The Third Rail: Daze of Atonement


Mardi Gras is receding behind us and we’ve now entered forty days of sacrifice. Even if you didn’t spend Ash Wednesday looking as if someone had stubbed out a cigar on your forehead, the urge to abstain may still be lurking in your subconscious. Don’t worry: you don’t have to become a teetotaler. Jesus probably didn’t touch a drop in the desert but he had other things to deal with like, oh, resisting Satan?

So what should you drink to honor the season of Lent?

Unsurprisingly, there aren’t a lot of cocktails that are abstinence-themed. It’s as if bartenders exhausted themselves inventing variations on the Hurricane for Fat Tuesday and then took some time off. Instead, think of Willem Dafoe’s turn as the savior in The Last Temptation of Christ and try a Temptation cocktail: shake and strain 1 ¾ oz rye whiskey, ¼ oz orange curacao, ¼ oz pastis, and ¼ Dubonnet, add an orange twist. Or celebrate the Resurrection early and try one of the many variations on a Corpse-Reviver: stir 1 ½ oz brandy, ¾ oz apple brandy, and ¾ sweet vermouth with ice and strain.

If you prefer to skip meat on Fridays, then match your sushi with the classic Fish House Punch. It’s not disgusting as it sounds at first. Created in 1848 by a gentleman’s society called The Fish House (I’d like to see a fraternity try getting away with that name today) the recipe calls for:

30 limes, cut in half and squeezed, such pulp as gets through is fine 15 lemons, treat as above This constitutes a “part” for measuring the rest of the ingredients: 1 part dark rum 2 parts light rum… Use a reasonable quality, these are friends you will be poisoning so treat them well 1 part brandy 1 part brown sugar 1 part water, in the form of a block of ice

While the Catholics may suffer from a paucity of Lenten mixtures, Jewish tradition has yielded at least one reliable Passover highball: 1 oz vodka, 2 oz Passion Fruit Liqueur and 6 oz of grapefruit juice. It might not pack the wallop of the Fish House punch, but these are the holy days after all.

Of course, if you do decide to get on the wagon until Easter, don’t think that Catholic tradition wouldn’t reward you with at least one break in that dry spell. St. Patrick’s Day – alcohol’s “amateur night” — falls on March 17th.