Let’s settle something right off the bat: there is no ancient tradition of eating dairy foods on Shavuot.
In fact, it’s not even ambiguous. The Torah talks all about first fruits and the early summer harvest of wheat, and not at all about dairy. The specious connection between milk products and Shavuot only emerged centuries later, one of those lovely rabbinic inventions based solely on the “land flowing with milk and honey” verse.
So while I apologize to the Shavuot Dairy Industrial Complex, I celebrate the fact that the wheat and early fruit harvest give us, yet again, another excuse to enjoy adult beverages in the name of celebrating Judaism.
“THE” FIRST FRUIT IS…
For an excellent chart of when crops and fruits ripened in ancient Israel, check this out. Given the fact that the first fruit harvest of late spring/early summer was the grape harvest, why not enjoy one of these grape-inspired cocktails tonight to help you survive a late-night Tikun Leil Shavuot?
Absolut Boston Homerun
Perfect for Baystaters and vodka-lovers. Have one tonight and try to figure out how the Red Sox will able to keep Drew, Bogaerts, Holt, Middlebrooks, and Napoli on the roster at the same time.
1 part Absolut Boston Vodka (infused with black tea and elderflower)
2 parts white grape juice
Top off with ginger ale
1 ½ ounces citrus vodka
1 ounce ginger liquor
1 ounce concord grape juice
Crushed and diced rasbperries and blackberries (IMO preferable to blackberry syrup)
WHEAT BEER WAS MADE FOR SUMMER
Perhaps craft brewers are in tune with the Omer and Biblical calendar, given the proliferation of wheat beers in late spring and summer. Or, more likely, the crisper and lighter flavor of wheat beer was made for summer. Which came first, the chicken or the egg, or Shavuot/wheat harvest or summer wheat beer? The argument rages.
Be that as it may, American brewers are thankfully making wheat beers beyond the typical cloudy Belgian-style brews. If you’ve had a Brew Moon or a Cisco Brewers Grey Lady, you know what I’m talking about- the spice overpowers the wheat. So instead of going that route, here are two recommendations for interesting American wheat beers that are probably sitting in your local packie.
Less coriander, and an interesting orange infusion are the hallmarks of this wheat beer from Delaware brewers Dogfish Head. It’s got a much more pleasant aftertaste than the average wheat beer, but you’ll still get that aroma and taste of spicy sweetness from the ingredients. A great beer for the porch, or the beach, or a Solo cup at a youth baseball game under the lights…not that I’ve done that or anything.
But really, folks, this whole exercise is just a contest for the second-best drink for Shavuot, because #1, by a country mile, is my old friend Sumpin’ Sumpin’. Along with Dogfish Head, Lagunitas makes some of the most interesting beers around, and this one is top-of-the-charts good. It’s the beer that when I go to my buddy’s house to hang out, if it’s in the fridge and he offers me one, I just say “Chris, you’re way too good to me.” If you haven’t had it yet, believe me, you’re missing out.
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