Jewish Food

How To Have A Dr. Brown’s Hanukkah Cocktail Party

We take a classic Jewish staple and booze it up just in time for your Hanukkah party. Read More

By / December 22, 2011
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Why is Coca-Cola the default soft drink for cola-based cocktails?  Have you ever heard anybody walk up to a bar and order a Jack & Pepsi?  What about a scotch on the rocks with a splash of RC Cola?  And what about Dr. Brown’s?  This Jewish staple –the drink of choice at Shabbat lunch tables–hasn’t hardly infiltrated vending machines, much less bars.

We’re living in a time when people are doing new and interesting things in the world of mixology, and still, I haven’t seen Dr. Brown’s listed anywhere.  Since the brand holds such a special place in the Jewish culinary world, I decided to ask Brooklyn bartender Sara Harper to create a few drinks using old favorites Black Cherry and Cream Soda, as well Cel-Ray; a celery flavored drink that is possibly the most polarizing soft drink on earth.  Harper created three drinks using one can of soda for each, and we asked two writers to help judge the concoctions, because who knows booze better than writers?  Novelist Jami Attenberg, whose book The Middlesteins comes out on Grand Central in October of 2012, and Rosie Schaap, DRINK columnist for New York Times Magazine, bartender, and author of the forthcoming book Drinking With Men (Riverhead). The four of us spent an evening at the Williasburg bar The Drink, while Attenberg and Schaap discussed the cocktails and Dr. Brown’s memories.  Schaap, a native New Yorker, flexed her knowledge of the soft drink’s history, and she also placed herself squarely on the side of people who adamantly dislike the Cel-Ray flavor by calling it “one of the most appalling and disagreeable substances in the world.”  Having never tried Cel-Ray before, but intrigued by its nickname of “The Jewish Champagne,” Attenberg was still curious, having grown up in the Midwest where the Dr. isn’t as easy to find.

Drink #1: Old Dr. Brown

(This recipe is basically a more festive Old-Fashioned.  You can use any whiskey you have on hand.  Sara also used one lare ice cube that she hand cut with an ice pick.  If you don’t have a large block of ice lying around, that’s okay.)

Serve in a rocks glass

2 dashes of Regan’s Orange Bitters

2 dashes of ango bitters

1 dash of Bittermens spiced cranberry cream citrate.

1 bar spoon of Dr. Brown’s Black Cherry soda reduction.

2 oz. of whiskey (Sara used Old Overholt)

Rosie: “That’s delicious!”

Jason: “I’m a fan of the big ice cube drinks.”

Rosie: “I’m not a big advocate of the big ice cubes.  They look great, but they sometimes make a drink harder to drink.  I’m also a fan of a little bit of dilution.  People say that one of the great virtues of a big ice cube is that they melt at a slower rate.”

She continues: “I really like it.  I like a regular Old Fashioned anyway.  I could definitely taste the Dr. Brown’s.”

Jami: “I don’t drink a lot of hard alcohol, so this is fascinating for me.”

Rosie: “I’ve seen you hit the bourbon…”

Jami: “Yes, occasionally.”

Drink #2: Ray Collins

Serve in a collins glass

1 bar spoon of maraschino

3/4 oz. lime

1 1/2 oz. Plymouth gin

Top with Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray

Sara: “This one is with the Cel-Ray soda.”

Rosie: “Oh, perfect.”

Jami: “It’s really good!  I can drink this by the tennis court, and watch other people play tennis.”

Rosie: “And you have no unpleasant memories of Cel-Ray?”

Jami: “I do not.”

Rosie: “I’m very tentatively approaching the Ray Collins.  Not that I don’t trust you.”

After taking a sip: “Yeah, again, there’s definitely a Cel-Ray thing going on..”

Jami: “It’s like a Fresca.”

Rosie: “Like a Fresca with celery salt thrown in it.”

Jason: “That’s the last thing I ever want to think about.”

Rosie: “Yeah, but some people really dig it.”

Jami: “I love it!”

Rosie: “Check you out, grandma.”

Drink #3: Gray Lady Fizz

Serve in a collins glass

1/2 oz. of fresh lemon

1/2 oz. of fresh grapefruit

1/2 oz. of chicory tea

3/4 oz. heavy cream

2 oz. of Brooklyn gin

1 egg white top with Dr. Brown’s cream soda

Rosie: “Okay, so this is making me kind of excited right now.”

Rosie: “I’m so thrilled about this.”

Everybody discussed their mutual love for the Gray Lady Fizz.