (except for sparkling wine) in mixing glass; muddle. Add ice, then shake. Double strain over fresh ice, then top with sparkling wine. Garnish with a lemon peel and grapes.

Mixing cocktails and conversation

Jews and Muslims in Los Angeles don’t often get together for drinks. After all, religious Muslims don’t drink, and the two groups have had their differences. 

But a new project aims to get individuals from both backgrounds talking to each other, while crafting simple yet delicious non-alcoholic beverages, or “mocktails.”

On a recent Monday evening, about a dozen people gathered around a table at the Silverlake Independent JCC as Howard Seth Cohen demonstrated how to make a drink called a mule — featuring ginger beer, blackberries and more, but no liquor.

“What we’re doing is getting all the juice from the berries out, and we’re expressing out the oils from the mint,” Cohen, an actor, told the group, as he slapped a handful of mint leaves together.

Cohen squeezed lemons and limes using a heavy-duty stainless steel bar press, poured the juice through a strainer into a mixing glass, placed that glass into a tin cup filled with ice, and shook vigorously. He then strained that liquid into another ice-filled glass, poured in ginger beer and added a bit of grapefruit peel, twisted into a garnish. He finished it off with an edible orchid flower on top.

The workshop participants scribbled away in notebooks, but they were clearly eager to get started on their own drinks. They paired up and started mixing fruit and liquids, tasting the results, and adding sweet or sour elements to get the taste just right.

This workshop comes with a somewhat inflammatory name: “72 Virgins.” It’s Cohen’s playful take on the idea — based on a mistranslation of a quote by the prophet Muhammad — that every Muslim martyr will be rewarded in heaven with 72 beautiful and pure sex slaves.

“I thought it was absolutely kind of hilarious in my head, like, what if a martyr finds themselves in heaven and are presented with 72 virgin cocktails?” Cohen said.

The name also confronts the negative stereotypes that people have of Muslims.

“As a Muslim, and as a woman and a feminist, it was always something that annoyed me and frustrated me because it was people taking the language away from what it actually meant,” said Saba Mirza, who organized the workshop with Cohen. 

When Cohen first made Mirza a non-alcoholic cocktail — a tamarind sour — she said it was a revelation.

“It looked like the sunset and sunrise all at once, and it tasted like the best tamarind candy that you’d want to sip on and then chug down at the same time, but then you wouldn’t because you want to sip it,” Mirza said. “It was lovely.”

Cohen and Mirza created the “72 Virgins” workshop with a micro-grant from the nonprofit NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change.

“My husband and I were traveling to the Middle East, maybe five years ago, and we had all these fancy amazing drinks at one of the coffee shops. And we were like, this doesn’t exist in the U.S., it just doesn’t,” said Aziza Hasan, NewGround’s executive director. “And so that’s also kind of the appeal tonight, is to be able to experience really great drinks that have nothing to do with alcohol.”

At the recent workshop, Paula Dromi, who is Jewish and lives in Koreatown, paired up with Maryam Saleemi, who lives downtown. They made an orange-ginger mule with egg foam.

“I’m Muslim, so I don’t drink alcohol,” Saleemi said. “So I love this, because whenever I go to the bar with my friends, I’m like, ‘I don’t really want another Coke. Is there something else?’ And there usually isn’t. So I love this.” 

Before long, the participants relaxed and started sharing recommendations for their favorite qawwali singers (a type of Sufi devotional music), how to make the best hummus and, of course, the best cocktails. 

Dromi and Saleemi asked Cohen if they could start drinking their concoctions.

“You should be drinking the whole time! What fun is the class if you can’t enjoy yourself, right?” Cohen said. “So you should be drinking, you should be sharing, getting other people’s opinions of the drink, think, ‘How can I make this drink even a little bit better?’ ”

Danielle West, who came with her friend and co-worker Annie Cavanaugh, muddled cucumber, mint and ginger in a glass, but couldn’t taste the ginger. She kept adding more ginger, but it didn’t help. So, with Cohen’s advice, she added ginger shrub (made of ginger, sugar and apple cider vinegar), agave and lime juice.

“Now it’s lovely. … It’s spicy and it’s sweet and it tastes like cucumber and ginger,” West said. 

“I actually don’t drink alcohol at all. I’m a Mormon and we choose not to drink alcohol, and so when [West] found this, I got so excited, because I love fancy glassware, I love fancy drinks but without the alcohol, and so this was everything I love,” Cavanaugh said.

Heavy topics such as politics and religion didn’t come up the entire evening. The group was more focused on making delicious drinks. 

“I happen to love to cook, so this is just fun,” Dromi said.

“But I’ve never cooked with someone I don’t know, and I like this,” Saleemi told Dromi, laughing. “I feel like I know you more already!”

At the end of the workshop, everyone sat in a circle and described the last drink they’d made: ginger beer with hibiscus juice, a ginger cucumber mint soda, and sparkling tangerine juice with egg foam and an orange twist on top. 

Cohen said his next project will be to get Muslims and Jews to square dance together. And, he said, you can bet there’ll be nonalcoholic cocktails there as well.

Say L’Chayim to 5768!

The smells and tastes of Rosh Hashanah are like no other. The sweet honey, crisp apples and refreshing pomegranate make for quite a feast for the senses. While tradition dictates that we enjoy sliced apples and honey and have a new fruit on our table — most families use pomegranate, with its 613 seeds (mitzvot) — there’s nothing that says we can’t drink them.

The recipes below, which can be made with and without alcohol, are just some of the hundreds of drink creations that use apples (tapuach), honey (devash) and/or pomegranate/grenadine (rimon). All make for a delicious, sweet and colorful way to welcome 5768 — after all, it is New Year’s!

613 L’Chayims
2 ounces pomegranate juice
2 ounces vodka
1/4 ounce simple syrup (two parts sugar, one part water; boil, simmered until sugar is dissolved, cool)

Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake with ice, strain and serve. Garnish with a lemon twist.

So, Nu?
Can be made without vodka.
1 quart pomegranate juice
2 quarts of carbonated or sparkling water
1 pint vodka (optional)
Juice of 1 lemon
orange slices for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a punch bowl and stir. Add an ice ring to keep cool, or may be served warm. Garnish with orange rounds.
Makes 20 servings

Rah-Rah Rimon
1 1/2 ounces pomegranate juice
4 ounces lemon-lime soda

Combine all ingredients in a highball glass filled with ice and stir.

Cran Sameach
4 ounces cranberry juice
1/2 ounce orange juice
2 tablespoons grenadine
1 1/2 ounces cola
1 teaspoon honey

Pour over ice and fill with cola. Stir and add honey. Garnish with a slice of lemon.

A Bissel Berry
2/3 cup blueberries
1/3 cup blackberries
1 cup soda water
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Place all ingredients in a blender. Cover and mix on medium speed until well blended.

Liquid Etrog
2 cups carbonated water (or plain water)
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons honey

Place all ingredients in a blender. Cover and mix on medium speed until well blended.

Sweet and Sour 5768
1 shot vodka
1/2 shot lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey

Keep the vodka and juice at room temperature. Mix them in the glass, and then add the honey, which will sink to the bottom. Swirl the drink to vary the amount of honey dissolved.

A Taste of Devash
2 ounces gin
1 cup crushed ice
2 dashes lemon juice
2 teaspoons honey

Add crushed ice first, followed by the honey. Stir the mixture as you pour the gin on top, which should be chilled. Add lemon juice to taste, and place a wedge over the rim.

Shevarim Teruah
12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) apple juice
1 tablespoon honey
3 cups cracked ice

Blend all together in a blender to the consistency of snow. Serve immediately.

L’Shana Tapuach
1 quart (4 cups) apple cider
2 cups cranberry juice cocktail
2 teaspoons lemon juice
4 cups ginger ale
Crushed ice

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Add chilled ginger ale just before serving. Add crushed ice. Serve immediately.
Makes 15 servings.

Sinless Martini
2 ounces sparkling cider
1/2 ounce Granny Smith apple (chopped)
2 ounces lemon-lime soda
2 dashes cinnamon
1/2 cups crushed ice

Put ingredients in blender, add ice and blend. Pour into martini glass. Garnish with an apple wedge and serve.

Sinful Martini
1 part vodka
1 part Sour Apple Pucker
1 part apple juice

Pour all ingredients into a shaker. Shake well and strain into a martini glass.