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The Making of ‘The Chutzpah!’ Cocktail

Naomi and Jon’s mixology laboratory. Photograph by Jon Wunder

Now that I’m writing for the Forward, my boyfriend, Jon, has been peppering me with questions about Judaism and the paper. It’s lovely to have such a supportive boyfriend, but it’s more than a little embarrassing to have to pull out my dog-eared copy of Blair and Engel to get him answers.

Last week I’d written about the duo’s “The Jewish Festival Cookbook,” and the Forward had adapted a holiday recipe from the book, pears poached in concord wine.

“Concord wine?” Jon questioned, looking over my shoulder as I tried surreptitiously to look up the history of Sukkot. “What’s that?”

What to do with that leftover Manischewitz: The Chutzpah! Image by Liza Schoenfein

“You know, it’s Manishewitz,” I replied, from actual personal knowledge.

“Oh it’s that sweet wine?” he asked. He’d never tried it. Why would he? He’s not Jewish. It’s not something we tend to have around — it wasn’t even in my house growing up, just at my bubbe’s. “So people drink it at the high holidays, then what? It just sits there?”

“I guess so,” I said. “It’s an acquired taste.”

Being the thoughtful fellow he always is, Jon suggested that in service of this column and its readers, we attempt to make a concord wine cocktail to help people put their leftover booze to work. And so, after much trial and error, I present to you, The Chutzpah!

Drink and enjoy. L’chaim!

Naomi Major is a writer living in the Inwood neighborhood of Manhattan. You can find more of her writing at

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